In Which I Attempt to Finish My Book in 4 Days

In Which I Attempt to Finish My Book in 4 Days November 23, 2012

I read The Ditchdigger’s Daughters in 11th grade when I had absolutely no aspirations for college or writing or sports or anything.  My world was just that small that I had no clue what it had to offer me or what I could possibly offer it.  But in the pages of that book I found 5 black female siblings who overcame poverty and went on to be M.D.’s.  I saw myself in them and realized I didn’t have to fit into a stereotype.  That’s the kind of memoir I want to write.  One in which you can find the common ills of humanity weaved within the threads of my story.

About 2003-ish I began working on the memoir of my crazy life growing up in inner city Detroit.  On December 25, 2005 my laptop was stolen.  I had no back up.  Merry Christmas.  So. I wiped my tears and started over.  Over the last 7 years I’ve worked hard on it, sometimes lazily plugging away, sometimes so aggressively it’s all I could think -or read- about.

But something clicked in me in the last few years.  It went from a dream I’d try and pursue to a dream I’d do no matter what.  I created a blog accountability page because I knew support and community would be key.  Somehow, the stars aligned and I was given two free tickets to NYC and friends & families members chipped in money for me to attend the Blogher’s Writer’s Conference hosted by The Penguin Group where I learned a booty-load of useful information.  Earlier this year, I took Gotham’s Online Writer’s Workshop for Memoir.  I’ve read a backpack full of books on writing & I invested in Danielle LaPorte’s – Your Big Beautiful Book Plan to further help me on my journey.  In other words I’ve taken a long, purposefully slow, strategic journey towards being published.

Last year, I gave myself the goal of a 100,000 word rough draft done by my 35th birthday, December 30, 2011.  And I did. (Happy Birthday to me)! This year I gave myself the goal of a 70,000 word final draft due by my 36th birthday, December 30, 2012.

7 weeks away.  Like, seriously I’m in shock.

I’ve been very content to make modest goals one year at a time.  We all know this, but writing a good book takes time.  I’ve never wanted to force a mediocre story out into the world.  I’ve wanted to write something worthy of being UNtrendy.  In other words, a classic.  A timeless story of hope and redemption.  That’s all I ask.  Is that too much?

I was majorly inspired by Daves Cullen’s (no relation to Edward, Bella or Renesme) Columbine book which he famously took 10 years to write.  He wanted the story to develop fully especially the outcome of the survivors of that ridiculously sad day.  It worked. His NY Times best-selling book won 22 awards & has landed him on every major network on t.v.

It’s been important for me too, to watch my story develop, to see myself survive the elements of my childhood which even now still causes me problems.  It’s frustrating to admit but  I’m glad my book has taken this long.  I’ve been too young, too inexperienced, too ignorant, too caught, too depressed, to maligned, too stuck to finish it before now.  But recently, I have this stronger sense of urgency.  I’ve gotten my 30th affirmation like this.

It’s time.

So.  Here’s the plan.  I have a new bloggy friend, Elora (teacher, blogger & Author of: Come Alive) who is willing to help people create and craft their book in an hr. long pay-as-much-as-you-can format.  She has more Story-Coaching sessions available if you too have a story to mine or a project you need to git’r’done.  In combination with Elora’s help, I’m dedicating 4 business days, or app. 32 hours, 28 if I take a lunch break, 26 if we include the time I’ll waste getting distracted on facebook.  25, if we include bathroom breaks.  In any case, I’m going to have between 24-32 hours spread over a 4-day span to take my book from rough draft to very nearly query worthy(!!!!!!!!)

I have 4 vacation days that I had to take before the New Year and I began to cook up ways I could use those days strategically. Having these 4 days available to me feels like I’m in the last stage of labor, that I’m 10 cm dilated and the baby’s head it almost out!  All there is for me to do is reach down and pull that baby on out like Kourtney Kardashian did.

Or…something like that.

I’ll be working, 9:30am -5:30pm, December 4-7.  I hereby promise not to blog, but to update you via twitter or my fb page on how my progress is going.  If you see me farting around on facebook or you know, crying in the corner of a Starbucks give me a hug and tell me affectionately to get back to work.

