Mentor Texts and How I Finished the Memoir
In writing my memoir, God, the Devil, and Divorce, I encountered many road blocks. Parts 1 and 2 tell of the beginning and middle of my journey. This final part tells of how I finally reached my goal of finishing.
Reading craft books can get old, so I decided to study well-received divorce memoirs. They became my “mentor texts.” I made a list of elements to study in each: structure, self-reflection, back story, and character development. I identified back story and self-reflection as my biggest challenges, so paid particular attention to how other memoirists handled those.
I began looking for a professional editor.
After another major rewrite, I began looking for a different professional editor. I read a post that suggested a writer could ask for a sample edit before deciding if the editor would be a good fit. I did just that and found someone wonderful. She gave me as many “at-a-girls” as suggestions for improvement. Of course, this called for another revision.
I’ve finally “finished” the 60,000 word memoir. What now? Since I want my memoir published by a traditional publisher, now would seem to be a time to look for an agent. I’ve learned there are three major elements that attract an agent and/or publisher: a good concept and title, a well-written manuscript, and a substantial email list. Why an email list you may ask. These days, publishers don’t like to take risks on unknown authors, particularly memoir authors. An email list shows the publisher there is an audience for the writer’s work. Most email lists these days are built by subscriptions to the writer’s blog. Before I begin to look for an agent who will then begin to look for a publisher, I need to be attracting for subscribers for my blog.
Finding blog subscribers means I need compelling content.
Finding subscribers means I need compelling content. Since I feel called to contribute to the conversation among Christians about how God views divorce, the blog is a natural vehicle for conversation on this topic. I’m inviting Christians to contribute their own stories of judgement or support from their churches while going through a divorce. I also discuss healthy ways of recovering from divorce. As word gets out, my email list will naturally grow.
Does all this mean I’m done with revisions?
Not at all. Once I find an agent, he or she will likely suggest some revision. And once that agent finds a publisher, in all likelihood, I will be asked for a final revision. Only then, when my book is on its way to the printer, will I be finished with revisions.
Just so you know, not all memoirs have to be as tough to write as mine. If you feel to compelled to write your own, I say, go for it!