I’ll talk a bit about some art stuff, but then – I’m just warning you – I’ll then be going on a long, extensive twiddle-twaddle about the book. It’s because October is here and it’s the last leg in my plan before I get this thing off to my editor, but I digress. First, here’s where that watercolor is. It’s not much further along than where it was last time we spoke. It’s been a slow progression because I’ve been busy with other things.
Today I’ll be dropping a little painting off at Room & Board in Culver City for the Art & Home show. This is a yearly benefit I participate in to help raise money for LA Family Housing. If you’re planning on going to this event, please RSVP HERE (starting October 3rd). The show is Wednesday, October 26th and ALL the art in the show is only $400! There will be about 100 artists in the show too. So this is your chance to really get in on a huge bargain – or even a great way to finally start your art collection. The whole thing has been very lovingly organized by artist, Trine Churchill. She somehow manages to pull this all together – three years running.
I have been remiss in mentioning that I am currently in a book arts show in Chicago, IL called words|matter. It’s up through October 30th at Arts on Elston Gallery at 3446 N. Albany. And that reminds me that I recently got news that Vamp & Tramp placed a couple of my books (ADBN & Houses) in at least two new collections (but I don’t know which collections yet). They’ve been on a five week tour, traveling around the country. They’re hitting as many universities, collectors, and museums as they can.
As I mentioned before, I’ve been working on my COLA grant application and my proposal finally took shape the other day. I sent it to Ellie to see if she thought it made any sense and I’m waiting to hear back. It’s always a good idea to get someone else’s eyes on what you write, especially when you’re trying to explain art. Well, you should always have someone proofread your stuff, but I’m just saying, writing about art is difficult. It’s so subjective and it’s very hard to explain what it is you want to do and why. You have to be descriptive and clear – and concise. Me, concise? And they want this part in less than 300 words, yet you have to squeeze in your “pitch” in – why it would be good for the trajectory of your career and all that too. Gah.
That brings me to writing in general. Here I go…Monday (tomorrow), I will be opening my Scrivener program and reading through my book. I am antsy and nervous. It’s really all I’ve been thinking about though. It’s been in the back of my mind while I’m doing everything else. In any spare time I’ve had, I’ve been jotting down notes and reading a few “tips” online about memoirs, most in which were garbage. Some though, are very informative, educational, inspiring, and have even helped me so much that I’ve been able to sleep a lot better at night. They’ve given me a chance to come to different conclusions and decisions, realizations, etc. I can share them with you. And I’m going to. Ha!
It’s no secret that I’ve been beyond stressed out about the length of my book. It’s just too long. I have been up nights freaking out about how and where I could cut more out. But I’ve also been grief-stricken about some of the things I’ve chopped. Still, the book, as it sits now, is twice as long as an “average” size – in terms of a length that a publisher would consider publishing without a lot more cajoling about its length. It’s hard enough to get a major publisher to take on your book in the first place. If I am going to go the route of professionally editing this thing, and I like how it reads in the end, I will then want to publish it. It’s a matter if I think it’s good enough. That’s all.
So, let’s say I do want to try to take it to an agent or a publisher, and Lisa is able to chop it a lot more? She still can’t chop it in half. And if she did, I’m going to be more sad about what gets left out. Because I’ve already taken out so much, and I mean important stuff (I feel). I’m not even talking about stuff where I just thought the writing was good or funny. I’m talking about the guts and the story. No matter which way I turn, the book is going to be no less than 500 pages.
Anyway, now that I’ve had a few weeks off, I’ve thought about it and I actually want to bring a couple of chapters back! I know, awful, right? That’s going to make the book a bit longer. I can try to make up for it by cutting other things instead, but it’s going to be difficult. However, bringing those chapters back would really help how the story reads. When I read it back, there will be some things that seem important to me that, to a reader, just won’t be. I know this now. Those are the things that need to be nixed. Even things that may have seemed “devastating” to me. A fight with someone, a small change in my life, etc. I really need to look at this stuff with a very critical eye and pay attention to how it reads.
All those “questions” I laid out for myself in that previous blog post. Fuck those. What I need to keep in mind is, “is this interesting?” and more importantly, will I be able to connect to the reader? It’s actually fairly simple, yet extremely important to me. I’m doing this to connect to someone else that can relate to my situation (in any form) and relieve their doubt in some fashion. Basically, if I can survive all of this, then you can too. That’s a lofty goal, but there it is. In a nutshell, I want connection. Connection in the only way I know how – through art.
I came to this conclusion after reading a lot of stuff about writing, even though I thought most of it was pretty silly advice that didn’t have much to do with MY book. However, some authors wrote articles about what the goal of your book is/was, or what the goal was in writing your “memoir” was: is it for your children to learn about you? Is it to publish? To share the time you climbed a mountain or backpacked around India? Etc. And the one thing that was odd to me was that I did not have one iota in common with any of these situations – in a technical sense. It threw me into a spin, made me more confused, and then I would stop reading that shit for another few days until I had another specific question about memoirs again. I’d think about the memoirs I’ve read, or my favorite ones. Bee Season, for instance. It focuses on a specific subject and a finite number of years in Myla Goldberg’s life. But my book is about so many things over such a huge array of years.
I went through my memory of the manuscript and wrote a 900 word summary of the whole story and picked out the main subjects it covers. Ten. Ten major subjects it “focuses” on. All 10 are important. All 10 I want to keep and they are all integral to the story. And then it hit me. It hit me last night. Like a big piano falling on my head.
I don’t want to focus on one or two things because I don’t want to write a memoir. That is what a memoir is. I never wanted to write a memoir. I wanted to write my life’s story. And, like it or not, that is an autobiography. Now, I absolutely hate that word, “autobiography,” and in the beginning, I wanted to write a novel. I wanted to fictionalize it all. But it’s all true, so I started calling it “non-fiction.” Deep down, I knew I was writing an autobiography, but I didn’t want to call it that, so I started calling it “creative non-fiction.” Anything as to not use that dull and creepy, and frankly narcissistic word. But now, all I want to do is embrace that damn word because it saves me all the stress I’ve been having about so many things. Like the length, the focus, the chronology, chopping things I don’t want to, and just ALL of it.
So, AUTOBIOGRAPHY is my savior!
I just feel better now and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Over and out.