I hit 40,301 words into NaNoWriMo and my memoir Sunday evening. The plan is to hit 50,000 by Friday or Saturday and the full 79,000 – my own goal – by December 11th, my birthday. I write between 1400 and 2000 words a day, so I am confident.
I also made the decision to supplement the story-telling aspect with actual emails between Rob and I and IM sessions too. I mined old posts from the babycenter group and the soap opera message board I was a part of through the bulk of Will’s illness up through widowhood as a means of dating and clarifying events. I have been re-reading a lot of my own history in my own words and it has been, uh, interesting, looking back at who I was and how I got here.
There is going to be some rewriting. Early in the memoir I tried to be vague about people and events, especially with in-laws and the widow board, but as I wrote I realized that I can’t make sense of the storyline if I leave things out to spare myself and others embarrassment. I am reminded again of the advice I received on writing this memoir in the first place,
“Tell the story, big and messy.”
So, the incident with Rob’s widow board stalker is in. Fortunately she is no longer a reader of my blog. I think once I left the widow board most of the people there stopped reading and forgot all about me. And I wrote, though not in graphic detail, about my horrific attempts with dating prior to Rob. No real names naturally; it is good thing that I was already in the habit of nicknaming men. I haven’t known a single man who was nameable and the great thing about the Internet is that people conveniently re-christen themselves or are so predictable that their new names jump right off the screen at you.
For example, Rob’s stalker had the cutesy-poo habit of “decorating” her posts with flash graphics of the hearts, flowers and fluffy animals genre. We called her The Hallmark Lady for a long time, although she’s recently been downgraded to Mullet Woman. My fault totally and I should be ashamed.
Most nicknames are pedestrian, however, and denote occupation or a physical characteristic of equally mundane origin. I don’t spend too much time bestowing monikers, but for purposes of telling a tiny portion of my life’s journey, I guess it’s a good thing I have bothered even a little.
I am also pretty honest about the mother-in-law but without being mean – at least I hope I am not coming off as vindictive. I feel more sorry for Will’s mother than anything else. But it’s hard for me to illustrate just what why I reacted to some things the way that I did without using examples and, even in a memoir, ya gotta show at least as much as you tell. MIL is not someone I would ever have chosen to share a stage with but she is a cast member who has to be acknowledged.
Rob raised an eyebrow – both actually – when I told him I was using our correspondence.
“All of it?”
“Well, no. Some stuff is private.”
The look I got was indicting, and rightfully so, because I have a long track record of indiscretion where writing about my life is concerned. Needless to say, Rob gets to read the manuscript before anyone else, and I doubt I will be looking for other beta reads before February anyway. But I really want a good, shoppable draft done by April 1st, so I will need to find additional readers other than my husband.
November to April is a good six months from start to finish. I would give myself longer with a fiction novel but my life is really already written up to the current day, so I can’t say that more time would make it more interesting. It is what it is.