Memoir

Here is a blog post about writing. Everyone should leave the building at this point, except.. no, everybody. Just go while you can.

I wrote a book about our time on Quest. The first part of it – until we landed in the Caribbean. In total it was six months of travel. Six months! Ha! It felt like six years.

I sweated over parts and breezed through other bits. The beginning of the book was impossible for me. I spent literal months twisting every single word. Then the last twenty-thousand I churned out in a couple of weeks. In the end it was done. I knew I wasn’t going to sell it. Don’t get me wrong – I tried. It was a a pity project. I sent it to my three favourite literary agencies and each sent back their swift rejection. With no feedback – of course.

This made me think. What was I going to do? Well, nothing duh. Years of work means nothing when it comes to creativity. Slogging for sweat alone is an artist’s job, And this book was a memoir. Memoir genre meant that I either stayed proud about its truthful contents, or I made the book interesting. And when I mean interesting, I mean fiction. In order to make people want to read it, I’d have to start making stuff up. Ok fine. I get it – what’s the value of honesty itself if it isn’t a good story? But the most annoying thing for me was I was too close to see anything properly. Definitely not a good story.

As I’ve said in a previous blog, I gave the book last year to my friend Patrick to read. He just finished his PhD in English Literature. He read it and for a very modest sum, gave me pretty detailed feedback. Some of it was painful and a little bit of it was ok. Even though I never wanted to see it again, I couldn’t let it go.

I wrote to Patrick again. He met me on Thursday.

I hit him with my awesome idea. ‘Maybe I should just start it again.’

He shook his head. ‘That’s what everyone says. It’s the most tempting thing to do. The thing is, you’ll hit the exact same problems as the last time. This way you’re just running from your problems.’

I stared dumbly. ‘But it’s a pile of crap.’

Patrick looked at me like he was assessing whether shaking me would be a good idea in broad daylight. I’m not the smartest person. ‘You need to be kind to yourself with this. To the person who wrote this four-years ago. She was trying her best.’

‘Huh. Well, that version of me definitely had better skin in those days.’

His eyebrow lifted. ‘She couldn’t have been all that bad.’

I did have bad skin in the Caribbean. Priorities.

‘What shall I do’

‘Tweak it. Get rid of some sections and expand on others. I think the book could work well then.’

A memoir? I’d long consigned to it meaning nothing. But work = time. And time needs to be kept in bottles.

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