Tag Archives: memoir

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.

We Bought the New Domains Last Night

We started, this morning, updating the “main site” which at least in my mind is the “mother ship” of all the others. If you know that site, it was my old bookstore’s name, it’s broken right now!

  • The new sites will host a stream of the PTSD-related threads from here on one site and hopefully, in the future, memoir sales.
  • Links to book & author material, mine and others (one or more sites).
  • Link to a frugality content, some pulled from this blog and other unpublished work.
  • A “newsletter” with scheduling info for my friend authors, artists, etc.

It’s happening!

street signs

 

More

More?

More culling and clearing out. Removed things which haven’t sold from the antique booth. Completely rearranged the booth. Took some of the culled items to two thrift shops as donations. Took others to the 2nd shop to try and sell there. Removed the doll bed from the 2nd shop (it was a display piece for my stuff).

Bought items at thrift shops — mostly china and glass.

More work on the living room. I fixed a few holes in the previously caulked logs and caulked the north wall to the baseboard. Also started caulking over the street-side window. Assuming that the window area is done today, that pretty much, except for touch up, should finish the caulking.

More work on the memoir. Just before I went to bed last night, I typed two more pages. Not a huge amount, but progress on the day.

So, I can say I made definite progress on all fronts yesterday!

I acquired, or was given: a retail basket display and a rug frame.

Hiring a Writer and What I Learned

I hired someone I did not know. It had to be someone I did not know because I felt like all the people I did know were being “easy” on me. I needed a pro. I needed someone who wasn’t going to shred my emotions although shredding the writing, if that was required was okay, and I needed someone who absolutely got the book connection and understood the kind of writing I’d intended to do.

I was extremely lucky. I found someone. This person, like me, has been a technical writer. They’ve also edited anthologies. They’re also a science fiction person. I’ve never met them, didn’t know them and didn’t know they existed. The recent insanity about the Hugo awards (don’t get me started on it, please!) caused me to read a lot of people in the science fiction field and a lot of people out of it. Somehow, some way, through a link from a link from a post, I wound up at this person’s blog.

Educated, thoughtful, and the opinions were superbly expressed. I was *impressed*. Long ago and far away, I had an ambition as a technical writer. It was to make my writing so clear, so consistent that the reader forgot they were reading. I did that with this blog. Intrigued, I read more. I researched them on facebook and elsewhere. We have a few mutual friends, including some people who suffer no fools and have high standards. Huh. I’d never heard of or met this person. I haven’t met a lot of people. I haven’t heard of a lot of people, but this person and I share a chunk of FB friends where I would expect to have met or have heard about them, several times — and I hadn’t.

More research indicated they freelanced.  I’ve found an editor who will help me finish the memoir, the way I want it to be. I am both amazed and grateful!

I just realized that I promised something in the title and didn’t deliver it. What did I learn? I learned a few things. One, every now and then the universe is really, really good to you. Two, that I’d been beating myself up because I don’t write in a literary style. Years ago and miles away, that choice was deliberate. I’d forgotten that, and I’d just been at an academic conference. I’m not an academic, in fact I’m not highly educated — by choice. Writing doesn’t have to be literary/academic to be exceedingly good — go read some Mark Twain. And highly educated writing doesn’t have to be literary in style to be good either — go read a speech or two of Churchill’s! (My two writing gods.)

I’d forgotten that I love Twain and Churchill’s writing because although both men were superb writers, they didn’t need multisyllabic words, complex constructions, and obscure references to grab your heart out of your chest with their words. They did it with simple language, superb mastery and with an uncanny knowledge of human beings.

After that workshop and seeing my academic relative 3 times in the same two weeks, I got caught up, again, in the idea that I had to be “educated” and write “literarily.” I can’t. I hate that kind of writing, it is like pulling my teeth out through the back of my skull when I try.

So, I learned two things: 1) I really should avoid my family at almost all costs, although I won’t. and 2)A good editor is worth their weight in gold if you’re a writer. All writers need to be reminded of what they do well and what needs work. And a good editor can make that happen.

I May Have to Hire a Writer!

Which I find  odd, since, well you know?  I am a writer/editor.

But the backstory stuff, the part of the memoir that’s the lead-up to where it starts, all the junk: neglect, abuse, hormone insanity as a teenager, yada yada I have struggled with for a decade trying to write for someone who doesn’t know me.

It’s better, but it’s still bad.

I know this. Maybe my particular ring of hell (or that for writers?) is being the only person who can tell a story and knowing that you can’t tell it well enough.

I had a friend suggest putting it in 3rd person. Well, actually that solved a problem or two with the first chunk. But overall?  It made it worse. When I switched it back to first person, it is better. But I can’t keep writing and rewriting the same chapters from 3rd to 1st person, and who knows if doing that again would be helpful?

This is the stuff I’d struggle to write and quit when the tears wouldn’t stop. It’s inconvenient to say the least that the thing that traumatized me started so young. It makes telling my story really hard without explaining it, because the memoir is about dealing with it as an adult.  I was 19 where I start the piece. I sure am not Mozart or Beethoven to have accomplished lots of things by that age. What I had done was try to cope with chronic pain, and badly, so that I’d tried to commit suicide twice before I was 20.

Then I turned my life around, and that’s the story.

