I’m either insanely persistent, completely crazy, or everything in between, because today I went back to the drawing board to analyse my memoir. You remember that book I’ve been talking about for the past six years? The one I’ve written five times already? Yeah, that one. It’s back in my life. I’m determined this is the final time I go through it though because as much as I love the PCT and cherish my trail experience, I need to move on from this god-damn manuscript.
The funny thing is, it took deciding to let the memoir go once and for all to reignite my passion for it. I’d finally made the decision the book had run its course and that I’d learned all I needed to through the writing experience. I even held a small ceremony to say goodbye, which I filmed a couple of months ago. (The preview is upside-down but the video is not.)
Then, after sifting through the emails I’d sent myself with notes and ideas, I came across a draft of the ‘Author’s Note’ I had written more recently. I was shocked to discover the writing was actually good, dare I say pleasing to read, and it made me rethink all the other ‘well written’ parts of the memoir I was about to throw away. (Apologies for all the cuss words in this video…)
The crazy thing was I felt immediately energised and motivated to write again. I later decided that instead of writing the book as a memoir, I would just write excerpts from the trail that connected parts of the story together. But I’ve since realised I’ll never be satisfied if I don’t write this as the memoir I set out to write, so here I am again, six years later, back at the drawing board.
During all these years I planned to buy sticky notes and complete the exercise of planning before starting to write, and for six years I just dove straight into the business of writing and prayed the story would come together by itself. I did a pretty good job considering my naivety. But after having had a year away from it, and a year of growth in-between, I can now see all the pieces that are missing. Basically everything Betsy, the editor I paid in New York, pointed out so clearly last year was correct. It’s just a shame I got knocked down so badly it’s taken me a year to recover.
Even though I know everything that’s wrong with the memoir, I still don’t have all the answers of how to ‘right’ it just yet. That’s where the sticky notes come in, the book Story Genius by Lisa Cron, the Story Grid podcast with Sean Coyne and Tim Grahl, The Creativity Campus created by my dear friend and author Chrissy, AND last but not least, my wonderful editor and friend Heske, who has walked this trail during every single draft beside me.
I wasn’t going to tell anyone I was writing another draft, and I’m not promising a finished product. But all of you have been on this journey from the beginning too, so like it or not, you’re coming with me. Perfectionism, people’s opinions, and generally saying the wrong thing has really stumped my writing these last few months. I’ve felt narcissistic even writing about myself when there is so much going on in the world and so much pain being suffered. But I’ve missed writing and connecting with my online community, so I’m glad to be back here again.