Thanks to my diary, oops, I mean blog (what is a blog but simply a public diary), I know exactly the day I started Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat: Finding the Meaning of “Like” in 1982.
It was November 1, 2012, the first of day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for you lingo fans) and about two months after the launch of my first memoir, The Percussionist’s Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal. Here’s a little bit from that blog entry:
Subject matter this time around? 1982. I’m reaching way back to when I was in ninth and 10th grades and attempting to write a prequel to “The Percussionist’s Wife.” I wrote the outline on a napkin so I have some idea where I’m going but I already know this book is going to be semi-autobiographical instead of “all dialogue and events took place as I remember and recount them.”
I’m actually amazed at how closely the final product matches that early vision. 1982? Check. Prequel? Well, sort of. It started that way, but in the way children grow up to be their own people, it sort of became a stand-alone work. While I’d love to promote The Percussionist’s Wife with Truth, Dare, the audiences for each book are different. In the end, though, Truth, Dare is about the young naive me, and The Percussionist’s Wife is about the older naive me. “Semi-autobiographical”? Check. (I’ll write more about this genre choice tomorrow.)
Six months later when I referred to my work in progress in a blog post, I had landed on my logline (also known as the answer to “what is it?”): The story of the year I turned 15 and learned to French kiss.
The fulcrum of the book is that French kissing lesson. It was one of those before-and-after moments that everyone has a few of in their lives. I had a life Before, and then my life was forever changed After. Among other things, I learned that French kissing was delicious, not disgusting.
By June 2014, I had managed a first draft of 61,000 words. I had the words, but I hadn’t yet found my voice. After much backing and forthing and the help of a conceptual editor, I determined Truth, Dare needed to be told by the 15-year-old me, not the 40something me. By early 2016, I had a revelation I vividly remember sharing with my mom (though I somehow managed to skip blogging about it): This book could be a conversation starter with teenage girls and their mothers about sex. So I drafted a reading guide of questions (more about this awesome reading guide next Wednesday).
In the end, Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat took 1,609 days (or about four and half years) from first word to launch. Which is a long incubation, but every beast is different.
As with my first memoir, this book taught me things about me. The writing process requires introspection that daily life doesn’t always demand. Despite the messy beginnings swirling in the handwritten diary entries of an angst-filled teenager, I’m proud of the final result.
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I’m celebrating the countdown to launch on March 28 of Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat: On Finding the Meaning of “Like” in 1982 with a month-long blogging bonanza, which means I’ll be blogging here every day this month about my book, about memoirs in general and about the launch.