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Ten Things I learned About Memoir Writing in 2009
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1. That persistence can work--I mean over ten years of writing, rewriting, changing point of view twice and almost giving up. I learned that the book sold on Valentine's Day, while I was at the AWP conference in Chicago--the phone to my ear inside a Kinko's as the wind blew outside. It was heaven, even in the chill.


2. That even though a part of me would have loved to share my finished, published book with my parents when they were alive, that their deaths(at 91 and 93 after good, long lives) gave me a certain freedom. Plus, I didn't want to hurt them. Some of the book might have done that. I now talk to them and feel their protection and love in a more pure way.


3. It's important to be grateful and acknowledge all those who helped you along the way. In my case it was a virtual army of people. I sent lots of thank you emails with my news and when I think of someone I've forgotten, I try and thank them and keep them in the loop.


4. That the book is bigger than my life. I'm hoping it can help people who have family members who have been burned, or had panic attacks or ever been separated from their parents when they were children.


5. That I'm proud of how hard I worked on the language. As a poet the words mean a lot to me. But it might not be perfect and that's okay.


6. That remembering that the book is bigger than just my life will help me talk about it when the old feelings surface.


7. That a whole new life is opening up for me.


8. That I can't quit my teaching job yet—and I can focus on what I love about my job and my students who are big supporters of my writing as well. Talking to them about my process inspires them.


9. That working with an editor is a give and take. I was fortunate to find a wonderful, amazing publishing house—Atlas and Co.


10. That I need to take care of myself during this time--both for myself and my family--like enjoying quiet moments at home or taking a hike to recharge or just sitting on the couch with my precious dog in my lap.