Update: Through much soul-searching, this book has morphed into a different story. I closed down my Kickstarter account days after the campaign began, when I realized that there was a different story that I wanted to tell, one that I had to tell first. I will be talking about this new story on the blog and hope you will stay tuned for more news.
It was the hardest thing I had to learn.
That a memoir is not linear in a this- happened-and-then-that-happened sort of way. But with the help of a brilliant editor, I was able to extract the story, the one story I wanted to tell, from all the mish-mash that is my life.
Writing a first memoir can be tough because you tend to want to include everything. So you must constantly search for your story—and stay true to that one story until you get to the end.
You learn to meticulously, ruthlessly, toss out any detail that does not illustrate or illuminate this one story.
Because a memoir is just one slice of your life.
And each slice is different. Each tells a unique story.
Figuring out where and when your story stops is a challenge in memoir because the characters are real people and they continue to live, to make mistakes, to grow. But you must stop when the story ends, when this particular story ends.
And in the course of writing this one story (because it has taken me two years), I found out new things and struggled over whether I should revise my story to reflect that new thing. I was tempted because I wanted to tell the truth.
The whole truth.
‘But what is your story about?’
My friend Marion Roach Smith, author of The Memoir Project, tells how interesting new information came to light as she was working on her memoir about her mother, Another Name for Madness: The Dramatic Story of a Family’s Struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. While writing the book, Marion found out quite accidentally that her mom had had a lengthy affair with another man while she was married, a man she never stopped loving. Smith said:
So, what do you do with that? I obsessed over it as I was writing the book. Could we amend the subtitle of that book to be ‘The dramatic story of a family’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, as evidenced in a wife and mother who lied to her family without anyone but her elder daughter finding out until her dementia made her so sloppy with the details of her life that even the young woman writing this book was forced to notice what she could have known for fourteen years’?”
Do you see how complicated it can get?
But I learned that it comes down to one question. What is your story about? Is it possible to narrow it down to one word or a phrase?
She’s Out Late: It’s About Freedom
She’s Out Late tells the story of two women trying to break free: free to choose the person they were meant to be, free to choose their own path in life.
On one level, it’s about a daughter breaking free, coming out as gay later in life than most people do. On another level, it’s about a mother who is also coming out late—as her own person, finally free of her mother’s grip.
Help Me Tell This Story: Join My Kickstarter Campaign
I have just launched my Kickstarter She’s Out Late campaign to take my memoir from draft to published form. If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, it is an amazing site that connects people who want to bring new things to life with the backers they need to make it happen.
Aside from educational book reviews, I don’t promote or recommend stuff on my blog. But this one time, I am inviting you, my readers, to consider getting involved. Whether you make a direct pledge or share this project in your social media circles, your participation can make the difference in seeing that this book is brought into the world.
I invite you to visit my Kickstarter page to learn more about She’s Out Late and how you can help me bring it to life. And email me if you’d like a copy of the already linked tweets and Facebook/Google+ updates that make it easy for you to share this project with your own circles.
Most of all, thanks for being a part of this community.