It’s done now. My memoir has been a work in progress for almost 7 years. To put it into perspective, that’s more than 3 times the gestation period of an elephant. Since starting it in early 2006 I’ve moved twice, endured the worst ice storm in state history, had a severe eye injury, survived cancer, had gall bladder surgery, and have adjusted to being diabetic again. I was working full-time back in 2006 but left that in late 2009 because it was just too stressful. I know, excuses, excuses. Part of that time I was just unfocused and unsure of what to do next.
“You have to blog.”
“You have to Twitter.”
“You have to Facebook.”
Those were only a few of the bits of advice I got along the way—the ones I did.
I also joined Toastmasters International so I could fine-tune my public speaking skills. Earlier this year I did well in the International Speech competition with a speech about my experience as an organ transplant recipient. It was a glimpse at the future, when I’ll be talking to large groups of people about my life and the memoir.
There were other writing projects along the way. A humor book about Northwest Arkansas, magazine articles, short stories, and an almost-completed novel to name a few.
Sometimes I lost sight of the project that started me on the path as a serious writer. I was like Murphy Brown’s house painter who never quite finished the job until the end of the series.
And now here we are. It’s out of my hands and in the formatting process. As any writer (or any creative person for that matter) can tell you, it takes a thick skin to put your work out there, to open yourself up to scrutiny, criticism, judgment. I already knew that from approaching shop owners about selling my humor book.
But this is different. This is my life on paper, along with a few photos of me during good health and bad.
This is me.
I’ve been told countless times I have a lot of courage. I guess so. I just did what I had to do to survive. But that’s nothing compared to the courage it takes to put all my experiences into a package, slap a current photo of myself on the cover, and say, “Here it is. Buy it. Read it. Form your own opinions and judgments about my life.”
The day I submitted the manuscript, my hand hovered over the mouse, reluctant to click the “upload” button. I had given my first insulin shot and faced surgery with less angst than I had about letting go of the story.