I’ve been working on my memoir for 10 years. As you learn just how long it has taken me to write it, I can feel your breathy sigh and see your inquisitive brow asking, “So what’s taking you so long?”
I read my first draft once and then I thought of my current draft and the two are not the same – neither in content, structure nor theme or story. My first draft was nothing but pure exercise in writing and just getting it down on paper as I have been out of practice of the art for many years while being an ad agency account manager wanna-be and a banker, well, rather someone who worked for a major bank in wholesale commercial cash management. But my roots were always planted in journalism, reading and writing and then writing more. I feel my own sigh and answer my own question when I ask, “So what took me so long?”
Writing this book took me a while because I knew I needed to write a series of many drafts to sift out the essence of what my story really was and to tell it in a universal way where readers could identify with it. It has become almost like working a piece of pottery on a wheel. I slapped the blob of clay on the wheel (1st draft) and cupped my hands around it, working the chunk with fingertips and palms to coax a blossom of what I envision it to be. But I hit “the wall.” I told myself that the manuscript wasn’t anything special or unique or worth reading. It was (sigh) ho-hum. I didn’t write of alcoholic parents, or drug addiction, or being stricken with a disease and how I overcame these obstacles. I certainly don’t shun memoirs of these themes because I believe their authors write about as honest, authentic and true as one could get. Their voice is propelled to a resounding clarity. But how about a book written by someone, a regular someone, who has much to say about life? Could the book overcome the “so what” factor?
It all started Under the Birch Tree where spirtuality, creativity and overcoming adversity were born.
I’ve been told I’ve got unused thematic potential. I consider this my challenge in putting it to more effective use. My potter’s wheel keeps spinning as I mold the hard curves into softer edges and even out the rough spots to a softer, more refined piece. I’m not sure if I’ll know what the end piece will look like until I am truly there but I will know when it’s done. I won’t have to ask, “so what.”