FROM THE ASHES

I fantasize about what it would be like to be interviewed once I am a famous writer. Last week, we were well into that dream interview. My first volume of memoirs has just been published and is doing well…

#dreaminterview #susanstrasser #susanstrasserblog #amwriting

SO, LAURIE, YOUR EDITOR, HAD VERSION 2, BUT WAS ALREADY NOT ENJOYING IT?

That’s correct.

OH, AFTER ALL YOUR SPREADSHEET ORGANIZATION! (both of us laughing)

(Laughter subsides) Yes, the “spreadsheet of my life” had not created an instantly perfect manuscript! Go figure. It was extremely discouraging. I had so much to learn. Always.

I mean, obviously, it was much better organized. I had written the Who, What, When, Why, Where and How for every “Life Event” like we’d decided, but that was just it: the book read like quick descriptions. She said that as the reader, she felt as if she was being rushed from one event to the next. Where was the narrative? How did I feel about being at my great grandparents home? What color were the walls in their kitchen where we cook? It was time for imagery and sensory detail, and I still had an embellished outline at this point.

OH, THAT MUST’VE BEEN DISCOURAGING.

It was. My ego took another hit. Version 2 was in the “ballpark,” but I still had to employ sensory language, describe my full personality, as well as my family and friends. Oh, and don’t forget key elements such as setting and dialogue!

SHE SAID ALL THAT?

Well, that was what it boiled down to as we went over Version 2 together, chapter by chapter. There’s a reason that people don’t just sit down, attempt to write a book, and then publish a decent manuscript. It’s hard! Laurie said that she needed better transition. Or that she was confused how we got from the family car to a description of my basement then to a vacation…”the flow was disjointed,” she might say. Or she would ask me why a life event was significant. Lastly, I threw out references to my church that Laurie didn’t understand. It had never occurred to me that someone wouldn’t know what a sacrament is-

WHAT IS A SACRAMENT?

There are special, holy occasions which Catholics commemorate, such as their First Communion or First Reconciliation. Have you heard of those?

IS COMMUNION WHERE THE LITTLE GIRLS WHERE WHITE DRESSES?

Yes.

I’VE HEARD OF THAT-

And when Laurie asked me what I was talking about, I realized the significance of religion. Of course! If you didn’t grow up Catholic, you’re not going to understand Catholic references. Duh! A place of worship has a paramount role in a child’s life. And for my readers as well! For me, I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t a Christian until I was a teenager, or if I encountered peers from other faiths, I wasn’t aware of it.

REALLY SHOWS YOU HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED, DOESN’T IT?

Yes. Maybe Jewish and Muslim children were in my classes by middle school, but no one talked about it. Anyway, this first memoir is about my childhood and growing up with a white, middle class, suburban upbringing in Lanham, MD. Also, I had to thoroughly explain what it was like growing up Roman Catholic in the ‘80s. Not only Catholic, but Staunch Roman Catholic as my Mom or Dad used to say.

Yes, so I think Manuscript Three or my final rewrite, in essence, became a trifecta of being indoctrinated into Catholicism, as well as medicating with good food, and how being whisked around in our family Suburban was the glue that held it all together. Its funny when I think about it, because we had a ’71 Suburban, yet, my story is still at this point called Growing Up in the 80s. It’s a working title.

I SEE.

My current editor has it now, but I didn’t ask her for title suggestions. She’s doing what’s called a developmental edit-

WHAT’S THAT?

Do you know what a rough draft is?

YES.

It’s like that. Now that my manuscript is more where I want it to be, I want her to read this version critically for my author’s voice. No grammar corrections yet. I’ve got a good story. But now, I need to know if my narration or how I sound is keeping the flow moving. After all, that was one of Laurie’s chief complaints.

GOOD LUCK!

Thank you. It has been quite a journey. I’m nervous yet excited. Thank you sharing it so far with me.

YOU’RE WELCOME. WE LOOK FORWARD TO READING YOUR MEMOIR WHEN IT IS PUBLISHED.

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