Thursday, June 14, 2007

Options!

Since I returned from my writer’s conference I’ve posted some material from my manuscript on this blog. There’s a purpose to this. I know my manuscript is not publishable in its present form. It will never be publishable as a memoir. You’ll just have to trust me on this point. However, parts of it may be salvageable and I’m testing to see what kind of reactions I get.

I’m in my 50’s and made some pretty stupid choices and dumb mistakes in my life. Still, I’m quite successful and have emerged as a happy, irreverent, kind and loving person with many great friends.

The manuscript was sort of divided into 2 parts. The first part tells the story of my life and the second part tells all the lessons I learned and how I applied them. Several friends and acquaintances read it and they all had similar reactions. They all relate to some parts of my life, but the bulk of their interest is in the lessons and their applications.

So, I see 2 options for what I’ve written. First, I could turn it into a self-help type of book full of advice, wit and wisdom – all of which I’m chock-full of. Yes, I’m that person everyone goes to when they have a problem. I’m known for my ability to cut through the clutter and get things done or find options for other people. This is a blessing and a curse and I’ll tell you why some other time. Anyway, I’m thinking about a title like, “The Anti-Wife Tackles Life.” That’s option one.

The second option is to take some of the juiciest and most painful parts or my real life and turn it into a novel. I already have a beginning and an end in mind and some major turning points. I just have to come up with another 80-90,000 more words to go with them. Ordinarily I’d be afraid to write a novel, but in reading Holly Kennedy’s blog I discovered that you don’t have to write linearly – just cohesively. Her system might just work with my personality.

In the meantime I’ll blog. I find that I’m enjoying it far more than I thought I would and I’ve met some really interesting people. I like reading other writer’s blogs because they’re interesting and often literate and thought provoking. They challenge me to try and do better.

Anyway, those are my current options. I’ll keep posting parts of my manuscript occasionally and new material as it develops.

All thoughts are welcome.

6 comments:

Carolyn Burns Bass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolyn Burns Bass said...

Carolyn Burns Bass said...
I hopped over here from Kristin's blog. I was there with you at the Backspace conference. Wonder if we met? I think we would have had a great chat.

A term I've been reading lately is "thinly veiled autobiography written as fiction." Perhaps this is what you might consider with your story. I've done something similar with my WIP, a novel called THE SWORD SWALLOWER'S DAUGHTER. I've taken the sensational and emotional issues from my childhood and written them into a new character, whose life resembles mine, but isn't me.

If you're on the Backspace forums, look me up. I'm simply Carolyn there.

jjdebenedictis said...

You might want to study the Ask the Slayer blog.

Claud has a similar story, in that her life has contained quite a bit of craziness but she got through it.

In reading through her personal website and the more light-hearted "Ask the Slayer" site, I noticed the same effect you mention - I was more interested in her advice than in the details of her life.

No matter what you write, you have to hook the reader's attention. I think this is easier when you're handing out advice than when you're describing the reasons why you're qualified to give advice.

Advice can be applied to the reader's life, so the reader has an incentive to keep reading. Describing your own life has to be done in such a way as to convince the reader to care about you - and that's much harder to pull off.

Jerry Waxler said...

You've asked a great question, and I have all sorts of answers bubbling around in my brain. I even started my writing session this morning thinking about how to sort through these huge options, each one of which could take a year or more and affect your journey. Not too long ago I spent a year and a half working on a book based on the idea of "how can I use my experience to make more sense of life." I wrote a couple of hundred pages, in which I had a conversation with my brother in heaven (he died of cancer when he was 37) and then I quietly walked away from it, realizing it wasn't taking shape. And yet, I wouldn't trade that experience. It opened my eyes to a lot of interesting things about memoir and meaning, and about what I would say to my brother when I see him again. But I don't know exactly what you should do, so I went back to polishing my latest blog entry and realized that it was actually a pretty interesting answer to the question about how to make best use of your writing time. Here's the permalink -- http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/boomer-memoir-is-a-step-towards-social-activism/

Jerry Waxler said...

It looks like my link was cut off from the previous comment: Here's the permalink -- http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/boomer-memoir-is-a-step-towards-social-activism/

Best wishes,
Jerry

Jerry Waxler said...

You've asked a great question, and I started my writing session this morning thinking about how to sort through these options, each one of which could take a year or more and affect your journey. Not long ago I spent a year and a half writing a self-help book based on the idea of "how can I use my experience to make more sense of life." I wrote a couple of hundred pages, in which I had a conversation with my brother in heaven (he died of cancer when he was 37) and then I quietly walked away from it, realizing it wasn't taking shape. And yet, I wouldn't take back that experience. It opened my eyes to a lot of interesting things about memoir and meaning, and about what I would say to my brother when I see him again. Then, I went back to polishing my latest blog entry and realized that it was actually a pretty interesting answer to your question about how to make best use of your writing time. Here's the permalink if you want to take a look: http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/boomer-memoir-is-a-step-towards-social-activism/