About this Blog

About this Blog: Divorce is something you do, not something you are. It is not easy, but it can be funny. I know hanging on to my humor gave me hope and courage. Divorce shouldn't cramp your style. There are whole industries devoted to helping brides plan their weddings -- why shouldn't we have a style guide for divorce?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanks, but I don't need any more Material!

For my memoir, that is.

It's November, and it's National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo (nan-o-ree-mo for those of you in the Midwest, and Naah-Noe-Rhy-Mo, perhaps, if you are in another part of the country, or Canada, except for Montreal*)

* If you live in Quebec, you are not allowed to enter the New Yorker cartoon caption contest, for reasons unknown to me.  Is it because you might write your entry in French?  What if you promise to enter an english language only caption?  Is humor really different up there in French Canada?

So anyway, I began anew a book called The Style Guide to Divorce.  I used some of the material I had pulled together for the actual "Style Guide" as a guide.  But then since the goal of NaNoWriMo is 50,000 fresh words, I had to create an actual new novel with that title out of previously unwritten words.

And so I began as if I were a character editor from the guide, but living her post-marital life and then getting inspired to write a guide for other people.  It was fairly meta, at first, and I couldn't figure out which was the real-time me, the character in the novel, or the character inside the character, the one that "Katie" would create to be a fictional editor of the guide.  But you have to keep writing whether you know the answer to that or not, and so I kept writing.  Eventually I ran through all the sections from the guide that I'd previously pulled together - spirituality, exercise, fashion, diet and re-invented the copy as an episode in "Katie's" life.  Pretty soon Katie was in therapy, talking through a lot of the information with her therapist, "Justine" and with her sassy friend "Shirley," and of course butting heads with her daughter "Zoey."

That pretty much got me into Week 2, when I stared at the computer screen and ate a lot of brownies that I kept jumping up to bake when I couldn't handle that I didn't have any literary ideas to write down.  But then I had to come up with more new material, and then more after that.  And I had no "new" material, I just had all the stuff in my head about things that had happened to me.  Up until now, I thought they were boring and pathetic.  Now, they were a way to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month.

Funny, when I posted the initial description of my novel on the NaNoWriMo website, I called it a memoir.  Now I am trying it on for size, seeing if I can put down these various episodes without falling off a steep literary cliff into nothingness.

Now that I am into Week 3, and more than 30,000 words, I am encouraged.  And again, please folks, I don't need any more material.  I have enough trials and tribulations in my adult life to make up the remaining 20,000 words in the month, and even if I'm a little short, I've got a few doozies in my childhood that will fill in the gaps.  So please folks, here are a few tips.

My memoir attempts to lay out in a meaningful way about my personal challenges, the ones leading me to go to law school at the end of a marriage, then return to the same small town with the degree.  As you might imagine, things didn't all fall nicely back in place.  They got more complicated.

I've got people coming up to me saying "what are you doing here" - as if they'd have rather I'd not returned.  I've got people introducing me to others as "she used to be married to . . . . " even though I think there's probably a dozen nice ways to describe me without highlighting that."  I've had people just cut me out of plans, and conversations - which is a total sandbox ploy from grade school.  Enough folks, I've got enough material.  I don't need anymore.

Please stay tuned tho, for my NaNoWriMo progress.  In the middle of Week 2, I thought about not finishing, but now I'm interested to see what happens to my characters at the end of the novel, and perhaps even get a few readers.

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