Sunday, December 08, 2013

Fate or Magic

Strange things happen. I call them fate. My friend, Debbie, calls them magic.

This last couple of years has been a torment. Each time I thought of forgetting about this crazy writing thing, something would happen. I’d receive a call from a publisher asking permission to use one of my stories in an anthology, or an email of congratulations would pop up in my inbox from a contest. Magically, this abolished all notions of quitting and was encouragement enough to put me in front of the computer, pounding out another story or researching new agents for my novels.

I’d written a series of short stories for a book about my nearly twenty years of experience in the retail lingerie trade. Mostly humorous stories but some were not so funny. Shoplifters could be funny, stalkers were not. One publisher considered the book for months but thought it might be challenging to market. I’d written it in third person point of view. At the time, that was a comfortable option.

After a ‘magic’ encounter with an award winning memoir author Iain Reid, I began to revise my book to first person POV. 42,000 words into the revision, my hard drive bit the dust. No, for some reason I did not save my work. I say ‘for some reason’ because I had saved other files but not this one. I told myself that the work was lost because it just wasn’t ‘right’. I had to take that attitude, or crumble under the depression of losing all that work. I promised myself that I’d tackle a new revision soon – just not yet.

Then, ‘magically’, a non-writer friend visited with a stack of writer’s books. I wrote about them in the last blog post, Unexpected Trove of Books. A couple of days later, I reached into the pile for Elizabeth Berg’s book, thinking I would read it first. When I settled into my chair, I realized that the book in my hands was not Berg’s but rather an Abigail Thomas book entitled, Thinking About Memoir. It was enough to make me snort out loud. Alrightalready, I said to no one, as I reached for a highlighter, fresh notebook, and pen.

With an open mind, I read each page while making copious notes as Thomas’s suggestions and ramblings triggered ideas and further memories. Thoughts of how better to revise my manuscript were taking shape. The book would be more effective as a memoir. Iain Reid, the author I met in Eden Mills,  had suggested as much during our conversation about my collection of stories. Slowly, the realization was growing that something important was missing in the re-telling of these incidental encounters.

Those eighteen years existing in a pink and blue world of maribou and satin, were my greatest and worst years. It was a high profile and productive time of my life, but not without a price. There were sorrowful personal challenges to overcome. If I can’t acknowledge my role by writing in first person POV, the book is nothing more than entertaining stories.

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