my memoir

I am rewriting the beginning of the memoir. I think I mentioned that a while ago. The drafting went like a field afire after a summer drought, but despite the length (10,000 plus words) it was bones only. After letting Rob read it, I am fleshing it out. Slowly. Not that the words come slowly but the memories are far clearer than they have ever been and they compete viciously with the emotions that saturate them. The word count will easily have doubled by the time I am finished – next week sometime with luck – and then I have to meld it to the original.

I am excited about it. Really. Because it finally looks and sounds the way I have envisioned it all along. But, the scope sometimes pulls me up short. Feelings are going to be a bit raw when people read about incidents that went on that I never shared or when they discover my true feelings concerning events that involved them. I have wrestled with this from the moment I decided I would write about my experience and me and Rob. I still haven’t worked it out completely.

Memoir is a subjective form of storytelling. And it is the telling of a story. The story happens to be true, but it’s a limited viewpoint and one that is faulty unless the author happens to be omniscient and even the bible lacks the all knowing third person.

One thing I noticed as I have gone about the business of living these last six years is that nearly everyone I had contact with had no problem foisting their interpretation of circumstances on me and expecting me to agree with them regardless of the veracity, so I have decided to proceed and write it the way I recall it and show how I felt. It might not match up with others’ recollections. So be it. The beauty about memoir is that everyone has a life and they are welcome to write about it from their own point of view. As long as one isn’t trying to settle scores or be cruel, and recognizes that it may result in some “splaining”, memoir is a good way to maintain the tradition of personal/family oral histories that help us to know and understand one another.

Six years. It was six years this past summer. Even digging up the events that led to Will’s being diagnosed weren’t enough to bridge that span for me entirely. He is so long gone, and the person I was disappeared along with him. The interesting thing? I don’t miss her.

I don’t feel like meme’ng today and couldn’t find anything worth the effort of stealing for that purpose anyway. Today I want to hear from you, my gentle readers.

I am rewriting the first chapter of my memoir. I have the chance to pitch it to an agent who represents a friend of mine and I need at minimum the first three chapters written and polished. I am going to write some version of a recent post on Will’s last months in hospice. And I just want to say, I appreciate those of you who took the time to comment and offer your take on my disclosure dilemma.

Whenever I question writing and trying to publish the memoir, I hear from people who say “Write it. I want to read it.” but they never really say why or what it is they think I will be writing about that intrigues them sight unseen.

Rob is semi-busily composing his chapter in his head. His first months after Shelley died, I think. But as he pointed out, our lives have been intersected only a short time in comparison to the length of our lives overall and certainly our first marriages. What makes our story worth knowing? Worth the time it would take to read?

I remember a snarky comment – not here – that I read directed at Rob and I shortly after we married that went something like,

“I don’t need to hear about relationships and marriage from two people who’ve been widowed less than a year and been dating and then remarried for about a total of  two minutes.”

And though I think that sometimes “seat time”  is important, it does not necessarily make one an expert either. I have run across more than a few widowed people who believe that it is years out that gives when insight and the moral authority to speak to the generalities and larger truths of surviving a spouse, and yet some of the widows I most admire for their choices, compassion and wisdom aren’t even as far along in the journey as I am.

And anyway, my experience is atypical in terms of circumstances and the order in which I went through things, so I don’t see it as modeling for anyone.

At the conference I attended in May, I had a chance to sit with a publisher from South Africa and I quizzed her on the marketability of memoir. She said that from a personal standpoint the reason people read them baffled her. She found books on surviving tragedy more depressing than uplifting and a little bit voyeuristic, not in a good way. 

I suppose I have things to say in terms of dating after spouse loss, remarriage, family blending. I hesitate to get all “how to” though. I prefer the facts and how it played out personally with people taking or leaving it as they will.

So, here I ask again, what would you want to know – bearing in mind that I am as likely to really tell you as not – in terms of my memoir. Don’t be shy. But don’t be a snark either.

Some people go to conferences and workshops and take notes; I see blogging opportunities, so being me, I blogged the whole experience … on paper. I will treat you all to it when I get back from holiday. But only in parts! I really have a lot to do as I explained the other day and won’t be online much.


  • I am smarter than I realized.
  • I don’t like cities much.
  • People are far too quick to self-publish.
  • There are many professional writers who don’t know as much as they should about online promotion or social media.
  • I should have pitched the memoir already. IT’s NON-FIC!! Big “duh”.
  • I have a kick ass fiction query.
  • I need to polish a short piece to send to On Spec. I am sure now that if I pitch them the right thing, they will publish me.
  • I rock.

No packing is done the day before we leave as our per usual. We are outta here for a goodly amount of time and completely off-line, but there will be posts so look for them and comment if you feel inclined to entertain the others in my absence.

Love ya! Miss ya.