So I’m waiting for my first reader to get back to me about my new manuscript. This is the book I’ve been working on for years. I didn’t weigh it when I turned it in to her, but it’s 312 pages, about 90,000 words. That’s a lot of words. Does anybody care as much as I do? No, of course not. I once had a writing teacher who warned us that there’s always a little voice in a writer’s head that says, “Why write a book when you can go around the corner and buy one?” Now, you don’t even need to go around the corner. You can just click a few buttons.
Nobody might care about the people in this family history/memoir as much as I do, but hopefully my story telling will engage some readers and those will tell others and the book will find its way to an audience. That’s what’s happened to so many of my novels. But this is a memoir and I’ve been finding it hard to figure out what’s on the page and what’s still in my head. If you’re writing about a character, you’re coming to the page as fresh as the reader. But if you’re telling the story of your parents and their love affair in England during the War and you’ve heard versions of these tales over the years, you and the reader are starting off in different places. I keep wanting to look up from the screen and ask my future reader, “Wait, have I told you that already?” Or, “do you need to know all this?”
So that’s why I’ve turned it over to a person I consider my ideal reader. She doesn’t know the story of my family, she will come to the page with a fresh eye and ear, and she’ll tell me where I’ve said too much and where I’ve said too little.
In the meantime, I wait.