Making Memoir: Cut, Cut, Cut, and Find Connections
January 18, 2018 § 4 Comments
In our latest issue, Chelsey Drysdale chronicles how expert advice from an outside editor-for-hire allowed her to find the cohesive, interconnected memoir hidden within a series of disconnected essays.
“Once I started making tough decisions about what was ‘earning its space,’” she writes, “it became obvious that four essays I had diligently crafted—one for seven years—were no longer needed. Meticulous dialogue, tornadoes, a sudden death, a doozy of a New Year’s Eve, an atrocious haircut that solidified my resolve to move, and the unlikely prophecy of an obnoxious stranger on a pier all got axed. Somewhere is a crowded cemetery replete with precious darlings I don’t miss.”
Drysdale details her slash and burn journey, which resulted ultimately in discovering new material where she hadn’t expected to find it, and recommends the journey to other writers:
“When I’ve heard authors say they’ve rewritten their books more than once, starting from page one, I’ve thought, ‘There’s no way I could do that.’ But I did, and I’m grateful. Now I relish the lengthy process and trust it.”
You can read more of what Drysdale learned in her full Craft Essay, and remember: never underestimate the usefulness of an intelligent, experienced, objective editor.