13 Things about Permanent Marker, My Memoir, That You May Not Have Known

  1. The memoir developed out of my MFA’s thesis manuscript written between the summers of 2012 and 2014, but the very first piece I wrote that made it into the book was done the winter of 2011, just months after the accident. After getting my degree, I let it all simmer for another two years until the fall of 2016 before deciding to see if someone would be interested in publishing an unfinished manuscript, because at that point, I truly felt it was incomplete.

 

  1. In the early versions of the book, I fancied a fairy tale theme, complete with motifs, related chapter titles, and so forth based on my favorite of all time: Cinderella. Excerpt from my publishing proposal: Aimee might be the real Cinderella—not the Charles Perrault creation of 1697, or even the 1950’s Disney version. Their Cinderellas didn’t have two near-death experiences, and theirs wasn’t the type of girl to write her own fairytale. But Aimee is. Her own version, of course. One with less magic and more crises. And an eventual happily ever after. It wasn’t long before my wonderful editor Erin gently told me that the fairy tale shtick just wasn’t working. And so it was back to the drawing board.

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  1. Writers are researchers, that’s for sure. Over the course of writing my book, here is a list of everything I spent *hours upon hours* researching, in no particular order. I learned so much!kintsugi
  • Broken Heart Syndrome
  • Wound Vacs
  • Mid-Life Crises
  • Ricky Martin
  • The Physics of Car Accidents
  • Rainbows
  • Cinderella
  • Kintsugi

ricky

  1. One of the most difficult parts of writing the book—and if you followed my blog back then, you’ll remember—was deciding on an order for how to tell my story. Believe it or not, writing chronologically is not necessarily the best or most intriguing way to tell a story. Upon the suggestion of my wonderful editor Erin, I used colored note cards to categorize sections of the story line, and then I sat in the middle of my office, arranging the movable parts around me on the floor, until I started to see the shape of a story line. Erin also suggested moving back and forth in time from present to past, which is how I originally had always wanted to tell my story, but it took some time to work out smoothly. I’m very pleased with the book’s order now.

index cards

  1. I can only take partial credit for the book’s title, Permanent Marker. In discussions with both the publisher and Erin, all of my suggestions were stupid. Title writing is tricky—you want it to be unique, even checking Amazon for alike titles, but you also want it to fit. And by fit, I mean with so many parts of the story! I had worked with Erin before, crafting a standalone essay for the anthology about scars she edited and published, and when she mentioned that essay’s title, “Permanent Marker” the publisher loved it for my memoir’s title.

 

  1. There are several scenes—five for sure—that were left on the cutting room floor, as they say, not making it to the final pages for publication. Two scenes had to do with my ex-husband, and I just didn’t feel like mud-slinging or upsetting my children. Another scene I cut was the ride in the ambulance from Ashland to Mansfield, knowing the whole time that I was having a heart attack. And then there was waking up in Intensive Care and trying to talk—the same time my mom discussed whether I should have visitors. I also cut the scene of the first times after the accident I had my hair washed, but man, what memories.

 

  1. In one of the first versions of the memoir, my divorce was just background information—I just didn’t want to cause a disturbance. But for obvious reasons, my wonderful editor Erin gave me the support and rationale for including some scenes to help the story line’s movement. I was as honest as I could be, but I was expressing just my side. So, I had all three kids read the scene of devastation for approval and got it. That was tough.

 

  1. I was contracted by KiCam Projects (shoutout) to write a book of at least 50,000 words in October of 2016, five months after my mom passed away. It didn’t come out until March of 2018, taking well over a year to complete. I hope Mom approves, because she was a huge part of the story. And KiCam, a small, new indie press in Southern Ohio, is absolutely THE best to work with.

 

  1. I had absolutely nothing to do with the memoir’s cover design, and I still LOVE it.

permanent marker

  1. Prior to getting the contract for the book, I spent the summer of 2016 writing an argumentative essay for Beauty around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia (ABC-Clio) based on my experience with plastic surgery. I wrote “Psychology with a Scalpel: Yes, Cosmetic Surgery Boosts Self-Esteem.” I still very much feel that way!

 

  1. In fact, I have had three stand-alone essays published whose parts were actually born as prose now inside Permanent Marker. Another one has just been accepted for publication next fall!

 

  1. I created this blog to document the process of writing the book, but awhile back, I had another entitled I Love Ricky. I wrote about all kinds of things, particularly having to do with teaching and being a mom. I’m still teaching, and I’m still momming, so you may find some of those posts creeping up every now and then. Blogging is fun, so long as you can convince yourself that you really do have people reading and connecting to your thoughts!

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  1. Finally, I may have lived the experiences in the book, but damn were they hard to write about. As Jill Christman, my favorite writing professor ever says, “Writing a book is hard. It just is.” I’m glad she told me that two years before attempting my own, but truth is, I LOVED the challenge. And these days, I’m writing here and there. But it’s just not the same. Is there a book #2 inside of me somewhere?

 

A note to my readers: for my next blog post, “Ask Me Anything: 10 Answers to Your Questions about Writing and Teaching or…Anything,” I need questions from you. You can comment here in the blog comments, or you can post on this blog’s FB/Twitter/Insta post (or private message me there). I look forward to being so flooded with questions that I have to write a Part II for it!

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