Wow. I haven’t been here since October 2nd? Well, I’ve been entirely buried in Shrapnel, just like I said I’d be. Lisa Teasley will be taking my manuscript sometime near the beginning of next month to edit, and hopefully shorten, and then give it back. Then I’ll see if I have any semblance of a book. I’ve obviously been very impatient these last few months, and especially weeks. I’ve probably been a bit annoying writing about going through this whole process – but I just want to say to any readers out there, thank you for bearing with me.
Let’s see, last time I was flipping out about the genre of my book – whether it was a memoir or an autobiography. Ha ha. This also had a lot to do with the thing I’ve been flipped out about (practically) this whole process, which is the word count. I learned that a memoir is usually very short, like no more than 110,000 words, and it’s usually focused on one subject (or so), or a time frame, or something like that. It also doesn’t need to be in chronological order. And it’s probably better if it’s not.
An autobio is in chronological order and can be long because it’s about your entire life’s story. It isn’t supposed to read like fiction either. It reads like non-fiction/historical/factual/etc.
So, I am writing neither one of these. Not exactly my entire life. Not exactly chronological, and focused on more than even 10 subjects.
My friend and author/poet, Hosho McCreesh, we’ve been having a lot of back and forth correspondence via email. He has recently finished a novel. It’s nice to have someone to talk to about writing, or any similar project while you are working one too. He suggested that maybe I’m breaking new ground on an entirely new genre called a memoigraphy, or something like that. Ha ha! Maybe he spelled it differently, but I like that. And then there’s mjp, who tells me to just relax (as if!) and ignore what it’s “supposed” to be and not worry about what genre it is at all. Not my job to know anyway, he says. He’s right. No doubt, but I’ve also read that some agents want to you to add some comparable books and genres in with your cover letter. Of course, just some of them. Also, agents list what genre of books they are open to accept for submission.
If I’m going to try to publish this thing, I have to think about this stuff I suppose.
I’ve been getting some good resources from a blog I’ve been frequenting lately called Two Drops of Ink. I even found an interesting article with a link to a list of agents that are specifically looking for memoirs. I have found the articles on this blog to be pretty insightful, depending on who wrote them. Even the ones that are iffy have bits and pieces that can be helpful and educational, or at least give some food for thought. It’s always good to consider new things. Of course, you never have to use outside ideas, but sometimes they spark your own flashes of brilliance. Or idiocy. Or whatever. The site also publishes various writers: articles, memoirs, essays, poetry, short stories, etc. Anyone can submit. They often have “challenges.” It’s not my style in any way, but I can always glean things from those sorts of community based efforts. I always just wish there was one that was smaller, more focused, contemporary, gritty, etc, but I guess that’s not very inclusive.
So it was October 3rd that I said I would start a last “read-through” of the book, and that’s not what happened. Of course I’m editing. Not a ton, but a little. I’ve also managed to chop more, even though I brought back three chapters! Oh wait, that’s not true, I brought back two. I was going to bring back a chapter about Kim Fowley, rock n’ roll “legend” (he wasn’t really). He’s dead now, and he may have helped form some great bands, or specifically, the Runaways, but he was mostly famous for being a skeeze. My band nearly worked with him. Thankfully, we got out while we still could, and he never did anything wildly inappropriate with any of our members, but because of the nature of my book and the stories that have come out since his death, I could not ethically bring myself to dedicate a chapter about him.
Even though I brought back a couple of chapters, not only was I able to make up the difference so that the word count didn’t skyrocket any higher, I’ve been able to cut 8,000 more words. And I still have about 15% more to go yet. It could either stay around there, or be cut a little more. We’ll see.
You gotta hear me when I say I’ve been on a bipolar roller coaster ride with this entire process, every day, at each section of the book’s content, during all the different technical edits, digging deep in order to write about the hard stuff, trying to find a little lightness and humor even when I was blank, strategically trying to string together a narrative with bits of breathing room, cutting some of the very best parts of my creative writing abilities just because they didn’t work in the story (Gah!), doing whatever possible NOT to be obsessed and consumed with finishing it (nothing works by the way), wanting to publish it, not wanting to publish it, back and forth with that, feeling terrified about getting sued, attacked, disliked, judged, bombarded, ignored, becoming the laughingstock, flicked away like lint or seen as the biggest hack to ever to try so hard…for nothing.
All I am left with now, and I have to thank Hosho for giving me some inspiration on this one, is for me to make damn sure that I am writing the book I really want to write. I only want to feel good about it. That way, none of these other things will really matter. It won’t matter if it gets published either.
What I wish I had is the confidence, or maybe it’s not really that word exactly, maybe it’s the resoluteness (I guess that is a word!), that mjp has. He’s more bold and certain about what he does when he writes, and when he does his podcast, and I want that too. Hosho feels good about the book he just wrote and that inspired me to get working on my own book to make sure I have that same thing covered too, so everybody, wish me luck. I’m going back to work.