Here’s to Detroit’s Daughter.  May 2013 bring an agent, a reputable publishing house & a book deal!

*I made this image a few years ago to help me dream of what could be.  I’m pretty sure that now I’ll use my real last name and I’ll pitch the book as a memoir of hope as opposed to a memoir of the city.*

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  • Sara

    So. . .maybe I’ll be getting my autographed copy sometime in 2013!

    • Well, I hear these things take time, let’s shoot to get you that autographed copy sometime in 2014. =)

  • Erica

    Yay!! I’m do excited for you!! I’m in the “waiting room” patiently waiting for your delivery!!

    • Erica, you can be my nurse. =) ahahhahahahaha

  • heidioran

    Grace- Not sure if you remember me, but we met at BlogHer writers (I also Co-Run Charitable Influence with Fadra). I can’t believe I just stumbled on this! I was googling reviews of Danielle Laporte’s Big Beautiful Book Plan and found this post. Funny enough, I grew up in Windsor and have spent a lot of time in Detroit. Will be headed back soon for X-Mas. 😉

    Anyhow, hope the book is going well, could you tell me, did you find the BBBP worth the investment of $150?

    Let me know if you need an extra reader to look over your book once you’re finished, would be happy to help!

    • Heidi, would you be mad if my answer was “vaguely?” I have sort of a horrible memory, but you do look a bit familiar! =) So cool that your doing Charitable Influence! Anyway, as for YBBBP I have found it very helpful BUT time consuming, there’s a lot to digest in there! In some places I’ve found it best to skip the parts that don’t necessarily relate to my project. One of the things I’ve found most helpful is the plethora of stories, query letters & proposals from published authors that have got them the book deal. And, there are several lengths, differing tones and projects so you can get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. I found it the most helpful to print everything out, paper hole punch and stick in a binder…otherwise it’s just an overwhelming 400 page PDF. Overall, I’m glad I got it and I still have a chunk to get through that I’ll be going through in this next 6 weeks as I try to finish up my book & proposal. I was hoping to write a review in Jan. after I got the whole picture, but here’s my partial review…just for you. =) If you do wind up getting it, do me a favor and click the YBBBP button on the right…I’ll get a little affiliate link kick back & a merrier Christmas. lol. =) Thanks for stopping in and commenting!!!!

      • heidioran

        Lol – I totally understand. I actually am in one of your pics on your BlogHer Writers page. Proof we met haha. I’m the one in the red shirt with shoulder length brown hair (you can see my backside on my face!)

        Thanks for the mini-review! I’m a bit of a scatter brain so I wonder if I am maybe going to get this because I like signing up for courses (it’s a bad habit!) and think it sounds good and is the answer to my prayers! Or if it will actually really help me like I hope it will to put the finishing touches and revamp my proposal. I digress… It’s a big investment really.

        I will likely be purchasing it, and I will def. go through your site 😉

        • Heidi, hahahahaha I just looked back at the pics! It’s true, it’s PROOF! LOL. I will agree with you, it really is an investment. And I’m a lot like you in that signing up for courses ALWAYS feels like the absolute right thing to do at the time until….you don’t actually make time to do them. I have three right now (including YBBBP) & YBBBP is the only one I’ve used because I took the time to print it out and binder it —so please do that step. I also emailed the 7 separate PDF’s into my Kindle so that if I’m on the run and feeling inspired I can read it from my Kindle (or even my iphone Kindle app, but I confess that I’ve never done that before =). Anyway, I think it’s useful if you’ll commit to using it. Either way, GOOD LUCK & BLESSINGS on your project!!!! Is it fiction or something else?

          • heidioran

            Thanks for all the info Grace! I truly appreciate it.
            I am writing a Personal Growth/Non-Fiction book. Book proposal was complete for BlogHer Writers, but I’ve changed my direction a bit, and had a busy year so it’s time to get back to it!
            Looking forward to reading your book!

  • SaraH

    Grace, what a beautiful cover! It’s really precious 🙂

  • jennifer peterson

    woohoo!!! Can’t wait to read it:)

  • Go for it, Grace — and be sure to report to us on the 8th, about the amazing progress you made!

  • Wow, go for it, Grace, inspirational woman!

    • THANK YOU, Anita! The rah-rah’s really do help!