We all have a story.
I've been writing all my life, but for the past 7 years I've been blogging about events or projects and as a performer I have read my work at many poetry slams and open mics.
But then something happened. My world got turned upside down by someone I loved. So, as I've always done before, I turned within to make sense of my world. I turned to my spirituality, my humor, my music and my writing to help me figure out the tumultuous emotions that were thrust upon me.I decided to start writing memoir after a bit of a life/love disaster. It comforted me to write.
My mother was always writing, banging away on her typewriter. It seemed like a good place to start.
I started at the beginning with childhood, wrote it in as clear detail as I could remember. I would just relax and think back to emotions, surroundings, smells, sights, sounds and write it as faithfully as I could put it down. I wrote about awesome things, fun things, terrifying things, things that made me think.
It helped me heal. It helped me learn about myself so that I could continue to do what I love best, which is to help others.
Writing about my childhood.... led to some scary stories....which led to some hard writing. But write it, I did. I just kept going. Then I wrote about being a Seeker with my mother...and then ....about my teenage years and some wild oats.
I just kept going.....writing about things that were amazing or weird or frightening or embarrassing or supernatural. It helped me to realize how very strong I am and have been.
I wrote about the birth of my girls, one of which surprised us with Down's Syndrome when she came into the world. I wrote about gigs, musical performance and being a traveling costumed minstrel...
Such a really odd and wonderful life I've had!
I do think that everyone has a story. I mean, otherwise, why are we all unique?
So, after the catharsis of writing was over and I was spent, I put it out to a few of my trusted friends (Lorie Finger, Christine Bonvino and Diana Baretsky) to mark it up with their red pens. And mark it up they did! And I was glad. Then I gave it to my friend and newspaper man, Russ Tarby to be "the first reader." He said he'd be honored to read it and give me his thoughts....and by the way, he asked if he "could make some notes on grammar and punctuation as he went along?" "Absolutely!" I was grateful for all the suggestions and advice and copy editing I could get!
My copy came back from Russ with many many pages looking like this:
Well....sorta glad :)
Back to the drawing board.
I'll tell you one thing....editing is not as much fun as writing. No fecking way. It's tedious. But it is a necessary evil.
But between Lorie, Christine, Diana and Russ...they really really helped to shape it up some more!
So then once the book was done (again :), the next part was to make it look like a book!
My friend, Book Marshall, has been an amazing graphic artist and wizard of making my words evolve into pages, pages into a chapter, chapters into a real book! He encouraged me to put in pictures! Book is a handsome Godsend to me and this project and I can't thank him enough! He has been a trouper and a really awesome teammate on this daunting quest to turn words into a finished book!
It has been quite a process, and what a learning curve!
First, you have to deal with your emotions a lot when writing memoir. I mean, I don't think there's another form of literature that is so extremely personal! It's like your fanny is hanging out for everyone to see. (It is.).
Then there's dealing with the logistics of composition and all that it entails....outline, thematic elements, symbolism....
After that, there is the monster of editing 106,000 words. Many times. Many many many times.
And just when you think it's perfect....you find another flaw or correction to be made. The devil is in the details. What a true statement that is!
Then there is the building of the actual book. You have to pick a font. (and no, not Times Roman). There are a kazillion fonts. And graphic artists, writers and publishers all have their favorites! There is the decision of what to NAME your book (mine has so many elements in it, that I needed a broad inclusive name. I'm very happy with my title, which took me a long time to come up with...)
What should the cover be like? I chose this fun and interesting pic from a fall excursion to Lake Ontario when I was out playing with my grown up girlfriends in the surf and woods! I love that water has always been the symbolism of Emotions. Here I am, on the edges...dipping my feet into the surf, testing the water, the smoothness of the water, the tumult of the incoming waves and surf. My happiness and joy of life and to be alive!
It's all very much like the book inside. :)
Some of the other things to deal with were pictures (a very goodly suggestion from Book was that it should have photos.) But man! Which ones? This in turn, had me looking through photo albums from my family and my childhood. This dredges up lots of emotions, again...Which ones to pick? They are all so good! Decisions, decisions!
Like, this one didn't make it in, there were just too many kewl pics.......
But in this photo, I am 19 and already MARRIED!
Then Russ Tarby gave me a wondrous gift. He gave me this descriptive and fun write up for the back cover!
"Buckle up for a bumpy ride over the rocky rural roads of Upstate New York. Behind the wheel sits Ms. Merlyn – farm girl, flower child, a pirate and a performer – who will step on the gas and negotiate the curves as she takes you on an all-expenses-paid tour of her life’s journey among drumlins and dreadnoughts.
She’ll lift dust along the dirt roads and lay rubber on the interstates. Shy as a child, Merlyn was vexed by her mother’s incessant spiritual seekings as they drove from one church to the other like lost pilgrims. Regardless, those seekings would come to define Merlyn’s ride through life.
Now an uninhibited musician – part pirate wench and part Joni Mitchell – Merlyn shares road tales from Renaissance fairs to rock’n’roll clubs. She shifts into neutral to recall offbeat weddings where she functioned as both entertainer and referee.
When she was a kid, Merlyn desired a horse. As an adult, she desired a man who resembled Jesus. As she cruises the back roads of Cayuga County, she recalls a marriage failed and a marriage firm, the euphoria and heartache of motherhood, a life in music and a déjà vu encounter with a serial murderer.
Yes, you’d better secure that seat belt before you turn these pages. You’ve never taken a trip quite like this one, a joyous and jaunty ride you’ll never forget."
Entertainment Editor, Eagle Newspapers, Syracuse
Entertainment Editor, Eagle Newspapers, Syracuse
He really caught the authentic flavor of this book! I am indebted to him for it!
But boy, howdy, I have learned so much from this process!
While I wanted to get picked up by a big publisher, frankly, I really don't have either the time nor the inclination to submit, resubmit and get the traditional rejection letters until I found the perfect publisher. No, my husband said, "Let's just self publish. We have a cottage industry with our music CDs. It's gone very well for us this way! Let's just do it up and get your book out there as soon as possible."
I chose Createspace as it would give me the flexibility of publishing a honest to goodness paperback in my hand...as well as a virtual one, should I manage that aspect of it. Createspace has been really wonderful to work with and Book Marshall and I have interfaced well with them.
We are still hoping to get a digital copy to the book available for those folks who read by Kindle candlelight.
I am still learning. Now onward to the next daunting learning curve....
If you are interested in my stories (I was almost captured by a serial killer, I lived a childhood of sweet abandon in the fields and streams of Upstate New York, I went "church hopping" with my mother who was a glorious Seeker, I ran amok as a wild teen, I got married and had two beautiful girls-one who had Down's Syndrome- and I became a performer, musician and fortune teller...)
It's not your regular run of the mill life story.
You can find it here on Createspace!
Click here to go to Createspace for my book and info on me as an author!
and here on Amazon!
Click here for Amazon paperback!
To be honest, it's all very surreal to me now, that I have actually written a book and with the help of my true friends, I have documented a truly odd and wonderful life! I started writing, and inch by inch, over time and space, it has come to life and a dream has come true! You CAN do it, if you just keep plugging away and don't listen to the nay-sayers!
I am now on my Second Journey with this last one behind me.
I wonder what I'll do next.....
With Love and Hope~