Watershed for manuscript

A watershed moment has happened for my writing. It’s time for cautious celebration. There is still a long way to go.

But it did feel good yesterday when I wrote, ‘The End’ on the last page of the manuscript of my new memoir. Then I printed it, for no reason except that I could. Three hundred pages, 70 000 words. Six years.

        Old and new books

Old and new books

At last an end is in sight. I can begin to imagine my new book next to my first memoir, Other People’s Country. It’s fun to think whether it will end up with the working title I’ve lived with for six years. It’s exciting to imagine what the cover might look like.

The memoir tells the story of my elopement with John in the year I turned seventy.

Goodness knows how many drafts and rewrites I have done. I kept some of them, and deleted others. I’ve fretted about it. A lot. There’s no way to tell how many hours I’ve sat at my desk. Sometimes I wrote. Often I didn’t. Sometimes, I was pleased with what I’d written. Often, I wasn’t.

In the end, though, I’m happy with the manuscript. I think that it’s as good as I can make it, for now.

        Completed manuscript

Completed manuscript

In telling the story, I’ve tried to be a ‘truthful narrator’. The truth is always elusive, of course. But I hope I’ve got the emotional truth of the story right. I hope I’ve brought a compassionate heart to my self-editing. I would like to think that in the end I’ve been gentle with myself and the people who populate the story, while honoring my own experience.

The memoir has haunted me for a number of years. It has niggled at me, begging for completion. But the time never seemed right.

Some people have read the manuscript in various stages. They’ve been honest. They’ve been kind. Several have like it, some have not. Some have made suggestions that at first I found hard to consider.

Like many writers, I find it hard to ‘kill my darlings’. We write stuff we think is special. But in the end, the book will be better without our ‘special’ passages!

I am grateful to those who have read the manuscript and commented, and especially to my granddaughter, Jane-Heloise Nancarrow. Her thorough reading and detailed notes were often confronting and, ultimately, incredibly helpful.

This watershed is the end of stage one. The next step is to have the manuscript professionally edited, before I submit it for publication. Christina Houen at Perfect Words Editing is reading it, and I know there will be a multitude of corrections and suggestions that will take more time.

That will be later. Meanwhile, I will get on with the rest of my life.

My desks marks a watershed moment

My desk marks a watershed moment

This morning, my desk is tidy. It’s proof that I’ve reached a watershed moment. The notice board above the desk has been stripped of timetables and timelines. The plotline has gone. So have all the post-it notes. They’ve been replaced with a couple of prints of roses and a laboriously printed postcard from my five-year-old grandson, Pi.

Stripped notice board

Stripped notice board

Things I will do after my watershed moment

  • Find my pastel paints
  • Set up an easel on the back verandah and paint a picture
  • Play with some ideas for short stories
  • Explore some design elements for my blogs
  • Experiment with photography
  • Ply my crotchet needle and finish the rug I’m making
  • Enjoy picnics on these lovely autumn days
  • Spend lots of time with my family and friends.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I’d love to read your comments.

4 thoughts on “Watershed for manuscript

  1. Way to go! Congratulations Maureen! I’m so looking forward to reading this beautiful story.
    Your desk is ALWAYS tidy and peaceful! I’m modelling my new desk on yours.
    I’ve had to ‘kill off my darlings’ in a way too this weekend- three ruthless daughters sorting, packing and chucking my belongings. I know I’ll be grateful when I get to the other end and start unpacking these cartons.
    Good luck with the rest of the journey of your manuscript as it goes on its merry way and finds itself in the bookstores!!

    • Thanks. Elizabeth. Not sure it is a beautiful story now I’ve messed around writing it for so long – but I live in hope! Christina will do wonders with it, I feel sure. And there will be lots of rewriting. She’s already let me know that even though she’s just started reading the manuscript. And you don’t see my desk when it’s messy or you would never think it was tidy.

      Good on your three ruthless daughters. I’m glad they’ve been able to influence the contents of your cupboards. Do you have enough for another garage sale? John and I could help you there! I bet you all had a fabulous weekend together. I thought about you often.

    • Thanks, Emily. I’m very lucky to have such a nice space to write in, with the garden through the window – it didn’t show in the picture.

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