Deciding to dedicate all study and practice to my first memoir was the best decision I could have made for myself and my writing. A few months ago, I realized that all the information I was getting from free resources–articles, blog posts, writing classes, and podcasts–was simply being disseminated in different ways, no longer teaching me anything new. When I first moved to Bellingham, I considered going back to school since I felt like my life was starting anew, but I am just not well enough to commit to a rigorous academic schedule, especially not one that requires attending physical class at specific times.
However I’ve wanted my writing to ascend to that next level, needing to move beyond what I can teach myself. One day, some headline caught my attention on Twitter, leading me to JerryJenkins.com. I don’t remember what the post was about, but I liked it so much that I signed up for his email list and received a message about a free webinar. I’ve since played so many of his webinars that I can’t remember what it was about. At first I was suspicious. The chairperson kept mentioning Jerry’s Guild, and stay tuned for information on how to join, and take advantage of this extra deal only offered during the webinar, and blah zee blah blah. I was like ok whatever, I’ll take my free information and go. But…
The information was so good. Jerry spoke from experience, of which he has much. While a lot of it was stuff I’d taught myself over the years, hearing it from a human voice and not my screen reader, with real-time examples, I felt things I’d learned begin to click into place. So I paid to join the Guild. All of Jerry’s webinars are available to me now (albeit not completely controllable with my screen reader) and I’ve since been able to study from home when I’m well enough to focus my mental energy. I’ve started putting into practice the things I’m learning and my writing has indeed jumped to the next level.
I wrote the first draft of my memoir back in November for NaNoWriMo and have since been in the rewriting phase, using Jerry’s teachings on ferociously self editing as I go, having a blast making scenes really pop. Using my own story to practice has been invaluable, as there’s little struggling over plot and character, since my plot is my story and I’m the protagonist. I say little struggling because, while I know my own story, I find myself writing about an event that took place before or after something else, only to notice while rewriting that that timeline is incorrect.
On Thursday, I attended jerry’s memoir webinar and it showed me what’s been missing, solidifying all that I’ve taught myself. Like switching from margarine to butter in my baking, I’ve finally found the ingredient that makes the recipe click. Yes! So…I’ve been working on the second draft of my memoir, tightening up the writing, adding color and shading to the sketches, and it’s 2008 and I’m about to go blind.
After Jerry’s memoir webinar, I’ve realized that my structure is all wrong, and from the work I’ve done, new themes have emerged. If I had the attention of an agent or publisher with a hard deadline, I’d be freaking out right now. How’s that for a silver lining? the only deadline thus far is my goal for finishing this draft by April 24th. I’ve considered abandoning it to begin working with my new theme and structure, but I’ve decided to finish this work since it has become a silver mine of experience and personal growth. After I finish it, I’ll mine it for the silver that’s waiting to shine. This memoir is like a paint by numbers picture for the beginning artist. I’ve been calling myself a writer. Now I believe it.
Thank you, Jerry Jenkins!
*Post originally appeared on my personal blog, In the Center of the Roof. It inspired this new site, so I published it here to help me set things up. Remember the old, pardon our dust, graphics on early websites? Yeah, please pardon my dust.