Category Archives: writing problems

What’s NOT in the memoir

I left a lot of things out of the memoir; it’s only 26,000 words, short.

I left out (deliberately) sex, drugs, money, power, and many traumas. I left out various of my favorite stories. I retitled it.

I left out my parents’ names, the name of my home town, most of the schools I went to.

I left out the anger rage, the feelings of victimization, almost any of the feelings except as trying to explain, in first person, in an semi-analytical voice, what happened to me.

I left out the more elaborate design, including footnotes in the first 2 major pieces and end notes in the last. (Changed it to footnotes throughout.) Part of the reason was that I was told early on that memoirs don’t have footnotes. Most may not; mine does.

I left out much of the trauma work detail. There’s a line “this sounds fast and easy. It wasn’t, it took me 10 years.” or something very close to that.

I left out long sentences.

I left out the years of failed relationships,  with friends and lovers in any detail because the way I learned how to have successful relationships were the massive blunders I made, the failures I had, and the places I hugely f’d up.

I left out any literary or academic pretensions, I hope. The language thing is important to me.

Years ago,when I started Tech. Writing, I decided I wanted to write instructions to the standard of what I considered outstanding fiction writing. To me, a piece is wonderfully written when the words on paper disappear because I’m so caught up in what they communicate.

It isn’t that I can’t write with more complexity.


I could say:

This has continually gotten me in trouble with people who equate multi-syllabic words, many independent clauses with conjunctive adverbial clauses, and jargon as educated.

I don’t understand why it is MORE acceptable than:

This has gotten me in trouble with people who see elaborate sentences, structure, and lingo as educated.


What I wanted to do with the memoir was to create something easy to read so that people would focus on what I’m saying, rather than how I’m saying it.

If I did it well, the simple language will be MORE effective. Two people have said it works, one said I wrote a book for youngsters, so it obviously didn’t.

My planned audience is high school senior/college freshman.

We’ll see what the publisher says. Hopefully, he won’t want it rewritten.

Advertisements

Status

The work piece got done. I have more, there’s a glitch and it’s being fixed (above my paygrade).

The kitchen has a temporary counter, a piece of plywood, covering the dishwasher and a drawer unit while DH figures out the necessary changes. The new dishwasher wouldn’t go in the space where the dish drawer had been: it’s too high and wide. So… the nuking began.

The writing piece has been completely reviewed by my co-editor: comments made and corrections applied. After > 10 years working on the piece, I am both relieved to have it done and terrified because it’s done.

Other things pending: waiting for the reviewer at a site to tell us who he wants the book file to go for the last book to get it reviewed.

I made some $ from the new online job. Hurrah!

Life is in flux, and stressy accordingly: new online job changes, writing project changes, and kitchen demolition.

My plan is that after the book project goes to the publisher mid-month, I will seriously start working on the cleaning plan and the house. I will have the other, biggest, long-term project complete, so it’s about time, right?

(Excuse me while I freak out!)

For a long time I didn’t understand why I was so afraid of finishing things? I talked to my therapist about it. She said, “If you finished something, it was subject to attack by the Abuser, right? It was much safer for you to not finish things, then she’d attack you for being lazy and/or not finishing things, but you controlled that and it wasn’t a surprise.”

Which made total sense.

The panic/terror of finishing things applies to the house cleaning. Also it’s part of the PTSD, not wanting to be too visible, because you see yourself as a target.

If I think about what I’m doing, really think about it, I will totally panic. I’m not letting myself think about the big picture, just the little one. Just getting the next step done; that’s all.

But I’m running out of road.

end of road

(Image from JimmyBuiPhotography.com, via images.google.com)

A Tech Problem.

I’m writing a novella, a novel, or just a really big piece. I remembered a recommendation from a pro (I know a lot of them.) to use some software or the other, originally made for academic writing, but that it was helpful to not change character names in the middles of the work, etc.

I’d forgotten the name of the app, so went looking.

