A funny thing happened on the way to the memoir. I got diverted by my chickens, and I haven't even owned any in almost 30 years.
I had a working title (created only after a bunch of agonizing) called "Life Among the Chickens".
My working discription was"A woman who grew up in the urban New York City of the 1950s and 1960's finds herself homesteading in rural Arkansas in the early 1980's, learning along the way about chickens, outhouses and what really matters in life."
Well, this is all true (I did grow up in New York City, I did find myself homesteading in Arkansas in the early 1980's and it was certainly an interesting experience) but what I keep asking myself is:
What about my life would people really care about? In other words, what makes my life so special? It's nice to think we are all special in our own ways, but that doesn't produce a great story. I'm not thinking "best seller" here but "why does my life have meaning?"
I really don't know right now. And then I made things worse for myself. I somehow lost about half my manuscript (I thought I had backed it up by emailing it to myself, but apparently not) so my true word count is about half of what appears on NaNoWriMo. Shame on me.
Next (can you see the excuses piling up?) I've been sick the last two days. During the worse of it, I was on the couch (while a plumber was working on our plumbing, in the middle of me having a stomach virus) watching You Tube videos of elevated subways running through my neighborhood.
No wait. It was a fascinating experience. At least it was for the twilight zone of being sick. Those chickens seemed far, far away...about 1400 miles worth of far away.
Finally, I discovered that "chicken memoirs"seem to be "in" right now. A quick look online found these memoirs, and I froze because if this is what it takes to be published, I'm doomed. The chicken memoir has been done. And done. And done. Just four examples:
1. "Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea" by Catherine Goldhammer
Problem: no sea anywhere near Arkansas.
2. "Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes" by Janice Cole.
Problem: My idea of cooking is popping a Healthy Choice frozen meal into the microwave. Don't think there are too many recipes for frozen dinners.
3. "Barnheart The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One's Own" by Jenna Woginrich.
Well, this one is sort-of me, which brings up the question: do I have anything new to share? Well, there was the hissy-fit I threw when the Springdale, Arkansas library wouldn't issue me a library card in my own name but that in itself does not a memoir make. And, my experience in Arkansas cured me of farming, or whatever it was that I was doing out there.
4. And finally, "Once Upon a Flock" - Life with My Soulful Chickens" by Lauren Scheuer.
The Boomer Muse blog said of the Soulful Chickens book:
"The happiest book I've read lately happens to be one of the top 10 most anticipated memoirs of 2013 by Publishers Weekly and it's about chickens. Yes, but you won't see any chickens baked, broiled or stir fried in Once Upon a Flock: Life With My Soulful Chicken by illustrator Lauren Scheuer."Good grief, one of the top 10 most anticipated memoirs of 2013!
In other words, the market is being flooded with chicken memoirs! Who would have thought....
So, I can do one of two things: either write to please myself OR, change the emphasis and keep plowing forward. But either way, I do have to get back to the memoir. I just can't chicken out.
What is your best excuse for not writing?