Dear Lit Loves,
Greetings! No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth or the back of a turnip truck for that matter. I have been busy. Busy with what?? I am completing final edits on my second memoir! Editing a manuscript is NEVER an easy task. I do not care what anyone says and that includes English teachers and I was an English teacher for crying out loud!
You know, I used to think that writing a memoir was the most difficult part of the writing process. And now, nine years into the whole process I can definitively say, Hell No! That might have been the easiest part. I have a different writing process than most writers I know. Initially, I slam or bang out the memoir with a no-holds-barred attitude and allow grammar and spelling errors to fly right out the window for all I care. That's right, just get the story down on paper once I have outlined each chapter. Now, this is what I call free writing - just get with the program, open the laptop and start typing with no filter. Seriously. When I had students who pitched a fit and said they could not write, my policy as an instructor was to always implement free-writing. Just get the gist of the story down on paper and to hell with the grammatical errors, spelling errors, etc. for now.
Once I complete free-writing a manuscript, you know what I do? I stuff the manuscript in a saved file on my laptop and I walk away from it. No lie. I go do other things like attend my book club meeting, attend another author's meet and greet, go get lost in Barnes and Noble for half a day, visit my brother and solve the world's problems over lunch, and read, read, read other books in the memoir genre along with books chosen by my book club members. I truly do not think about the manuscript. And then one fine day I will be reminded of that memoir manuscript sitting in a file on my laptop and I will think, damn, I really should go read what I wrote.
Then I go back to my laptop, pull up the manuscript file and read what I wrote. While I am reading it I start thinking maybe I should really detail this particular event more so I add to it. Then I will catch spelling errors, grammatical errors, etc. I start going over the manuscript with an initial first edit attempt. And then once again, I save the manuscript in a file on my laptop and I put it away for maybe a week or two while I go visit my mom and help her search for a new car.
When I return for a second edit, I am really going over the manuscript plot in detail. And I am noticing if I see any errors. Do I need to rewrite an entire chapter? Do I need to delete or add a chapter? I am also editing to determine if I can hear my "voice" in the manuscript as I read it. Does this manuscript even read like I am sitting across from you at Page Road Grill and relating a story to you? Are there any southern expressions used in the manuscript that I might need to explain to the reader? Is the title I chose for this or that chapter appropriate or should it be changed entirely? This is often when I run downstairs and ask my husband, "What do you think of a chapter in my next memoir with the title: blah, blah, blah.?" And he will generally ask me what that particular chapter is about and I will give him the short and dirty synopsis of the chapter. He will either say he likes it and it is appropriate or he suggests I change the title of the chapter entirely. My husband is unflinchingly honest so that's why I generally consult him in relation to my manuscripts.
Then I go back one more time and solely edit for grammar and spelling. Then I will do another edit for spacing and margins. Now, there are times when I am editing in my home office and stupid circumstances happen. Like, for instance, when my neighbor and his wife decide a builder should construct a custom-built stone patio and fire pit in their backyard at the end of JANUARY! They didn't bother to do the neighborly courteous part like give their fellow neighbor who works from home a heads up that this little expedition of theirs will take place right outside the neighbor's home office window for EIGHT DAYS STRAIGHT!!! So I get really ticked off and go find my noise-canceling headphones. Only I can still hear the jackhammer and chainsaw and oh yeah, now the construction folks are cursing one another. AND IT IS ALL SO LOUD I CANNOT CONCENTRATE AND MY NOISE-CANCELING HEADPHONES ARE NOT CUTTING IT. So my work process is interrupted for only ten days, damn it!
Finally, I resume my editing process and stare down my neighbors in an annoying manner with my best version of a death glare. Finally, I utilize the editing software I have installed on my computer. Wait, cancel that last one. My husband installed that software on my computer. It takes a while for me to see what that software finds and determine if I need to change anything or communicate a sentence in a different way. Then I rethink the title and subtitle of my memoir. Is it catchy? Will you know what the memoir is about after reading the title? Is the title too long or too short?
Then I begin thinking about the image I would like on the book's cover. I peruse stock images to determine if anything dazzles me. This takes a bit as I get sidetracked quite easily. What colors should I utilize on the book's cover? I then think about the summary that must go on the back cover of the book and do I want to add an author profile and picture? Do I even have room on the back cover of the book to include an author profile and picture??
And then I turn the whole kit n' kaboodle over to my husband who formats the e-book version. And then my husband (the tech wizard) helps me upload the manuscript as well as the book's front and back covers for printing purposes. I wait to receive a printed copy of the book to see if it knocks me right out of my Ralph Lauren loafers.
Needless to say, it is a hell of a lot of work, but it is my passion. I mean, seriously, if you are not passionate about your book then why even bother??
Looking forward to bringing you readers my second memoir soon!