Exploring

I loved taking a photo of the Irish child as she stepped through the entrance to Bunratty Castle outside Limerick. For me, she was Alice through the Looking Glass and Lucy entering Narnia. I often wished I had that sense of adventure, especially in my choice of books.

Although I still prefer historical fiction, I have had to change. Writing query letters about my memoir to agents required me to broaden my reading choices. What agents want is talent, a platform, dedication, and a knowledge of authors they represent. What has that meant for me? Stepping over the stone entrance into the diverse territory of memoir.

Know the agents. Know their authors. