Monday, February 27, 2012

The End

A sample of some of my source material for my MIP — Memoir in Progress.

I hope to type The End on my vomit draft of my memoir this week. Those two words don't mean I'm finished.

After reading Marion Roach Smith's The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life, I set a goal to write five pages, five days a week. My new focus gave me a fresh hour to write. Most days, I managed to write my pages, make notes on where I should begin the next day and comment on a few blogs before Enzo woke up. I completed five pages every day but one.

I did a lot of the legwork for the memoir several years ago. I received several "send its" at a conference and a request for the full book proposal and chapters. Nothing happened, but my proposal helped me during this draft phase.

I wrote most of the vomit draft fresh. I scrapped more than 125 pages of already written, critiqued material in the process. I deleted a couple of chapters. I added new ones. I saved 21 pages.

By mid-week, I hope to type The End and move on to goal No. 3 for the year — read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I've explained the why here in No. 7.

Once I finish the Harry Potter series, I'll revise the vomit draft. It's going to be fun to fact check my own work. I inserted notes as I typed to remind me to check a source for specific details.

What sources you might ask? Well, my late husband communicated primarily with an auditory scanning system, so I had to write down each letter as he spelled out his words. This old post explains how we communicated one letter at a time.

I have a box of notebooks with many of our conversations, my journal, his journal, newspaper articles and my newspaper columns on the topic of those four years after his stroke and before his death. Had I stopped to check these sources during my vomit draft, well, I might still be writing the first chapter.

As I enter the editing phase, it makes me wonder if I can begin a new project or whether I should just focus on my revisions. Do you write and revise at the same time or focus on just one manuscript?

48 comments:

  1. I am going to ask a silly question - what is a memoir? I've hear it before but I don't know. Is it like a biography or autobiography?
    I liked reading how you go through your dafts.

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    1. Erik, A memoir is like an autobiography as it is about a writer's life. But, it doesn't span the writer's entire life. In my case, I am writing about a four-year period as a caregiver to my late husband. He had a stroke at age 33, which left him mute and paralyzed - he could blink his eyes and move his right, middle finger. Former presidents often write a memoir about their time in office or sometimes people in high profile crime cases write memoirs about their time in jail. You may have written a memoir as a personal essay about something that's happened in your life such as What I did on my summer vacation?

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  2. I think different writers work differently. Some people can focus on editing a draft and writing something new at the same time, others are better off focusing on one thing. It also depends on how much time you have available for writing. Sometimes it really helps to have 2 projects going at once though - if you stall out on one, you can work on the other for a while :)

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    1. Susanna, I'll still be working on my picture book drafts during revisions, so that thankfully gives me an outlet. I'll be seeing what works for me, soon. :)

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  3. You're doing really well Stacy. Do whatever works for you. Those of us who write shorter stories can flit from one to another easily but a memoir needs constant focus I would imagine. Enjoy HP! I can't wait to read your memoir x

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    1. Thanks Catherine. I think it will take a lot of time. The work feels like it's just beginning with The End.

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    2. I bet it will be hard when you go back and edit the sad parts. Are you going to write a pb in between edits, something lighter for a break?

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    3. Catherine, Yes. The 12x challenge is perfect motivation to stay focused on many different levels. :)

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  4. Vomit draft. Love it! I'm so pleased you wrote The End! What an accomplishment! I never work on one project at a time - always at least a dozen.

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    1. You are so busy Karen! I think working on picture books and participating in the 12x12in2012 challenge will help me work on new projects too.

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  5. I just read through some of your older posts Stacy about your time with your husband before he died and appreciate your sharing. I wanted to know more and the writing helped me understand some of what you've been through, so thank you. I will look forward to reading your book someday. Congratulations on the coming "the end" for you, & the goal of revising. Although I don't have anything so big, I do like moving from project to project for relief from one or the other. Perhaps that will work for you, too.

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    1. Linda, I'm sure I'll be looking for relief, too. You are very kind to read the old posts.

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  6. I knew you had a MIP, but now I know more of what it's about. Best wishes with your progress on it.

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    1. Thank you Susanne. I may have been too cryptic in the post. I felt like it kept getting longer and longer.

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  7. Stacey, it seems like you have been really keeping to this new year goal and it has been paying off. It will be great to strike off this stage and move onto the next. I appreciated going back and reading the "one letter at a time post." At what point in all this life experience did you decided that you wanted to work this into a memoir? Hope you enjoy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

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    1. Joanna, The night of Jimmy's stroke, the doctor tried to reassure me by saying that people in his condition had written books. Jimmy loved to read and would have been a natural to write. He never would let me read The Diving Bell and Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominque Bauby. All the books at the time were written by French patients or so it seemed. I'm sure I will enjoy HP.

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  8. I wish you well as you approach The End, Stacy. This had to be a tough book to write at times, since it deals with memories so dear to you. I can imagine the rush of emotions you'll experience when you finish. I'm glad you have a break planned, one that will help you recharge. I hope, too, that you take time to rejoice and celebrate this great accomplishment.

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    1. Thank you Keli. I knew I needed a reward, so to speak. The revision phase may be more difficult than the writing part. Just gathering a few items for the photo brought back many memories.

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  9. I pretty much work on one at a time, although others will sometimes intrude forcing me to write notes down.
    When you get to The End I am sure it will be emotional in so many ways. I just read the communicating post about your late husband for the first time. Like Linda said above, I too am interested in reading your memoir when you finish. Good luck this week Stacy!

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    1. Thanks Coleen for reading this and that post. I like the idea of writing the notes down as you work on another project. Otherwise, I forget.

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  10. Stacy, now I understand your comment to me when Beth put the spotlight on me. I didn't know until today about Jimmy, and have spent the past 30 min going back over all of your old posts. I am really excited about your writing a memoir. It's thrilling that you got your first draft written. I've been prompted by so many doctors to write my memoir, but haven't. I just don't know where to begin -- I've made some lame attempts. There are other reasons too. But, you have a great deal to offer to others. And, I'm in awe of what you are doing!

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    1. Patricia, glad you understand now and you all are too kind to explore the past posts. Glad you understand my comment now. I had to do the vomit draft, because I think as a journalist I was too focused on the details to write the story. So, we'll see how this worked for me during the revision process.

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    2. Perhaps, that's my problem. I get caught up in details. And, I figure that there are enough really good books out there like "My Stroke of Insight" by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor. But, mine wasn't a stroke.

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    3. Patricia, There are lots of places to submit personal essays on the topic, if you don't want to write a book. Who knows?

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  11. Stacy - what an amazing undertaking! But, that does not surprise me with you. I think you are an AMAZING WOMAN! Congratulations to you on coming to the end of your 'vomit draft'. Ooh I love the sound of that. I am excited to follow the progress of the publication of your memoir. - Best of luck, Maeve

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    1. Thanks Maeve. I have lots of work still to do, but I have a foundation.

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  12. Congrats in advance.... go vomit :)

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  13. I love the term vomit draft. I can use that during Nano this November. 50,00 words? Yeah, that's a vomit draft just waiting to happen. Best wishes to you!

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    1. Stephen, Yep. Nano manuscripts can sometimes fall into that category.

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  14. I am so impressed with how dedicated you've been to your goal! Sometimes I write on one project while editing another, but sometimes it makes me feel schizophrenic.

    ~Debbie

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    1. Debbie, I'm hoping to avoid any mental situations during the process. :)

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  15. I can do both revisions and drafting, but that's because I do only a little revising a day. If I do too much, I become ineffective.

    Have fun revising!

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    1. Thanks for the tip Emily. I'm looking forward to the process and see where I fall in revision and draft process.

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  16. Stacy, I am so proud of you and inspired by you for how you set this goal and stuck to it. I'm willing to bet it might be even a bit more than a vomit draft!

    I went back and read some of the posts you wrote about caring for your husband. I didn't really know the story, and now that I do, WOW! Having gone through all that you did at such a young age... I can't even imagine. I so look forward to the day it is in print so I can read it and learn from you. You know what it is to really love and really give.

    WOW. Just had to say it again.

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    1. Julie, I hope it's more than vomit in some places. I hope to see it in print, too. Thanks.

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  17. You are an inspiration! Happy "the end" typing and good luck with your revisions.

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  18. Yay Stacy!!!!!!!!! I am so thrilled for you. I just read about your hubby and all that you two went through together. You are one amazing and inspiring woman. I am so thankful God placed you in my life. I hope to someday read this book. And very soon. I heart you lady!!!!!!!!

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    1. Thanks Robyn. I hope you can read it one day.

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  19. Ooh, what a great place to be!!! I love finishing the first draft. Then you get into the fun part - the editing. I personally only WORK on one manuscript at a time, but I mull another one over as I'm working. The mulling is very important and is one of my favorite times with a book. Good luck whatever you decide!

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    1. Laura, Thanks. Yes — the fun part - the editing! Woo hoo.

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  20. I love the way you call it a vomit draft. That's awesome. I try to finish the first draft before I start editing otherwise I get myself into trouble.

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    1. Lynda, That's how I failed in the past. Writing a chapter, getting feedback, etc. With the vomit draft, I wrote through chapter 1 to chapter 28. So, now, I'll do my edits and revisions.

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  21. OK -I understand the difference now (between a memoir and a biography), and you're right -I guess I have written a memoir for school! Thank you!!

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    1. Yes Erik, I suspected you were a memoir writer too.

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  22. I love the term "vomit" draft. I was much too meticulous at the beginning, but to get to "the end" I had to vomit. I deleted a lot of it but was surprised at how much of it was really good, because the words weren't being hindered by the inner critic/sensor. I don't have the answer to your specific question, but I think there's value in giving a manuscript some space to breathe before tackling the edits.

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  23. Angie, I'm still giving it space. I hope I find some usable stuff in that draft.

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