A memoir is tricky, and sometimes utterly foolish to release as a debut. However, friends near and far, acquaintances and those in my innermost circles have asked me for years of “my story” and it would be more foolish on my part not to give my first, core audience what they want and what I am capable of delivering.
Writing the manuscript was easy. Messy perhaps, with several questions that only I could answer, but pouring out the first draft, even when sticking to an outline, was cathartic.This is actually something encouraged by psychologists, called “narrative therapy.” Tell the story.
The challenge with memoir is that it is based on reality. Even when muddling details to protect the innocent players in a very true story, it requires examining what factors and events and how they impact the final outcome. The difference of memoir versus autobiography is the time frame and morality.
I started NORDISCO with a specific lesson, or moral, in mind. When I finished, I realized I was doing something else with it: exorcizing demons and healing trauma. That by the act of telling this story at all, that I am enabling others to do so, and encouraging others’ healing leading by example.
Silly me, how could I forget that facing trauma and writing it out in every gory detail (edited for consumption) means I’d have to re-live it, remember things I wanted to and actively forgot? This is ultimately a good thing, but it knocked me back on my ass for awhile.
Additionally, this book focuses heavily on relationships, especially through the lens of a disordered personality. Friends, lovers, family, and everything in-between. Some of those relationships are alive and well. Others have ended in many ways and some during the book’s production. When these changes happen, it’s difficult to fight the urge to return and tweak the manuscript just a little bit here and there, to demonstrate that this is a living story, one that is shaped heavily by my past but very much part of my present life.
But a memoir is just a moment in time, and I have had to sit on my hands and process the grief and trauma. Where I thought I was gently wading in a pond and enjoying the cool touch of water on my toes, allowing the ripples to hypnotize and calm me, I was really in over my head in an ocean’s squall.
I had to take some time. It took me a week or two to understand that’s what I was doing. I couldn’t understand why I was actively avoiding something I loved so much, doing literally every other thing I could do to put it off, to work on it later, making promises to lock myself away for three or four days to finish the revisions and first and second passes.
Finishing a memoir (probably not my first, either) means at some point, I have to let go and cast it out into the world. When I started the manuscript, I was absolutely and delightfully aware of that fact and eager to do so and move on with my life. But, then life happened in between, and I had to sit with it more, just a little longer, and reflect on everything I had just poured out. That the reality of this rather complex narrative therapy means that I will have to bid adieu to these secrets because they won’t be secrets anymore.
Then I awoke last Monday and the fog had lifted. It’s been pouring in California the past couple weeks, nature’s way of cleaning L.A.’s streets every year, washing it all away and letting us all start anew with one fresh breath before the smog and marine layers roll back in during tourist season.
I joined my local Y and rediscovered my eagerness to get both my bikers’ butt and sea legs back. I reset my sleeping schedule–I usually wake early but now it’s consistent and at the same time. I have opened the document and started the final process of this: acceptance.
And, when scouring the internet for songs that fit my mood and to boost my motivation, I came across “Dream” by Bishop Briggs. Something about its midtempo four-on-the-floor and Briggs’ soaring vocals stirred me, and I’ve listened to it dozens of times since it captured my attention.
Some research into Briggs’ inspiration for this song revealed that it’s “…about having fears and doing your best to embrace them no matter how strenuous the grip is.”
So. All of this to explain that NORDISCO release will be delayed. I’m in the throes of doing now what I should have been doing a month ago and making good progress, so the paperback should be ready in about that time, late March.