My memoir writing has stalled this week in spite of my January 1st resolutions. When I look back at myself in high school, I see one turning point that I can perhaps finesse into a story. Other events occurred outside of school and are not in the yearbooks; jobs I held, family events, social interactions all influenced me. School life dominated during those years and I only have one story. Maybe this exercise was a waste of time? I seem to have doubts now in spite of my determination to continue writing.
Last Saturday I attended a master class workshop at the Richmond Hill library with Barry Dempster. That’s when the questioning crept in. We were asked to bring 1 page from our current project. I brought my opening page (rough 1st draft) from my memoir to a group of strangers. We broke into small groups, read and gave feedback to each other. Parts that I thought were clear were questioned. Parts that had even been published were questioned. Gone was the gentle nurturing of my Writers Group, with negatives cradled in positives. This was the reaction of the anonymous ‘reader’ who just picks up your book and flips through, reading the first page in order to decide whether to buy it. I’m still feeling wounded from that experience. I knew what I meant. It just didn’t come across clearly to them. I thought I was ‘showing’, they thought I was ‘telling’. I know in my head that good writing is 90% rewriting, but negative feedback hurts, the way criticism of our children hurts. We take it personally.
I know what I have to do. Take their comments into account. Revise. But only after I finish my first draft. So, butt back in the chair. Return to my agenda for my book. Put the comments into perspective. There were some positives though I forget what they were right now. Just get on with it, Ruth!