After six years blogging about Turkey, it’s time to move on. Well, sort of. I’ve devoted (well, that’s an exaggeration) even more years to crafting a memoir about my experiences there, which I’m ready to revise yet again. Hopefully for the last time.
I constantly reminded my writing students (dedicated and laconic alike) to avoid the grocery list format. So, what’s my memoir? A 115,000-word grocery list.
Oh, I’ve spruced it up with anecdotes, attempting to include descriptions that evoke the spirit of Istanbul. Things like “I peered down at the Bosphorus glittering beneath us to spot a medieval fortress blinking up from its stony ramparts, no doubt bemused by the modern suspension bridge above spanning two continents—and many more centuries.” Sadly, it hasn’t been glittery enough to spark the enthusiasm of an agent. I WANT an agent!
I’ve published two books, so don’t I deserve an agent?
Book number one was a children’s historical novel, Britta’s Journey~An Emigration Saga, loosely based on the emigration experiences of an elderly neighbor (and friend) who died before the book was published. That one sold about 4000 copies, which isn’t great, but it’s not too bad, either.
Book number two was Istanbul’s Bazaar Quarter, Backstreet Walking Tours. I co-wrote this with my Turkish friend Edda Weissenbacher after being fascinated by her backstreet walking tours through Istanbul. I was the photographer, map-maker, and writer/editor, working from short guides Edda had written for each walk. That book is in its third printing and has sold nearly 6000 copies. Slight improvement over Britta.
But I digress. My Turkey memoir is the topic of the day. I attended a writer’s conference recently and in a workshop led by Catherine Watson, a travel and memoir writer, I was encouraged to begin anew, preserving the gems from my current version and weaving them into a narrative that focuses on my personal journey. This feels like a tall order, but I’m going to get it done.
My problem is time. My husband Jerry and I have just devoted the last two summers to working on our new home, so there’s been little time for writing. We’re in the new house now, I’ve got my office back together, and I promised myself to devote at least a few hours each day to this new project. I’m encouraged, and deadlines work for me. I’ve just printed up the entire revised, revised, and revised memoir, which I’ll attack with a highlighter over the coming week. Then I’ll start the new narrative. I sure hope this works. At least I have a direction.
If nothing else, I have more ideas in the hopper.