Saturday, August 2, 2014

Memoir Revision Update

Those of you who follow this blog religiously may want to know how my memoir project is coming.

Some of you may be saying, "Memoir?  Why are you writing a memoir?  What have you done that warrants a memoir?"

To the answer of why another work on topics that seem overdone, I would say that there are plenty of books and memoirs that study spirituality as a sort of journey, written by women like Kathleen Norris, Nora Gallagher, Lauren F. Winner and Anne Lamott.  But often, those people aren't working  or they're not working in soul-deadening jobs in institutions that have value systems very different from those that spiritual traditions hold dear.  I haven't found many memoirs that speak to me as a woman who is trying to balance all my relationships with my work life with my spiritual yearnings and with my creative projects.

Here's my process:  I'm taking different blog posts that explore the intersections of creativity, spirituality and the secular work that we do to pay the bills, and I'm revising them into a book of essays that follow a calendar year.  My goal is that each essay could stand alone and be enjoyed in a single, short reading period, but that taken together, they will be more than the sum of their  parts.

I started doing this 2 (gulp!) years ago.  I wouldn't have thought it could take so long.  I used to write a 300 page novel in 6 months or less.  Of course, back when I did that, I wasn't also juggling a 40-60 hour a week job that requires my presence in an office.  I wasn't doing other creative projects.  I was younger, in short.

Plus I bought a house, moved, and sold a house.  That process meant at least 6 months of lost writing productivity.  I knew it would which is why I resisted it for so long.  There was a lay off and a job restructuring--it had a happy ending, in that I got the new version of my old job, but that, too, was disruptive.  And my spouse's back injury and surgery--again, a happy ending, but time consuming.

I mention these things because I'm prone to beat myself up for projects that don't get done in what I would consider to be a timely manner.

This morning, I realized that I have lost sight of where I am in the macro sense.  On my writing days, I weave blog posts together and create essays for the memoir.  But I have no sense of how much more is left to do.

So, this morning I scrolled through the chronological part of manuscript.  The first chunk of the manuscript contains all my blog posts--some revised into essays, some not--in chronological order.  The second chunk contains blog posts that tie into the theme but don't have a clear chronological place. 

Here's the interesting news.  I have 311 pages in the chronological chunk.  I am closer to having that part done than I thought.

Here's what I mean by done:  revised into essay form, which can be quite different from blog form, ready to be read as part of the whole.  I imagine when I sit down to read the whole thing, I will find more that needs to be done.

In the coming weeks, I'll keep revising the first chunk, the chronological chunk.  I'll look through the last chunk to see if that material is as useful as I once thought it was and I'll start thinking about where to put it, if it is.

One of my writing friends tells me it's time to start writing to agents.  I've got one picked out.  I'll write the letter by Labor Day.  And hopefully, I'll be big and brave and mail it out!

1 comment:

rbarenblat said...

I look forward to reading it!