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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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