Some good news after that downer that was my last post: I am finally done with the first draft of my memoir! The bad news: it currently checks in at 705 pages.
Fortunately for you the reader, the final product will not be 700 pages. I wouldn’t put you through that. I want you to buy the book after all. And enjoy it. And then recommend it to your friends. You probably don’t need to know what I ate one Wednesday night in 2012 (a burrito, for what it’s worth). A lot of the draft is blabber that needs to be cut down. Some of it serves as a placeholder to remind me what I was doing at the time, that I’ll eventually take out.
But no matter how many pages it ends up being, it will have some substance to it. It was not a story I could tell in a few pages. It is the story, not of my whole life, but of my experience between 2009-2016, when I first started to notice the symptoms of my disease and how it transformed and upended my life.
The draft took me about 3 1/2 years to write. I started it in January 2018, when I found myself with some extra time on my hands. I was unemployed, having recently quit my job after burning out. It was a project I always wanted to undertake, but didn’t know when the time would be right. Being unemployed made that decision easier!
I started by writing a little bit each day, and have kept it up ever since. I don’t have the patience or the hand strength to write a long book all at once. I am not someone who can write thousands of words 24/7 like Jack Kerouac did while writing On The Road. Allegedly, he wrote the book in two weeks, churning away at a typewriter nonstop, drenched in sweat, until it was complete. If I tried that, my hands would fall off. I’d probably also pass out three hours in.
One helpful resource during this journey was my daily food and strength journal. What is that, you ask? In 2011, I started a journal to track what was causing my headaches (it turns out, everything did). Then I started tracking how I felt each day, to see if perhaps the food I ate, my activity level, or even the weather contributed to how strong or weak I felt on a given day. It turns out, years later, that this journal provided a treasure trove of data that enabled me to remember countless moments from my past, both good and bad. I still keep the journal today.
This week I will begin the arduous task of editing it into something coherent. I am a bit overwhelmed with how long it will take. But, I press on!