Last night, at approximately 9pm Eastern time, I finished reading my memoir aloud to myself.
And I was in tears.
I’d decided not hire a proofreader, but to do the job myself this time, for draft #7, by reading it aloud to catch spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. I read my book as if I were a reader of it, not the writer.
It was a surreal experience, feeling so distant from my own narrative, but appreciating my book for the art that it is. I found a ton of typos, so on a practical level it was a helpful exercise. But on a larger one, I realized that the writing was better than I thought it was.
The thing that made me cry was the chapter in which the protagonist (yes, it’s me, but stay with me) went to see her father for the last time before he died. I’d spent time with this character, and felt her resolve and distance when she went to see him. I was so intensely sad for her, that she and her father would never have the kind of relationship she wanted, the kind she saw on TV sitcoms as a child.
I broke my own heart.
Which is all an author can ask for, really.
The next step is for me to actually enter the edits I made (I read a hard copy—300 glorious pieces of paper, because I don’t usually two-side print writing since flipping pages can be distracting and confusing). And then, I will send this baby off to the couple of agents who have reached out to me recently. Which is fantastic! But I’m tempering my expectations.
While it’s with those agents, I’ll work on my proposal. I’d hoped I wouldn’t need one for a memoir, but since I probably will, I’ve written one and I’ll work on editing it. I might also work on a query letter, in case the agents I send the manuscript to aren’t interested and I have to send it out elsewhere. But otherwise…
I’m done with my memoir.
I mean, I’m sure I’ll have several rounds of revisions to go with an agent and editor, but still—I’ve taken this puppy as far as I could take it on my own. I am workshopping it no more. It’s a grownup now, and it needs its own form of therapy.
I could not be happier to be done with this. I’m looking forward to working on shorter projects, essays and short stories. I’m aiming to do a collection of stories, which, while it is a book, is different from a long-form narrative, and I’m seeking that level of relief that I’d get from short bursts of writing.
I hardly know what to do with myself.
I’m just so glad to be done.
PSA: I’m raising money for VONA this month! If you have any love for writers of color, please consider donating! http://vonavoices.org/campaigns/give-to-vona-2019/