Ten Years is Okay
Contributor
Written by
Nancy Chadwick
September 2015
Writing
Contributor
Written by
Nancy Chadwick
September 2015
Writing

I have been working on my memoir for at least ten years. Actually, longer than that considering I sent my first draft to a professional editor in 2005.

I deemed it ready for a professional read after wearing out the “spelling and grammar” button and knowing there was nothing left in me to express what I hadn’t already done in my compilation of an abundant 80,000 words. So I tidily clipped the paper stack and sent it forth.

A few weeks later, I received his thorough critique. His reported words were truly kind and gentle. I thank him for having mercy on my virgin memoir writing soul.

Fast forward to this year’s near-end, 2015, several drafts later. I think about what I said in my first draft and I wonder how alike or opposing my current manuscript is to it. So I decide to pull out the first manuscript, stopping occasionally to read a few scenes and narrative reflections. One thing that was obvious? I had no business wasting the time of a professional. I was embarrassed to have shown my memoir writing that was more enumerations with journal-like entries than my life in story. What was more wrong than right with my writing was most blatant.

 And then I page through my current draft where I see good, slippery threads weaving in and out of chapters. My story has taken shape since its birth years ago. I can see the uphill struggle, the top of the crest and then the lessons learned. My story has been molded, massaged, edited, parts deleted, more added, all in defense of finding my core, the real substance and nitty-gritty – the takeaways.

After 10 years and many drafts, some details have faded, some have dropped off the page, but the takeaways have become clearer. My reflections and universal truths are turning into a message, finding the sweet middle in unfolding of pages, the hard candy inside a soft tootsie roll.

I can be neither ashamed nor embarrassed of my first draft. I needed to start somewhere. I needed to get it all down on paper, the details, the emotion, the facts, the tragedy and overcoming adversity. I needed to spend the years, to peel away the superfluous, in support of my best writing.

Today, I continue to develop my memoir through practice and continued writing, until the day comes when my story reflects a bounty of my writing, my story, ready to share, and not because I have nothing left to say and I have worn out the “spelling and grammar” button. 

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Comments
  • Mary Ellen Latela

    Nancy, this is such good news! You have grown in your writing. Your critical skills are sharper. No need for regrets... you are moving ahead and your goal will be reached. Gosh, you have taught yourself so much! Best Wishes! Mary Ellen