Sunday, February 3, 2013

Birth of a Memoir: , Part 2, Gestation

If you read last week's post, you'll recall I decided to write a memoir about my husband's final year.  How would I do it?  Not a clue.  I'd written romance novels, but this wasn't a happily-ever-after tale.  Not even close.
I would need to learn new skills,

I searched the web and by great good fortune found Gotham Writers Workshop.  Not only could I learn about memoir writing but I could do it from home, sans makeup, wearing pajamas, barefoot, hair uncombed.  Perfect.

I signed up for Memoir I  and eventually II and III and began the long process of relating the triumphs and tragedies of our journey from diagnosis to death.

 Diagnosis:  "You have acute myelongenous leukemia.  The type you have is very difficult to cure.  The nurse will tell you about the clinical trial"--tone:  disinterested; manner, hurried.  When my daughter asked about standard treatment, the doctor's tone changed to angry.  "Go home.  Standard treatmemt is not what this hospital is about.  We are the largest leukemia center in the world.  Clinical trials are WHAT WE DO." 

Death:  I don't have to tell you about that.  Everyone's death is unique; yet every death is the same.  Hemingway said all true stories end in death. 

But back to the writing process.  It was long, arduous, often painful.  I wrote and rewote.  Finally the first draft was finished.  And then, crash.  As in computer crash.  The afternoon before Thanksgiving (Why do all such things happen around holidays?) I was merrily typing at my computer when it took its last breath (or whatever you call a machine's last gasp) and expired.  I cried and cried and wanted to kick myself becuase, of course, I didn't have a complete hard copy of the manuscript.  Outcome:  I met the nice computer guy who has fixed my glitches ever since.  This one, alas, could not be fixed.  So I told myself if I could rewrite one sentence, I could rewrite the entire manuscript.  And I did.  I also got an off-line back up service.  I have recently upgraded to the business/professional rate so I can talk to a real person in an emergency instead of a ghostly online specter.

And so, accompanied by my fellow memoirists, I finished the manscript.  If gestation was rough, what followed was brutal.  Next week:  Part 3, Labor.



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