Photo by Alvin Langdon Coburn, Broadway at Night, ca. 1910
Sorry in advance for the play-by-play. I know very few writers who do this (blog, or even Facebook their life story), but good lord, I can’t keep anything to myself and I’m so nervous and uncertain. Of course, maybe the honesty will lend well to my writing a memoir. I’ve been sending query letters and book proposals to literary agents, so I’m nervous. Three years of work is about to be judged by the people whose opinion truly matters. What if they say yes? Then what? I have no idea what happens after this because no one really talks about it. So, I’m talking about it as it happens because YOU certainly want to know. I did. And so many of my readers are writers, aspiring and otherwise.
There have always been too many options for this book and that’s been my biggest struggle. How do I mix narrative with true-life events? As a writer trained in fiction, I understand how important form is and how a writer can make something plain or disturbing into something beautiful or poignant or frightening with her words. Even still, other questions emerged: how do I tell the story as it happened and not feel like I’m writing a crappy Lifetime movie? Or offend a Christian nation? Or can I stay true to real life and go as deep as I would like to go into art and experimentation? What makes my voice distinct? Am I even to the point where I have a distinct voice? Then there were the months I spent figuring out just what made a good memoir. I have only an elementary understanding of the form, but I’m getting there. (To answer your question, yes, I’m a bit neurotic.)
And then the largest one of all: have I forgiven and is forgiveness necessary? I’ve begun to answer that question and I hope I articulate it well.
Some of these questions have been answered, some haven’t. I’ve learned that the only way to answer these questions is to write your way around them, and through them, and under them, and see where you land. When writers say “read and write” and that is all, it really is. Of course they leave out the millions of little details in between because in many cases it takes decades of reading and writing to master it.
How did I know it was time to send my proposal off? I feel like I’ve found myself and my voice and for the first time, my writing for this book isn’t reeking with a “confessional” tone. And then of course there was the excited feeling, the feeling of actually having FUN with a story.
So, cross your fingers for me as we wait. And wait. And wait. 4-6 weeks. Or longer.
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