Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Making 2011 the Year for Memoir Preservation

Amidst the typical items on our New Year's resolution lists (usually related to getting more exercise, losing weight, toning those sagging muscles, pitching the donuts and making more nutritious choices for our meals and snacks, and vowing to stay in touch with friends and relatives) think about adding just one more. Why not make a commitment to creating blocks of time to work on preserving your life stories, as well as those of your parents, if possible? If it is too late to interview those family members who have passed on, write about your memories of them and then move on to your own stories. It is up to you to be certain that their history--and your own--live on. Resolve to take a life writing class, read a memoir writing book, or download a memoir preservation e-book, and allow yourself some quiet time to remember. Our stories are permanently lost if we don't make a conscious decision to capture them.

I was recently writing an article for the January, 2011 issue of Transitions, a monthly Grand Strand publication for seniors, and recalled that my dad's sister, Ruth, many years ago had used an old manual typewriter and had written about any pieces of information that she had been able to sketch together regarding our ancestors, as well as some family stories that were current at the time of her writing in January, 1983. I love reading what she entitled "Memory Excerpts of the Levi Greene Family", in which she announces that my great-grandfather was a shoemaker. It helps to be aware of these details, because now I understand why I have such an addiction to shoes!

My own mom recently told me that as a young woman, one of the jobs that she held involved working in the Shoe Department at Belk! Okay, that explains everything. I was doomed from the womb to be a collector of footwear. It's not my fault, honey.

My point is that if Aunt Ruth hadn't felt the urge to preserve family history, I wouldn't have a clue about these people. And the very same applies to you and your own loved ones. Write what you know, the stories you were told, and what you are able to find out from other relatives before your family history becomes extinct. Let 2011 be the year that you become pro-active and determined to leave a written legacy. You may just find that you actually enjoy the process!!

There seems to have been a bit of a holiday lull in the reading of the synopsis and first fifty pages of my manuscript by the agent to whom these items were sent. I have to be careful not to use this blog to vent my frustration related to the length of time that authors must wait to hear the news about whether they move on and try another agent or whether the one they have queried and sent the requested portion of their project to actually has any interest. I realize that they are totally inundated with queries and manuscripts, and they are entitled to enjoy the holidays just like everyone else. It's just unfortunate that our projects have to hang in limbo for such a long period of time.

At one point, I believed in seeking one agent at a time. Some state that they don't appreciate simultaneous submissions--they want to be the only one looking at your material at one time. I decided today that I'll search through the Writer's Market, a wonderful guide that supplies information on agents and publishers, and send my query to a few agents who do not object to simultaneous submissions and see if we can get some action going for Never Say Perfect! I consider myself to be a reasonably patient person, but these wheels turn so slowly. No wonder so many people jump straight to self-publishing in this age. We are told that most publishers don't want to see our work unless we have an agent. In reading the submission requirements on the websites of various agents, I'm seeing a trend now where several are becoming selective about who can even query them! Others are stating that they won't accept any queries for the next two or three months. It's an interesting ball game. But, even with that said, I don't intend to let this stop me. I just hope I'm not using a walker and unable to recognize my grandchildren by the time Never Say Perfect is in a book store.

"Oh, silly," you say. "Just put it out as an e-book on Kindle or Nook, etc. That's the present and future for reading." I know..I know. I own a Nook and LOVE it. But as long as there are still print books and physical book stores where people can walk in and admire an actual cover, I'd surely love to see Never Say Perfect residing there for a time. So I will continue to put forth the effort. Self-publishing Eyelash was an incredible educational experience for me, and really gratifying. But the difficulty is in marketing and distribution your own book. The experts say to use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Okay, I use Facebook occasionally, but not regularly because I don't have time to read what my friends are cooking for dinner. I haven't tried Twitter yet because I'm afraid that it will become an obsession, and I don't have time for that either. I am on LinkedIn and have joined some pertinent groups, but I'll have to see how that works out. I believe that marketing/promotion of a book can be a full time job if done properly. Not enough hours in my day! But I promise to keep you posted on how the publishing quest for Never Say Perfect progresses.

A book signing in 2009
After all of that carrying on about the publishing process, I think it would only be appropriate for me to switch to the inspiration segment of my blog. A former resident of the Grand Strand, someone who attended my workshops-Writing Your Treasured Memories AND Writing Your Christian Spiritual Journey, as well as a friend and fellow writer, Donna Weaver, has started a new blog at www.peace2sparkle.blogspot.com. You'll enjoy following her blog for a dose of inspiration and uplifting joy. She and I share a penchant for having a million irons in the fire and yet desiring to be a servant of God at the same time. Check it out!

In my crazy schedule where I could easily be at this computer 24/7, Psalm 62:1-2 reminds me:
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

I'll be back.....

1 comment:

  1. Mary Anne...

    I've been thinking alot lately about preserving family memories. I've started writing short stories of my own as they come to mind, but since I've moved to CO, I realize that mom isn't close by anymore to fill in family details. I need to get her stories in writing and have been working on a plan. Will let you know how it works as the plan unfolds.

    Praying that you will receive good news soon on "Never Say Perfect." It's a little selfish on my part, because I can't wait to read it!

    Thanks for the "PR".... glad you are enjoying the blog. It's defintely time consuming, but I find myself doing so much personal reflection as I am writing my posts, that I know God is at work in me and through me. LIFE LIST was fun to compile... would love to know which items we had in common.

    Keep in touch and stay warm!
    God's Peace, Donna