. . . finding the time.
. . . saying it in a way no one has said it before.
. . . believing that your words are good enough.
. . . knowing when your words aren’t good enough and you need to revise.
. . . coming up with a title.
. . . organizing your manuscript.
While ALL of the above plague me, the last one in particular has been nagging at me since October. Back then I had a week of fall break and made a lot of headway in terms of word count. But I was not happy with the way my draft was organized. Though it’s a memoir, I didn’t want to just write everything out in chronological order because I thought it would be too boring, too this-is-how-everyone-does-it. Instead I wanted to find similar themes within my content and lump together all the content about each theme into a section or chapter. When I tried that, I was able to mesh together ONE chapter that made sense. My approach wasn’t working. But I was determined not to be like everyone else. I just didn’t know what other approach to take. So I abandoned trying to organize and just kept writing.
Since then, I’ve read several spiritual memoirs to see how they were laid out and I’ve found two that have given me a lot of inspiration and ideas. One is Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner, and the other is Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans. And surprise, surprise! Both are more or less organized chronologically. I found that both authors did weave back and forth in time a bit throughout their books, but the overall arc of both books is chronological.
(This shows you how much creative non-fiction, particularly memoir, echoes fiction writing. There’s some discussion about this in the writing world right now and I would love to talk about it more but I should probably save that for a different post.)
Now it’s spring break and I am supposed to be “finishing my book.” I have 53,000 words, which is enough to make a book, but I am still not done writing. I have more to say. (If you know me personally, you are not surprised by that. ) Well, both my kids are sick this week, so it does not look like I am going to completely finish it, but I FINALLY have an outline!!! And guess what? I went back to chronological organization. Yep. I caved. I got off my high horse and did it the way it seemed to work best. One day an editor may tell me how to organize it better, but for now there is an immense load off my shoulders and a greater clarity as to the direction the book is going. (I still need a title, though!)
Here are my sections (chapters, maybe?):
3. Learning Liturgy
5. Backward-Looking (or possibly Looking Backward, not sure)
6. An Imperfect Church
It feels really weird for me to be talking about this on the blog in such detail. It seems . . . real. I have no agent, no publisher, no contract, no guarantee whatsoever that this book will EVER be published. But gosh darn it I am determined to finish writing it even if it never gets published! It is real for me, and it is my story, and I am going to finish the work of telling it. Ahem, writing it.