Shuffling the books on the shelf (and in the hopper)

Who is your narrator?

This usually is a simple question to answer when you’re writing a memoir. You, the writer, are the narrator (“I married a drummer. We struggled. We divorced. I learned a lot.”)

But I might have lost the voice of my narrator in my second book, also a memoir. It’s the story of the year I turned 15 and learned to French kiss, and it’s based on my diaries from the time. I was, of course, 15, and my writing sounds like it (“I hate him. He’s such a dork! Gag me with a spoon!”).

As an adult writer, however, I am looking back at my nerdy self with compassion and amusement, so sometimes my manuscript includes the thoughts of a [nerdy] 47-year-old (“At the time, I was frustrated but now I wonder how much my frustration was a sign of jealousy.”)

So who’s telling this story? The 15-year-old or the 47-year-old?

I’ve shown the manuscript to my mother, my sister and an unbiased concept editor, and there’s a consensus: “Sometimes it seems like you are telling the story from your point of view as a teenager and sometimes as an adult looking back. I’m not sure how to work those two together.”

Indeed. I don’t need an editor yet. I need a revisionist. The writer must delve back into the manuscript and salvage a clear narrator.

In the meantime, I’ve outlined another book. And I’m excited about it. More excited about it, it seems, than Book 2. So Book 3 might come out sooner.

And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

I’ll begin sharing details here as they surface. For now, let’s call it a memoir. About three weeks of being 47 (so at least my narrator is clear!).

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