I found a review of several, including prowritingaid.com which looked like the best bet. Anyway I wanted to try it. Except I can’t. The only way I can “try” it is to sign up for the premium version because of the computer/OS I’m using. You know? I’d really like to try it at least once to see if it’s worth the $ first.

The software I’d gotten the recommendation for is scrivener. I haven’t looked their free trial yet. If I can try it? Well, here’s a surprise — which one do you think I’ll buy?

 

Blame it on Hugh Jackman

Might as well, right?

I am anxious to see The Greatest Showman, I have it on preorder at itunes as I missed it hereabouts. This means that once or twice a week I go to youtube and look to see if there’s anything new there about the movie. I think I’ve watched every Greatest Showman related piece and read about the ticket numbers, etc. at least twice.

Okay. I’m a fan. Not necessary of movies or Hugh Jackman, but I’m that type of person. I was a sf book dealer for 20 years, right? And looking for something new while you wait for a movie to show up isn’t being obnoxious? I haven’t written 1,000 emails or tried to get all my friends to see the movie or, or, or… believe me, after 20 years of being an sf book dealer, I saw fandom at its best — and worst.

So, what am I blaming the talented Mr. Jackman for? Those songs. He didn’t write them. I know. It isn’t that. It’s what those songs have done.

I’d decided to kill the memoir, remember? After 10+ years of working on the thing, picking my wounds open again and again – to try and make it both true to my story AND entertaining without turning it into a novel was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it. I’d work on the memoir until I’d start to cry and couldn’t stop. Or, another way: it’s the roadmap to my personal hell. Whether the writing is any good. Even if the story, as such, falls apart and it’s a dead bore. It is STILL, for me, the map to and through my particular hell.

I was going to let it die. I’m over 60. I fought that battle for 50+ years, so why do I need to bleed in public? I don’t.

Except those stupid songs won’t get out of my head. And they’ve got me believing, again, that maybe I can actually do the job: tell the story and make it entertaining, or at least not a dead bore. Maybe. Or, that someone might actually be interested. Maybe.

And so, today, and other days, I’ve been going down that particular path to hell. Again.

And THAT I blame Mr. Jackman for. It may not be a bad thing, but it sure isn’t easy. I keep hoping the movie will show up on itunes so I can just WATCH the silly thing and maybe, just maybe, I can dig up the grave and bury the memoir, for good this time.

Or, I suppose the movie could just make this much worse and I’ll have to actually FINISH the stupid thing and let it go into the world.

I’ll get flamed, I know. I’ll get (again) told I’m a wimp. (I know.) I’ll get told, one more time — or several — that I should just GET OVER IT or GIVE IT TO GOD!

Yes, I know.

 

Unexpected

I have Desha Peacock’s decorating book. I just missed seeing her at a bookstore event. Found out about it the week following. Anyway, I was intrigued and I bought the book: Create the Style You Crave on a Budget You Can Afford.

Off and on I’ve dipped into it. Most of it seems to be articles about hip bloggers, which doesn’t interest me much. I don’t care about their blogs, their lives or how popular they are. Many of them, because they are on average 20-30 years younger than I am, are talking about things I already know to save money: the dump’s swap shop, upcycle, antique stores, flea markets, swap, etc. I do all that and have. So, a half a dozen times I’ve resolved to get rid of the book, donate or sell it.

I’d gotten there this morning, again, and found one of her “quizzes” which are supposed to help you figure out your “sweet spot.” I write in books I buy for information, and had various notes in this one about colors, but nothing else. But today? Today I wrote this about a “mood board” (I’ve never managed to make a mood board, or creative board, or whatever work. I’ve tried!)

“Seriously? Decide to feel a certain way and you make that in a room?

HAH!

Fat chance!!!

Part of this was “Ask yourself these questions:. . . (My pencilled notes are in boldface.)

How do I want to feel in this room? How do I want my family to feel and others who visit?” My comment here was: How the F do I know? Never thought I could control how I feel in a room. Rooms victimize you.

