I read The Ditchdigger’s Daughters in 11th grade when I had absolutely no aspirations for college or writing or sports or anything. My world was just that small that I had no clue what it had to offer me or what I could possibly offer it. But in the pages of that book I found 5 black female siblings who overcame poverty and went on to be M.D.’s. I saw myself in them and realized I didn’t have to fit into a stereotype. That’s the kind of memoir I want to write. One in which you can find the common ills of humanity weaved within the threads of my story.
About 2003-ish I began working on the memoir of my crazy life growing up in inner city Detroit. On December 25, 2005 my laptop was stolen. I had no back up. Merry Christmas. So. I wiped my tears and started over. Over the last 7 years I’ve worked hard on it, sometimes lazily plugging away, sometimes so aggressively it’s all I could think -or read- about.
But something clicked in me in the last few years. It went from a dream I’d try and pursue to a dream I’d do no matter what. I created a blog accountability page because I knew support and community would be key. Somehow, the stars aligned and I was given two free tickets to NYC and friends & families members chipped in money for me to attend the Blogher’s Writer’s Conference hosted by The Penguin Group where I learned a booty-load of useful information. Earlier this year, I took Gotham’s Online Writer’s Workshop for Memoir. I’ve read a backpack full of books on writing & I invested in Danielle LaPorte’s - Your Big Beautiful Book Plan to further help me on my journey. In other words I’ve taken a long, purposefully slow, strategic journey towards being published.
Last year, I gave myself the goal of a 100,000 word rough draft done by my 35th birthday, December 30, 2011. And I did. (Happy Birthday to me)! This year I gave myself the goal of a 70,000 word final draft due by my 36th birthday, December 30, 2012.
7 weeks away. Like, seriously I’m in shock.
I’ve been very content to make modest goals one year at a time. We all know this, but writing a good book takes time. I’ve never wanted to force a mediocre story out into the world. I’ve wanted to write something worthy of being UNtrendy. In other words, a classic. A timeless story of hope and redemption. That’s all I ask. Is that too much?
I was majorly inspired by Daves Cullen’s (no relation to Edward, Bella or Renesme) Columbine book which he famously took 10 years to write. He wanted the story to develop fully especially the outcome of the survivors of that ridiculously sad day. It worked. His NY Times best-selling book won 22 awards & has landed him on every major network on t.v.
It’s been important for me too, to watch my story develop, to see myself survive the elements of my childhood which even now still causes me problems. It’s frustrating to admit but I’m glad my book has taken this long. I’ve been too young, too inexperienced, too ignorant, too caught, too depressed, to maligned, too stuck to finish it before now. But recently, I have this stronger sense of urgency. I’ve gotten my 30th affirmation like this.
So. Here’s the plan. I have a new bloggy friend, Elora (teacher, blogger & Author of: Come Alive) who is willing to help people create and craft their book in an hr. long pay-as-much-as-you-can format. She has more Story-Coaching sessions available if you too have a story to mine or a project you need to git’r’done. In combination with Elora’s help, I’m dedicating 4 business days, or app. 32 hours, 28 if I take a lunch break, 26 if we include the time I’ll waste getting distracted on facebook. 25, if we include bathroom breaks. In any case, I’m going to have between 24-32 hours spread over a 4-day span to take my book from rough draft to very nearly query worthy(!!!!!!!!)
I have 4 vacation days that I had to take before the New Year and I began to cook up ways I could use those days strategically. Having these 4 days available to me feels like I’m in the last stage of labor, that I’m 10 cm dilated and the baby’s head it almost out! All there is for me to do is reach down and pull that baby on out like Kourtney Kardashian did.
Or…something like that.
I’ll be working, 9:30am -5:30pm, December 4-7. I hereby promise not to blog, but to update you via twitter or my fb page on how my progress is going. If you see me farting around on facebook or you know, crying in the corner of a Starbucks give me a hug and tell me affectionately to get back to work.
Here’s to Detroit’s Daughter. May 2013 bring an agent, a reputable publishing house & a book deal!
*I made this image a few years ago to help me dream of what could be. I’m pretty sure that now I’ll use my real last name and I’ll pitch the book as a memoir of hope as opposed to a memoir of the city.*
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