Dreams About Writing a Memoir Require Roadsigns

dreams require roadsignsWay back before I ever had even a Letter to the Editor published I was writing like mad, taking classes and entering all sorts of writing contests.

A big one loomed and I had what I thought was a great story and (here’s a miracle for self-isolating I-can-do-it-myself me) I thought maybe someone should take a look at it and tell me what they think.

That other person was San Francisco theater actor and monolog expert, Bill Talen, who has since developed a national following as The Reverend Billy presiding over The Church of Stop Shopping.

Part theater, part political satire Talen dresses up as a hell fire and brimstone, white suit Sunday preacher and holds “church” at corporate headquarters, in the Capitol, and anywhere else he can think of to get consumers and politicians thinking about what they’re doing to the planet.

The fiction short story I wrote was about a speed-popping scooter mechanic in love with a woman he’s never met, the lady at the newspaper that accepts funeral notices and writes obituaries. With grease on his hands, he read the obituaries each day on his lunch break admiring the way she wove magic from sad little lives. So, let’s say it was an off-beat love story.

I mailed it to Bill in New York and he did me one of the biggest, most crucial favors anyone can do for an aspiring writer. He read it three times and then he told me it stank.

Bill explained that stories are like roadtrips because you’re taking your reader on a journey. Think about what it would feel like to drive with no road signs. You need lines that say, Hey! turn left here; stop and compare; consider the parallel universe, etc… Those little niceties that knit paragraphs into a story are crucial.

All of which was news to me.

Taking his advice I rewrote my story and entered it into a (rather big to me) contest. I was very pleased to have it earn an honorable mention and an invitation to read it out loud in a crowded San Francisco bookstore — a very big thrill for me.

Writing roadsignsI was thinking about writing and road signs this morning when it flashed through my brain I had forgotten that lesson – – only in a bigger way – – because, you know, I’m such a genius.

Blogging about writing a book is one thing, but what then?

Did we (by we I mean Cath & Heather) really work so hard to attract upwards of 40,000 visitors per month only to pull the plug and hope for the best when I time out? How will I get my book published and how can I find my wider audience? Could I speak on the topic of toxic mothers: and if so, where and when?

I’ve been working on my memoir, collecting other women’s stories and blogging about it all without looking for or putting up road signs. One big one I’ve missed is “What’s next?” Another I should have put up myself by now is “Detour.” Because as my time blogging here comes to a close at the end of April.

Maybe its time to fire up a camera and videotape a few five minute segments related to surviving and thriving despite toxic parenting? Maybe I should carve out a few nights of reviewing author and speaker websites?

Maybe it’s time for me to sit down and study some maps instead of just driving like hop-head on a cross-country trek. Maybe I should slow down and watch for signs that might help me discover the next phase of my journey. And if nothing comes up, nothing is stopping me from making up some signs of my own.

And when will I be done collecting all this information and allow myself to say that my memoir is done?

Rayne Wolfe’s dream is to write her first book Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter by the end of 2011. She completed her dream journey May of 2011 on 8WD after a year living her dream. You can find her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.

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  • Rayne-
    So excited for the next journey in life! I love how you put it: I’ll make road signs of my own. That’s amazing and so true. Can’t wait to meet you in person and spend time with you! :)
    –Andi

  • I am loving the roadsigns! My current road sign feels like a round-about… time to get my dream team more involved!

    – Heather

  • Carole

    “If you build it (in this case design it) they WILL come.”

    Carole

  • Ah yes, roadsigns.

    I love this, and the point that the dream changes over time and turns into something more.

    Even major publishers are adjusting to the changes to the publishing industry and author dreams, they advise –

    “Simon & Schuster promote the use of blogs, social media, book sites and video for authors who want to market themselves and their books. This is essentially the Author 2.0 Model where you have a central hub site with lots of ‘spokes’ linking to it and bringing you people, traffic and sales from around the net.”

    So not only do you have a website and blog, but you have a YouTube channel, a Facebook Page, a Twitter feed and you guest post on other blogs to drive traffic to your website. As Heather can attest, the biggest mistake of business owners or anyone who puts up a website is that if you build a website people will magically come.

    It doesn’t happen unless you are famous.

    Driving traffic is a up at dawn, 7-days-a-week effort that takes time (real time) to take off — the same with social media — a lot longer than people realize.

    I like the article, “Why You Should Launch Your Blog with a Team” —

    “In order to conquer a niche, you’ll need to do more than just launch yet another blog. Everyone has done that and many have failed. There are relatively few successful and well-known blogs with just a single author. Take The Huffington Post and TechCrunch, for example. Both have a single person backing them, but they have many people writing for them daily. Both are known online and offline and are considered the top blogs in the world.

    Having multiple authors (or editors) at your site can benefit you in the long-term, as you’ll be able to continue producing more content. You won’t be forced to rely on a single person – yourself – to research and write each new post. Your readers will expect and demand more quality content as a result, and advertisers will also see the benefit of more writers.

    While having a set of writers can help you expand your own site, having a more powerful team (spread across several sites) will help you grow even faster. There are a number of “top” bloggers who started this way, and this technique has certainly paid off for them.”

    The idea is that you use one site to launch many sites and have them all interacting with each other — the same way we have approached dreaming. So dreaming actually involves expansion — doing more, being more, interacting more.

    The more I understand dreaming, the more I get that it is a group effort. Guy Kawasaki had 100 people help him complete his book . . . that doesn’t even begin to address all the websites and blogs that helped with the launch of his latest book. Dream success is definitely a team sport.

    I am excited to have coffee and chat. Great post –

    Cath

  • Jayne Speich, Financial Assistance

    Hi Rayne – Road signs! What a great visual. Imagine if you decided to drive to Maine – you’d have a clear destination in mind but about 100,000 different ways to get there…in a case like that. road signs would make all the difference. I’d love to see another post on what your road signs turn out to be. You’ve inspired me!

    Jayne

    • Rayne

      Classic case of one column leading to another! I shall give it thought. Thanks for the suggestion! – Rayne