“What colors would I like to see in this room? How much of this color or colors can I envisage?” No envisaging. NO visualization. None. Forget it!

I feel a little like I did when I discovered I’d been traumatized by knitting. My lack of visualization was deliberate, once. I decided I had to do that because thinking in pictures yanked me around emotionally, and my emotions made me crazy.

Of course, that was almost 40 years ago, but I’ve discovered that flipping the switch I did, from thinking in pictures to thinking in words isn’t easy to do, or to undo.

 

desha peacock book

I’m not sure how to fix this. I like our new living room, mostly. I learned a lot doing it. But other than having an idea about how I want to combine colors in the house, spending as little as possible, and getting DH’s overall approval, I have no idea about what to do or how. I only know the next piece usually, if that.

The living room’s paint needs touch up and to be cleaned up in some areas. I want to take a strip out of one room to make a hallway, so I have a wall with a large bookcase. Aside from that? I have no next steps.

The back roof has to happen this year no matter what, and much of the available money will go to that. After that? I have no idea.

It annoys me that this is seemingly so simple for some people and so difficult for me. I know why I did what I did. It was necessary, when I was 20, but it isn’t necessary now and it makes my life difficult in all sorts of ways.

I can’t write fiction. I can’t plan craft projects without doing a “sketch” because when I imagine a finished project, it never turns out that way, etc. Not being able to imagine what something might look like is a total PITA!

I Wish…

  • I had heart-warming stories to tell about my family, or
  • Warm, funny, ironic stories about the holidays, or
  • Charming things I’d made, for sale, or just owned.

I don’t have any of that, well maybe the last one. I have some wonderful things I’ve bought.

I don’t know how to do emotions in words. It has just occurred to me that the reason I’m afraid, yes afraid, of writing the middle of any story now is the “rising action,” that is, the emotional start of the tension that makes the plot and thereby a story.

I know all too well how to express my own, but my life has also taught me that I don’t do emotion from the same perspective others do. I read Nora Roberts or other romance authors and frequently my reaction to the complications which heap upon the hero is to think  –“Run!” And, of course the characters don’t. Partly because if they do, there will be no story. But partly because that isn’t really an option people, most people, entertain and also partly because “regular” people just don’t get overwhelmed as quickly as I do.

More, also, there’s the thing about if I put *my* emotions in it? My default/brainwashed brain says: “No one will read it!”

Goodie. Another wall to break down — just what I wanted!

😛

 

 

Memoir Work

One sensible suggestion made by an editor friend was that I may have to simply retype the memoir to get a clean, uncorrupted file.

With that in mind, I retyped the front matter and chapter 1 this week, 10 pages total. It took me about 2 hours. The entire thing is about 90 pages total, which means, assuming that I type at approx. the same rate,  it will take me about 18 hours to retype the entire thing, or 16 more hours to finish it.

I expect the remainder will be faster than the first 10 pages because there are no title or half title pages, no dedication, no author’s word, just text and some illustrations. Call it 100 pages by the time I add a back cover and the illustrations inside. That’s still only 18 more hours, and it could save me an incredible amount of fighting with the vestiges of multiple edits, multiple sources, multiple computers and software.

Makes sense.

I was afraid that I would go through an emotional rollercoaster retyping the first chapter. But I will say that it’s an indication of how much I’ve healed  — that didn’t happen.

What pushed on me was the ever-growing  “in memoriam” list in the dedication. I’ve added two people in just the last six months. Mind, there is only one person in the dedication I don’t actually know, Paul McCartney.  He’s there for “Hey Jude,” as I couldn’t have written the thing if I’d jumped off that cliff long ago. I didn’t because of “Hey Jude,” so I think he belongs in the dedication. But, as I said, he’s the only person named there I haven’t met.

Hey, guess what world?

I can actually grow up at some point!

Having a career/life which isn’t based on being a wounded child is a new outlook for me. I’m a bit apprehensive and jazzed, as I think I should be.

Onward!