Maybe I should just rip the thing in 1/2. Instead of telling 40 years , with some (hopefully) funny stories between in 60 pages, I should just do the whole thing in bullet points. I could probably fit 40 years (without the funny stories) in about 2 pages, oh let’s be generous — 4.

I’d give up, but.

But? Two or three things. I don’t give up easily. I’ve got 10 years into this I started writing it in posts. We’ve invested in getting it edited (helpful and not) and 3 sessions at the writing workshop.

I love the new structure, my age at the time being talked about is in parenthesis.

(19) (backstory 1)

(19-20) (backstory 2)

(20+) (backstory 3)

(23+) Twenty three is when the whole thing shifts, again. I met the fellow I’m married to.

I had a huge problem with what to do after 25,when we got married. I’m in the same relationship. We’ve lived in the same place for some time. I had the same business for 10+ years, etc. Things got STABLE, mostly.

Stable is also boring btw? Nobody wants to read the story of what you had for breakfast, unless you’re important somehow. I’m not.

I had someone say they thought they knew what I wanted in my class. I expected this would be WAY off. But it wasn’t. What they said was, “You want vindication.” It was very unsettling to have someone I’d basically just met nail me so well, but they’re right.

I want people to see/understand how HARD it was to beat PTSD as much as I have, without consistent support from family, community, drugs, religion or the mental health field.

I want the people who really have PTSD  to know that someone else understands how hard it is and maybe with the drugs and help and understanding now, their journey doesn’t need to be as hard as mine was.

I want the people who get in a fender bender and say, “I had PTSD for 3 days!” to understand that they probably never had it at all, and be glad!

I want the people who told me I was crazy or who backed away from me or who dismissed what I was going through to understand a little.

I want the people who think I’m unstable because I talk about this stuff to understand why I think, no I know, I’m more stable than they are!

And yes, I’d like all those folks who over the years have told me to “Give it to God,” or “Grow up!” or “Just get over it,” to understand that when you have PTSD it isn’t a choice.

Directions

What I need is a new focus or two. One, I think needs to be the finishing up the book projects and others which are midproduction. This includes the memoir, the kitchen book, the current anthology, and websites. The websites need to be purchased, so I suppose that’s the next step.

When I have something to sell, or a link to a website, I’ll post it here.

Otherwise, I’m seriously considering what to do when the memoir comes out. “Taking my emotional clothes off in public” is how I refer to the piece. There are two or three things which have to happen because of this: I need to do a reveal, those of you who know me in person “get” this, but I also need to protect me and mine from trolls and others both on the net and otherwise. Giving people a roadmap into the most tender part of yourself isn’t a recipe for people necessarily treating you well.

So, if you actually know me, in person, and are a friend rather than a professional contact or are both, you may get mail from the fictionalized me in the near future. I can’t contemplate having the memoir out or other projects with it, which may or may not happen, otherwise.

A new or different second focus needs to be home/hearth/health. Because of the abuse I endured, because of its ramifications on me as an adult, I’ve never really let myself focus on my home/hearth. Because of the “I don’t matter” attitude which is under much of everything, even still — I was brainwashed — taking care of myself physically is almost as much of a challenge as taking care of my hearth/home.

A third project is that I need something to DO, something to focus on outside of ME-ME-ME which was necessary for the past several years to deal with the PTSD. Okay, that’s mostly done. Now what?

I have no answers for all of this, just feel like they are directions I need to go. More exercise, working on the kitchen notebook will work on the house food/nurturing, the house clean-up is of course the hardest piece.

Does it sound like I’m REALLY sick of my stupid wounded childhood and how it affects the adult me? If not, I’m a much worse writer than I thought!

J

Memoir & Other Projects: Update

For those of you who know, the memoir has been “finished” for some time. I had a job that I concentrated on, it was part time going to be full time, I thought, but  it didn’t work out.

Anyway, I’m not doing that job now. So, I have the time to work on the other projects: the house, the memoir, the kitchen book, the cleaning plan, the vegetable garden — all of those have had a chunk of my time in the past few weeks. Along that line, I also have some website ideas which are in process too.

None of this is really brand new, it’s just been on hold for a while.

Here’s a rundown.

Memoir: needs the 2nd half rewritten. To that end I’m scheduled to go to a writing workshop in June.

House: the living room redesign, cull & clean continues. It’s getting there! The latest new piece is going to involve a major cull/clean in the bedroom too. That’s upcoming, probably this week.

Kitchen Book: I have ideas about publishing this, or part of it on my own. If I do that, I’ll provide a link here either to my shopping cheat sheets, or a write up or a link to a website, or ? The data is done. I need to hire some very talented ladies I know to do the graphics associated with it and possibly website design. It depends.

Cleaning Plan: Right now the plan is to write up an article or two, first. Then publish the plan itself. This is waiting on the house getting finished. Until it gets finished, I have a bunch of ideas that haven’t worked to talk about. I need a successful completion before I’ve got something salable!

Other Website Ideas: I’ve had 2 or 3 of these for some time. I need to buy the domains, and get the HTML done on them. I may get someone else to do them, DH may do them, or who knows?

Vegetable Garden: Some of this is related to the shopping cheat sheets. I realized I’ve got all this data, formatted, and why aren’t I using it myself? Growing food is part of this, only a small part, but it IS part of it!