Friday, March 6, 2015

Memoir structure -- working it out (mentally)

Is anyone else still rocking out to the Disney Tarzan soundtrack? Because I sure am.

It's Friday, y'all! Yippee!

What does everyone have planned for the weekend?

Remember that hike I told you I was so excited about last weekend?

Well it didn't happen.


wait for it,

it RAINED in Los Angeles.

I know.

Remember those celebratory Bud Lights I told you about, that happen post-hike? Well those did happen. So put a little smile on your face for that fun factoid of life.

Let's see what else I can tell you.

Have I told you I've done hardly any reading this year?

Sucking face -- I mean, writing -- will do that to you. It really eats into your reading time.

True confessions, the only book I've finished this calendar year is "Frog and Toad are Friends." Last year my tally was 50 books by Dec. 31 (granted several of those were meant for an audience of ages 2 - 13, so calm down before you think I'm some reading genius. We're talking "Pippi Longstocking," People, not "Brothers Karamazov").

I have read almost all of "Hyperbole and a Half," which was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law. It's laugh out loud funny, y'all. I especially enjoyed the chapters about the repeating parrot and the hot sauce. I was essentially choking on my spit, and I thought my neighbors might think I was a little cray. But no one knocked on the door to check on my well being, so I guess things are OK.

Or maybe I should be offended.

I'm also currently reading Donald Miller's "Scary Close," his latest book about relationships and emotional intimacy. A friend was kind enough to gift it to me. I've been a fan of Don for a while, and I'd like to review this book and pitch it to a publication. And the subject matter is timely for my life.

Last Saturday was my mandatory writing day for the month of February. I did all right. I'm not hugely proud of what I accomplished.

Interestingly, Don Miller speaks to this in his current book. He says that he is never satisfied with the amount of writing he does; it never feels like enough.

This reminds me of something I learned in psychology class in high school. It's best to set moderate goals for one's self. If you aim too low, you'll never be very proud of yourself, because you know you're doing something easy. If you aim too high, you won't be proud, because you can't achieve what you've set out to do.

I don't think that setting aside a day each month to write is unreasonable, but I am still trying to figure out what exactly I want to accomplish in that time. Originally the plan was to write a book chapter during each mandatory writing day.

So far I'm two mandatory writing days down, no book chapters to show.

I did submit a short memoir to some contests this year, and I feel like that was a great hash-out exercise to get something resembling a draft of a larger memoir. So I thought about expanding on that, just filling in all the spaces between paragraphs with more word-vomit to flesh out the story.

I've also told myself, "Well, if you write another essay [for a contest] about your senior prom experience, then you can use that as another outline to get at your feeling-left-out-feeling-weird-in-high-school section of your book."

But is my book going to have such a section? Is it going to be chunked by themes, or chunked chronologically?

Of course I won't know this until I get to the editing phase, and I won't get there until I first vomit all the words onto the page.

I talked to a writer this weekend who I've only met twice but whom I like and trust, and he reminded me what all great writers remind us: there is no way around it, no matter how special you think you are, you've got to just get the words on the page.

Part of it is that I don't want to open up painful wounds. I don't want to talk about anxiety, depression, feeling left out in high school. I don't want to go there, admit that.

The other part of me, honestly, is bored. I'm boring myself. I know my story too well.

Or do I? In writing I discover so much.

When you think what you're writing is boring, let me just tell you this is not a motivator to keep writing. Because then you think your readers will hate it.

Scratch that. You think you won't have readers because they'll be bored hence they won't bother.

Well this same new writer friend who I barely know but do like and trust also encouraged me that my story is worth telling, with me as the specific, though at times seemingly mundane (my words, not his), author.

So that was good. And I greatly enjoyed gabbing with him over beers.

So that's where I sit, homies. I have plenty of free Saturdays and Sundays this month to declare as my mandatory writing day for March. Who knows? Maybe I'll schedule in TWO of them. Ooooh.

Today's pay day. That's exciting.

First purchase? Mini donuts and coffee.

Second "purchase"? Payment toward the credit card bill.


Over and out. Keep writing. Loves. -- The Daily Bailey

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