This evening I’m facing difficult cuts in the draft of my memoir. The document hasn’t been opened since April 28, which is a little while to cool off if one is planning to make a nice, objective proofread. Yes: defining parameters and moving away from the full length autobiography. After a lot of studying on memoirs I’m ready to slash by %65. A good story is what I want. Not looking for self help on hope, lessons from marriage, first hand experience with global financial crisis, stories behind the music, or even what the Boy Scouts taught me when I was 15. It just wouldn’t be a good book.
I’m ready to tie down the framework, punch in a deadline, and knock out a draft. The book has to make more sense than the wandering course of the real me. Of course the book is about the wandering, and believe me, it wanders. Spontaneity is the basis of the story, but that doesn’t mean I should open a 65,000 word document and scroll around until I feel like writing somewhere with a fresh voice and no memory of what has just been said. That’s what the blog is for, right?
I hesitate to write a collection of stories. Or give some life examples grouped together that make sense in a bundle. I want this to be a stand alone story, cover to cover. My favorites: The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I was glued to Eat Pray Love, too, Elizabeth Gilbert. Glued, I said, but not taken with it. These are all stories. True ones. I liked A Million Little Pieces, too, James Frey. So sad about that (wasn’t true).
I battle insecurities when I sit to write. It’s impossible not to feel (while rambling about a ramble) that it isn’t going anywhere (which follows that neither am I). It can get to be a big, self beat-up session at the end of a long day. I’ve got some pretty big knifes in the bag, like “So you think if you’re unsuccessful at something long enough (songwriting) then you should swing at it with more time writing about yourself?” Ouch. Or the obvious one, “Who are you to write a memoir?”
I’ve got an answer to that one. Good memoirs stand more on the strength of the memoir and not the esteem of the person. The President always writes a memoir. But the memoirist maybe did a book tour and then went back to being introverted. Nobodies can be memoirists just fine.