I’m nearing the end. After three years and ten months of writing and researching, I can almost say I’m finished with the memoir I began after the death of my father. I’m still rewriting and tweaking and cutting and pasting and editing, but it is nearly there.
Every ending is also a beginning and, in this case, I am beginning to work out how to get my memoir published. Is it even publishable? Will anyone else want to read my story? Have I managed to capture the emotions which propelled me; the see-sawing between dread and excitement which kept me going? Is my writing good enough? These are questions I ask myself. One way to find out is to begin to put my manuscript out there, to pitch my memoir to publishers and agents. At the end of this month I will be attending a Literary Speed Dating event and I have spent much of this weekend working on my pitch to the publishers and agents who will be there. It has been an enlightening and somewhat frustrating exercise.
There are parameters for the pitch. The central concept of my memoir, which is around 80,000 words, must be delivered in no longer than one minute, two at the maximum. One minute to explain the intricacies of my research into my father’s past, much of it having to be translated from a foreign language. One minute to describe my quest into discovering his history. One minute in which to condense almost four years of investigation, not only into his life but also into the times in which he lived. One minute!
It is an exercise which has challenged, not only my writing skills, but also my perception of my memoir. I had to continually ask myself what I had written about, what themes had I explored, what did my narrative expose about my father, myself and our relationship. And more importantly, what if anything, would persuade a publisher or agent to publish my story.
After I wrote the few short sentences which feel like the hundredth version of my pitch, and with the assistance of my mentor Lee Kofman, I am hopeful. I believe I have managed to distill into one succinct minute, the essence of my quest to delve into the past of the enigmatic man I knew as Daddy. Only time will tell if my pitch is successful.