Map Reading

I have been diligent for almost a week in rewriting my memoir manuscript, “Under the Birch Tree.” I’ve acknowledged open doors signaling me that it’s time to look up, and not at me feet, and walk through the timing as it is opportunity for progress. It’s time to pick the book up once again, leaving behind the work of polishing shorter essays for publication. I have heeded signs presented in my writer’s workshop group with a guest speaker talking about how he self-published, another guest writer talking about finalizing her manuscript for publication. My fellow writers in a new nonfiction writer’s group will be setting personal goals soon. Being among published book people has been a sign to get back on track and finish the rewrite.

I compared and contrasted two critiques I received over the past two years from two established professionals, each taking different angles to their critiquing. The suggestion to work with a developmental editor was a comment that weighed heavily. My internal dialogue started, “Really? I thought this was the least of my problems…” But after reading one of my chapters, “where the heart is” I realized the scenes were all over the map. I, indeed, admitted a development issue, and not just with this particular chapter, but with others, some not as under-developed, though.

How do I turn this around? I printed pages with each of my scenes. I scanned the pages to see what the big picture was telling me and I asked what I was trying to say. I then reorganized the narrative and, like puzzle pieces, fit them to create a picture, a better flow, better developed.

I took this approach with each chapter, dissecting each scene for flow, development, theme and then reorganized the pieces to fit. With further study of the smaller pictures in each chapter I could then begin to understand the overall development of my memoir. There was a strength to my story I had not know before with previous drafts. I found map reading to be a good thing for memoir writing.

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