I wonder how many procrastinators got around to reading this book?

I’ve meant to write this post for weeks, I just haven’t gotten around to it. The same can be said for my memoir. Remember my memoir? I was supposed to ratchet down my blogging so I could work on pulling together the memoir I’ve been writing for, oh, about 11 years.

I’ve made some progress on it.

  1. I’ve changed the title about 37 times and I’m really close to changing it again.
  2. I’ve shuffled the first several chapters about as many times as a Black Jack Dealer on a particularly busy Saturday afternoon at Senior Day’s at the Casino.
  3. I’ve decided on a unifying theme for the 13th time. This one feel like a winner…for now.

Then I stalled, what with making my Kentucky Derby hat, making  Scrappy home-baked biscuits, clipping coupons I will never redeem, and watching smartly written old TV series on Netflix. I know why retired people say they don’t know when they ever had time to work.

When did I ever have time to help those nice people in lab coat with all their experiments while I was cooped up in a cage? I’m just so busy now catching up on, well, life.

As I was alphabetizing my collection of motivational writing books, I came across several dealing specifically with how to turn memories into a memoir. I really don’t like it when signs from  Somewhere hit me over the head. I know what you’re thinking: there are no such things as signs. Maybe not in your experience, but I wouldn’t want to get in a car with you. In my life, signs are all around me. This was a sign. I could’ve ignored it; but, again, based on my vast experience at ignoring signs, they don’t leave you alone.

See what I mean?

So I pulled a book and started reading. As long as I was reading, I wasn’t writing, so I was right on track. But what I read wasn’t good. If I want my memoir to be any good (and by “any good” I mean people will read it, talk it up to their friends in Hollywood, and have it turn into a major motion picture with [insert A-list cougar actress of your choice] playing me), I must develop a “plot arc.” As if my life wasn’t complicated enough, now I have to figure out how to plot an arc. I suck at…don’t enjoy geometry.

Not having any literary or math geniuses milling around my bedroom…living room waiting for me to ask them a seductive… scintillating question about arc plotting a story that’s true enough about as much of my life as is interesting…I remember, I did what any self-respecting, lonely woman would do: I turned to the Internet. SCORE! I found tons of sites specifically designed to help writers get better at writing. Most of them wanted me to buy a book, course, or call a 1-900 number and ask for the service “Arc You my Type?”

Yes. our collective, ahem,company knows a great deal about plotting and arcs. We have just the protocol, ahem, product for you. If you sell your soul, ahem, buy our program now, we will guarantee world domination, ahem, 100% satisfaction and a complete manuscript–not necessarily related.

But I found one site that boasted revealing (for free) advice on writing from actual writers (by “actual writers” I mean people who have sold books). With a title like: The Best Advice on Writing: Ten Writers Recall the Best Advice They Ever Received, how could I go wrong? Unless they forgot the really great stuff and only told the reporter the advice they could remember. Hey, what could it hurt?

In case you can’t be bothered to click on the link I so thoughtfully provided, I’m going to share with you the 10 writers and the best piece of advice each had for me–or the best one they could remember at the time.

  1. Maureen Boyd Biro (children’s book author) loves Anne Lamott’s suggestion to “write one inch at a time.” Huh? I though size only mattered to men. Maybe she was referring to a story about inchworms, which aren’t central to my memoir.
  2. Dominick Dunne (a journalist) says to “finish your first draft.” Duh! That’s what I’ve tried to do. Dominick, there’s a reason you write articles and not books.
  3. Eileen Gunn (science-fiction writer) tells me to “get over it.” What? Are we in High school? I’m so over bell bottoms and tube tops. Does that count?
  4. Scott Adams (Dilbert Blog) offers the advice: “simplify.” Okay, but how do I apply this to my, how should I put this, complexicated life? Maybe if I was a cartoon character living in a thought-bubble world, my life wouldn’t seem so convoluticated.
  5. Ralph Wahlstrom (The Tao of Writing) suggests “murder your darlings.” Oh, come on. A peace-loving Taoist suggests murder? As an equally peace-loving Buddhist, I must meditate on this. Okay. (I’m an efficient medicator…meditator.) Ralph, Darling, surely you meant “massage your darlings.” Typos happen to the best of us.
  6. Thomas Powers (Pulitzer Prize winner or something) says to “lead with your best.” Honey, my best is all I’ve got. Is that all you’ve got?
  7. Cynthia Ozick (novelist and essayist) tells me to “write with authority.” Sure! Which authorities might you suggest help me write a winning memoir and not make me sell my body for sex not science…go bankrupt to pay them?
  8. Les Edgerton (author and teacher) offers “stand out as a real person.” Very wise. I know people who stood out at as fake people. Most were cardboard and ended up in tourists traps. Very sad.
  9. John Knowles (novelist) suggests “remember to play.” John, playing is why my memoir is stuck.
  10. Peter S. Beagle (novelist, short story writer, and man with funny name) reminds me to “show up for work.” Um. I’m retired. I understand most writers get their manuscripts done at their “real jobs,” but I don’t have that luxury. I have  all the distractions of being at home…alone…all day, every day. It’s grueling and unforgiving. Peter, step out of your Ivory Tower and start living in the real world.

Because I’m psychic…astute, I know these are, indeed, wise words for writers. I’m just being silly-ole-me and wanted to let you know I’m still the zany blogger you have come to know and … [fill in your favorite emotion as it relates to me].

Excuse me. I’m late for my weekly typing class. Editing is easier if my first draft is typo-free. No! I’m not procrastinating.