It’s been an incredible journey to write down my experience with schizophrenia and sort through my imperfect thoughts. After writing about it on and off for about 5 years or maybe longer, at the most, I had about 65,000 words. I googled “how many words in a memoir” and found out that I just barely made it.
My first editor Ben took off about 20,000 words while I was still trying to decide on an ending. He went through a few passes. I felt uncomfortable every time he crossed off a huge section of my writing. There went the word count. Of course, he was mostly right. “Why are you telling me this here?” After he was done, about a year ago, I submitted the query letter for my memoir to 31 agents. No one was interested.
I picked myself up from the handful of responses and rejections and started rewriting again. I came up with an ending, changed it, and changed it again. The writing could always be better. My second editor Beth is now about two-third way through. She is making great progress, changed orders, clarified what I wanted to say, took more stuff out. Now I am at about 50,000 words and don’t care about it so much.
I realize I can write and edit forever. I have logged at least 10 passes through this memoir. I have worked with two editors of different styles and focuses on length. With a third or fourth editor, she will find something else to rewrite and edit. The writing will never be perfect. The writing is not meant to make everyone happy. What I do know is that I am very good with it now.
I have been experimenting with kindle direct publishing (KDP). I have gone through almost the whole process and found it pretty doable by myself. Gone is the thought that I want someone to endorse and publish my memoir. If no one is interested in even taking a peek, I can self-publish. (This is the benefit of working in technology!)
I have written all I wanted to say. At this point, my goal for publishing is closure for myself. I have done what I can. It’s time to “put this to bed.” I would like to complete my first writing project and self-publish on Amazon by the end of this year. I am happy that I have gone this far with it. For a bonus, if I can reach even one person with my story, with one download, that would be fantastic!
I am relieved at finishing my first memoir about schizophrenia. There are still many steps before it goes into the world. But at least for now, my writing part is done. Schizophrenia had been a topic occupying my writing mind often when I sat in front of my laptop, even though during my day to day life, I have been quite removed from any schizophrenic symptoms these days. (Knock on wood!) Now I have some white space for something new.
In the last few days, I have been trying to come up with an idea for a second writing project. At first, I thought it might be fun to write about dating, including online dating and being match-made. I have my recent experiences to draw from. Some of them were funny! But as I tried to start, I was a bit stuck. How much do I really know? Is it really even that interesting? Do I know anything that anyone else does not? I found myself changing my mind. Should I write another memoir or start a fictional story? Do I really know how to write a romantic novel? Then, as I was washing dishes, I had a new idea. How about an ambitious woman working in high tech? I had not seen any interesting books on this. Oh, what about combining them? Would you read about a woman working in high tech and does online dating?
Still feeling fairly goalless, directionless, and stuck, I decided to get back to the basics. It’s time to start having a daily writing goal. That was how I got started with my first writing project. Every day, at the same time, I sat down and wrote whatever was in my mind. I remembered the advice that I read about: Just write. Aim for quantity and not quality. Fill up a notebook. It’s okay to have a shitty first draft. Get in the habit of writing! (I guess reading endless books on writing paid off!)
Let’s do this!