Now that I’ve sent off those first chapters of My Mother’s Money to the interested agent (at least she was interested before she saw the manuscript), I wonder if I could have made it better, stronger, more lyrical and compelling.
Probably. But writing, revising, rewriting, editing, proofing, and reviewing—even with the help of my saintly friend, Elyse, an editor who took her task quite seriously—were exhausting. I’m not sure why; I’ve written tons of business and creative items in the past, and they were a breeze.
But after finishing those first memoir chapters, my head hurt, and my neck and shoulders ached. Maybe it was the requirement that I revisit my childhood to describe how money was viewed and handled in my family.
Perhaps it was the job of trying to be fair to the characters in the memoir—to present rounded portraits of them so they don’t come out looking like lunatics.
But probably it was just the effort of integrating all that I know about creative writing—and that I teach my writing students. Show, don’t tell. Engage your reader. Use interesting words. Mix up long and short sentences. Appeal to all the reader’s senses. Present evidence. Convey a mood. Pin down your characters in sharp dialog.
Of course I wished I’d had another two months or so to make the chapters better, but if they at least grab the agent’s attention and interest, I’ll be satisfied, even if she decides not to represent the book.
Pamela Jane says
Hi, Lynette. I’m a children’s author (pamelajane.com) and I just finished a memoir after a mere–20 years! It was important to write it, then important to revise and polish and finally to write a proposal and a query letter. I wrote about maybe not having the synopsis gene in my last livejournal entry. I’d like to hear more about your memoir.
Hi Pamela Jane. Have you submitted your memoir to agents/publishers yet? (I’m going to take a look at your blog, esp the post about the synopsis gene! I’m sure I’ll relate.)
BTW: Here’s a neat blog I just found. Hope it helps. http://bit.ly/dkyQVl
I’m revising the first chapters of My Mother’s Money, after the agent considering it rejected it. I’m not surprised. It was a bit rushed & not my best writing. Anyhow, another agent’s interested. But I’ve resumed work on the memoir (expose?) that engages me more: about being a college administrator. Such drama.
P.S. I just started reading your blog and I LOVE it!