I wonder if “Memoirs” is a French word? I like words in other languages. In China, they have a word for when you’re not hungry but you eat because your mouth is lonely. Isn’t that cool? I don’t remember the actual word but hearing about the description of it made me smile. They have a word in German too – it means being cheered up by the misfortunes of other people. At first, that struck me as awful – imagine being happy that someone else was suffering? But now I’ve experienced Anne in my life, yeah – I’d definitely feel better if I knew she was homeless or in jail.
Or shot point blank in the face, whatever.
Because friends on Facebook are loving my chapters on “Rajesh” and “Hayley” and have asked time and time again to hear more about them, I got to thinking about my writing skills in general. I think I must be good at it because my friends seem to really like it and when I read back on past blogs, I think they flow well and are easy to read.
I’ve always had in mind that I’d love to be a writer but I haven’t had the confidence to follow it through. I’ve written in journals (and I still have every single one of them) since I was 13 and I love to write. It’s wonderful. Can you imagine if I become a published, proper Author?!? Woah.
I read a book just recently by Rosie Waterland “The Anti-Cool girl” and it inspired me because her story was a little similar to mine – we’ve both been through a lot in our lives. Her writing style was similar to mine, too – clever, cheeky, happy and hopeful but also raw and gritty. She wrote about sending sample chapters to a popular Magazine and they loved it and hired her. From there, she wrote and published her Memoirs.
I felt this excited, giddy tingling in my body that maybe I could do it, too.
So, I selected 3 blogs I really like and sent them to 6 Publishers. The worst that could happen is that they say no. That would be an ok outcome. I could accept defeat and keep plugging away at my reception job – or I could email more publishers, couldn’t I?
I researched popular Publishers on Google and made a list of the 6 that were looking for non-fiction/autobiography-style submissions. I was excited as I tailored each cover letter to match each Publisher’s submission guidelines and I sent them off.
It took weeks before I heard anything back.
4 Publishers rejected me.
Ok. I kind of expected that.
1 didn’t write back.
1 accepted my submission and asked for the rest of the book!!!
Olympia Publishers, you guys made my day!!! They asked to see my whole manuscript but all I had was my blogs. I hadn’t formatted them into a manuscript.
Side note: I had to Google what a manuscript even was! Turns out, its the completed draft of a book. Huh.
I excitedly watched dozens of YouTube videos and reading articles on writing a book. Some of them were helpful and some just plain confusing.
Little by little over the last 4-6 weeks, I’ve been putting together a manuscript of my life. I thought I was writing an Autobiography, but when I looked up what one was, it wasn’t what I was doing. My book is a collection of stories about my life that jump back and forwards in time, it doesn’t follow a linear pattern, it’s just me sharing my heart with anyone willing to take a look at it. When I looked up “Memoir”, it hit me like a thousand thunderbolts because that’s what I wanted to write.
I’d put together 25 chapters (I know – I’m so extra) of blogs I liked best and thought to myself “This writing a book malarkey is easy as”. Pshht. Done. But as I did further research on writing a memoir, I needed to change more and more of my book.
First of all, I needed to cut it down. It was far too long.
Secondly, I needed a theme. I couldn’t have higgledy-piggledy chapters, there had to be an invisible thread that all the chapters had in common and would bind them together.
When I thought about my life, the common theme is that I get back up after I’ve been knocked down. With the hell I’ve been through, I should be a bitter, twisted, drugged up, broken down prostitute (no offense to amazing sex workers) living on the streets, but I’m not. I’m really happy and hopeful in spite of what I’ve been through. So my theme became ‘overcoming adversity’ and I renamed my book from “Jane Bevan is a knob” (I thought it was a hilarious title – no idea who Jane Bevan is, by the way) to “The first pancake – overcoming adversity with hopefulness: A Memoir by Janet”.
(I may well change the title 20 more times before I actually submit it, but so far I’m really liking this one).
I’ve spent this week changing out chapters and shortening my book from 25 chapters to 19. 19 chapters that talk about a time in my life where I struggled against a great adversity and how I overcame it. Okay…15 of them are about adversity and 4 are on just being silly and happy, but I thought a balance needed to be established otherwise it’s a dead difficult book to read.
And guess what? The 5th Publisher who didn’t respond? WELL THEY WANT TO SEE MORE OF/POTENTIALLY PUBLISH ME, too.
Can you even believe it? I’m SO EXCITED!!!
Austin McCauley, you guys are AMAZING. Thank you for wanting to read more of my chapters.
I’ve been chugging away, happily imagining all the things I’ll buy for Alun and my friends when I’m being paid millions for my first book, but today I’ve finally hit “the wall”.
Today my friends, I hate my book and I never want to look at it again.
What was I thinking?
I can’t write a book. This is too hard.