I’m glad I asked my two BFFs to read the rough draft of my memoir OTHER. I felt it had come to a natural end which is always a good thing because we writers sometimes have a hard time stopping. Still, it felt kind of unfinished so I sent it to two women whose opinions I respect. I also know they are not going to try to tell me what to do.
One felt it COULD sell as is but she herself as a reader wanted more – she wanted to feel more in tuned with what I (as a little girl felt). She felt I was still protecting myself subconsciously and telling the story as someone else rather than from herself. I think she is definitely on to something. No matter how much I say out loud even to my closest friends and even my own husband, there is much much more I keep to myself. It is less about being judged and more about not wanting to revisit that darkness. I wanted to just kind of give a more sterile version. Gently she provoked me into thinking about it deeper and I agree I will need to add more. It will hurt and it will make me sad but it needs to be done. I still don’t know if I will be able to connect with the general public reader, but I’m going for it anyway. If not now, when? Right? I did tell her that no one was going to get my mother’s story in this book, however. That is reserved for book #2 – MOTHER. The first book is more of an introduction and the story about immigrating to the US and how that felt for a kid of mixed race. I really appreciated her thoughtful constructive criticism though.
My other BFF felt that I needed more detail. I had let her read things in the past and she remembered an assignment I had where I had to use a lot of sensory detail. It is a lovely piece but that is all it is. While I got an A and there is a TON of detail which is good since it was so short, I do not have the stamina to keep that up in an entire book. I think she is correct that I’m not being as descriptive but I wanted my voice in this book to be as if I was telling someone I trust what I felt in any way that it came out. I didn’t want to be stilted by worrying about too many literary devices. Readers currently seem to want a more casual tone so that is what I’m betting on. However, I think when I add more to the story that may satisfy the details she may be feeling is lacking. She also said it was too short. So that is two people saying it is two short so I will be a busy bee over the next few weeks.
I’m very fortunate to have TWO great readers in my corner. I think after I take in their observations and make some tweaks I will be finished with the first book. I’m in disbelief that one of my lifelong dreams is about come into fruition. Even if I only sell 10 copies as long as one of those is purchased by a stranger, I will feel fulfilled. I have no pipe dreams of appearing on Oprah or become the darling of some big publishing company. I know people are wishing that for me and it is very sweet, but I truly want to just write my story and have it published. If it becomes financially successful that would be just icing on the cake. I will write my 3 memoirs and then some fiction eventually. I am thankful that our technology allows all of us small time writers to get a chance to see their work in “print”. How lucky are we?