I love reading memoirs and diaries (published ones!)
I recently picked up three memoirs at Half Price Books: “Waiting – the true confessions of a waitress,” by Debra Ginsberg, “But enough about me,” by Jancee Dunn and “Growing up Psychic,” by Matthew Modine.
I enjoyed all three, but the opening of Ginsberg’s memoir really spoke to me:
“I’ve been a writer longer than I’ve been a waitress and, as such, a perpetual student of the human experience… I wanted my own stories and saw no better way to collect them… Truly, there has never been a dull moment at the table. And the stories I have gathered there are colorful, passionate, absurd, and intimately human. It is my turn, now, to share them.”
As I read Debra Ginsberg’s memoir it struck me that I have several boxes of handwritten journals spanning the past 25 years of my life. If words composted the way yard waste does, those boxes would be one big steaming pile of diaries.
The idea began to tickle my brain. Maybe, just maybe, I ought to sift through those journals and share some of my stories – but which ones?
How Twitter prompted me to start writing a memoir
On January 6th, I had a little exchange on Twitter with @riverand that prompted me to finally choose a time frame for my memoir. In her tweet, she asked people’s opinions on homeschooling, and I replied that I’d done it for 5 years.
@riverand: first 5 years of schooling, or some other time? #justcurious
@mentalmosaic: Home-schooled daughter 5 yrs ‘cuz lived on island with pop of 7 people at the time! Kinda like Gilligan’s Isle – lol!
I then realized I had misread her tweet. I thought she was asking why I home schooled not when. Even so, she replied with:
@riverand: You may have misread the tweet, but that was amazingly interesting!! WHAT an experience!!
@mentalmosaic: Been thinking about transcribing my diaries from that time, actually. It was an adventure!
@riverand: DEFINITELY! Make that a running segment on your blog! “Monday’s Memoirs” or “Turn Back Time Tuesdays” (I like alliteration)
@mentalmosaic: You’ve got my mental cogs turning… (I love alliteration, too!) #commenthour
It took several hours, but I dug through those boxes and found all I could from the island years. Phew! But then I got cold feet again. The whole thing seemed overwhelming. Self doubt started pecking at me, and I was tempted to ditch the idea.
Once again, enter Twitter. On January 24th, completely out of the blue, @themjohnclark quoted part of my bio in a tweet, “I spent 5 years on a tiny island with a population of 7 people,” and then remarked: WAY COOL
I tweeted back that I was writing a book about it, and – not wanting to be a liar – immediately started transcribing my diaries, as follows:
Tue Jan 24 = started transcribing diary
Wed Jan 25 = 10,000 words total
Thu Jan 26 = 21,000 words total
Fri Jan 27 = 35,000 words total
Sat Jan 28 = 48,000 words total
I learned about ROW80 from – you guessed it – Twitter!
On the 25th, I learned about A Round of Words: The writing challenge that knows you have a life while participating in the weekly #commenthour on Twitter. Rather than explain what it is here, check out the great post @riverand wrote about it entitled, And then I found ROW80. She gives me a nice little shout out in her post, too! :)
My ROW80 goals
The bottom line is that I’ve joined ROW80, which requires blog check-ins each Wednesday and Sunday. Here are my ROW80 goals:
– Complete a memoir covering the first sixteen months that I lived on Sinclair Island.
– Attend the DFWcon Writers Conference in May.
– Pitch my memoir to an agent at the conference.
My first step is to transcribe all the words I have for this time period into one big messy file by the end of January. I’d like the finished product to be 60,000 – 75,000 words long, like a novel. I want it to read like a novel, and will toss out things that don’t tie in with the overall storyline.
So there you have it, my first ROW80 check-in. See you on Wednesday! :)
The ROW80 Linky List
Here’s the Linky List (I’m #32!) in case you want to add your blog, too: