Sunday, September 19, 2010
When one writes fiction, as I had been doing (spectacularly unsuccessfully, but joyfully...usually) the book needs to be finished, polished, finished again, rewritten, polished more, finished and then rewritten again (or is that just me?) before one even thinks about bothering the first 50 or 60 agents of the eventual 200+ agents one will need to bother before maybe, possibly, one agent responds and says "okay, I'm taking pity on you. Thanks for the letter, go ahead and send me 10 more pages." Then, assuming the agent likes that and eventually likes the other 250+ pages and agrees to represent you, that whole process is followed again while the agent tries to find a publisher for the book. These numbers aren't really even exaggerated.
With non-fiction, I have now learned (having paid not much attention to it previously) the process is different. So while I've been diligently working away on the actual writing of the actual memoir itself, I have also been spending enormous amounts of time researching and writing the book proposal. Basically that's a 50 page document that a) describes the memoir and the story being told, b) describes why I'm not only the perfect person to write it but quite possibly the only person, c) reviews competitive/ complementary books already out there and why this one would be better...or at least different, and d) provides a chapter by chapter summary. Oh, and then attachs a sample chapter. Boat. Loads. O' work. And I'm thoroughly enjoying it. To the point of distraction. (Day job? What? Clients need their documents? Really? Now? Huh, what did you say honey? I missed that...I was writing.)
My writers groups (yeah, I have two of them) have declared the proposal ready to go. I believe the proposal is ready to go. I believe the intro and first chapter (as well as a few other chapters) are ready to go. Something in the back of my brain is telling me that the second chapter is not right. It's a great chapter...but it may belong in another book. Ugh. So I'm going to have to deal with that.
I've also been researching agents who might possibly be interested in such a book. In essence I research for an agent looking for memoir, pets, cancer/ health, and humor...and there are a lot of them. Then I broadened it by eliminating "pets" (even though this is as much a dog memoir as a breast cancer memoir). I'm about 3/4 of the way through researching a list of....411 agents. Wow. Who knew? And won't it be embarrassing if all 411 aren't interested? And you know I'll share that embarrassment right here with all of you. My biggest obstacle, but one I think I've overcome, is that I don't want anyone for one moment to groan "oh jeez, another downer cancer book." Because it's so not that.
I've also been reading stacks of books. I read a lot of breast cancer memoirs when I was going through treatment (favorites were "Cancer Vixen" and "Five Lessons I Didn't Learn from Breast Cancer (and One Big One I Did)" . So now I've moved on to Dog Memoirs. Okay, I admit...I love dogs but I never used to read dog books. Because the dogs usually die!! I can't handle that. But in the interest of "my art" I'm reading them. And yes, I read (and sobbed over) Marley & Me. I'm moving on to Fixing Freddie (about a badly behaved beagle!). Oh, and I also finished, and really enjoyed, An Eagle Named Freedom (man saves eagle; eagle helps man through his cancer journey!)
I'm enjoying the process and learning a lot. And much to my surprise writing the memoir is helping me realize a few things and process even more of the cancer odyssey Seamus and I both went on. Oh, and it's also making me realize just how lucky that dog is. (And me too. ;-) )
I'll keep you posted on the progress. And when I get a few pics, I'll tell you about the Women of Achievement Luncheon too. It's been a busy week!