Sunday, May 1, 2016
Blog to Book: An Update
Hello faithful readers!
I've just finished turning my blog chapters into something resembling book chapters. I then assembled them all into one long document to get an idea how long it would be if published as a book.
I had kept a running page count in my head as I went along, and the finished item is 148 pages, close to my estimate of 150. The trouble was, I had no idea how long a typical memoir should be, especially for a nobody like me who hasn't done anything interesting apart from having an insane number of jobs.
When I first started this project, I tried looking up the average length of a memoir. I ran across an article which was a list of "do's and don'ts" for writing a memoir. I started to look at it, but suddenly stopped myself and clicked away from that page as if my life depended upon it. I don't know if you're like me, but unless it's the instructions on how to put together a bookshelf or something, if I read how to do something before I do it, I'm less likely to actually do it. I become filled with self-doubt and the belief that I'll never be able to perform to the "expert's" advice.
I'm also glad that I didn't find out how long my memoir "should" be before I started. As it started to become apparent how long the finished product would be, I began to fret that it wasn't long enough. Of course, I still had no good idea what was typical, but I was sure mine was inadequate.
So when I had the first draft laid out before me in all its glory, then I compared it to what the experts say. Actually, word count is more important than page numbers, which can be affected by things like font and the actual size of the page. I'm happy to report that my first draft of approximately 84,000 words was right in the target area of 75,000 to 90,000 words cited by a couple of reputable pundits for a first time nobody. If I had known that before I started, I would have been constantly nagged by the notion that I was either going too long or too short.
That gave me the courage to go back and actually read that list of "do's and don'ts" I had run away from before I started. It gives me more than a little pride to now know that I did most of the "do's" and avoided most of the "don'ts".
I've still got a lot of work to do before I feel confident in submitting my memoir to a publisher. To that end, would any of my lovely readers care to volunteer to read the manuscript and make corrections, suggestions and edits? It would be very helpful, and you would have my eternal gratitude (and probably your name mentioned in a published book).