Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to write a memoir

    Writing a memoir is not easy.  Once a friend told me I'm not like other writers.  "Writing memoirs is easy," she said.  "You don't have to plot things.  You just write what happened.  How hard can that be?  Writing fiction is much harder . . . that's what real authors do."  Her comment made me laugh inside though.  For someone who couldn't write a memoir, she sure knew a lot about them.
    In a sense, she was right (I didn't have to plot things), but in so many other ways she was wrong.  By writing a memoir, I took everything about myself and put it on the line.  I wrote about people I love . . . people I hate.  
    My first memoir, "The Golden Sky," is actually my journal.  It's there for everyone to see my strengths and my weaknesses.  Another person said she didn't like some of the choices my main character made.  I guess that's because I didn't sugarcoat anything--tough luck the main character is me.
    My book has been published for a little over a month; strangers, friends and family have read it.  I've received amazing letters in care of Wayman Publishing.  I've gotten e-mails and phone calls.  Some people are upset they weren't in my journal.  Some "friends" feel terrible about the way they treated me, Cade, even Zeke's memory.  Sure, their names have been changed, but they know who they are.
    I thought about apologizing to those I'd written about, then I changed my mind.  "The Golden Sky" is real.  Sometimes, just like my blog, life is hilarious, fun, even when it's kicking you down, there's always something good to take from the situation, and that's what my book is about.  I had no money.  My son died.  I kicked my husband out.  But, I had a daughter to fight for, a family who would support me (even while moving my furniture when I was away) and I also had those strange people (like Miss Priss) who always seem to be a part of my life.
    So, is writing a memoir easy?  No.  But I think it's absolutely worth it.  
    Just last week I received two e-mails that made me feel like Christmas came early.  Here are two quotes from them:

    "I was so often struck by how completely real and raw your pain and sorrow was throughout the first parts of the book.  And I went along for that ride, Miss Elisa, I really, really did, through the ups and downs - God, it still feels like my heart is in a vice when I think about it - it was just so drenched with your pain, soaked with your soul, that it was impossible not to.  
    "You are such a beautiful writer - and freakin' funny.  There were points where I was crying and laughing like a crazy person at the same time (again, subways, I really didn't get any stares).  Your soul truly is in each word- you've folded it up so it would leak into each one of these pages.  It's so brave of you to share these pieces of yourself with us.  Brave because you are exposing a part of your life that was pure hell on earth - but I have to tell you, it's one of the most inspirational pieces of literature that I've ever read."  

    That e-mail meant the world to me, especially because I'd just gotten a phone call from a family member who thinks it's terrible I'd put so much of my life out for everyone to see.
    The next e-mail made me cry.  Do you remember how I decided what to accomplish in life?  If I can do anything, any one thing, I want to be called a 'good shit' after I die.  Well, one of the Vietnam Vets read my book.  Here's what he sent to me (talk about the best thing ever):

    ''If ever our country is in danger of being 'over run' by  the enemy.....I would pick 'you' to be fighting next to me ....you are one tough woman''!!!!.....You take care..................

    If you've thought about writing a memoir, I encourage you to do so.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone has something special to share.  Although it's been hard, it can be worth it and so rewarding too.


    From now until January 6th (the Epiphany), my eBook is listed as 99 cents HERE on Smashwords and for kindle it's 2.99 HERE on Amazon.
    P.S. Remember my book launch? How Cade and I purchased an iPad2 to give away to a lucky winner? Well, last week someone won. Her named is Robin Murphy!!! Congratulations.  I hope you'll love it.

P. S. My laptop still isn't fixed. I'm on my mom's computer. Thank goodness for mothers ;)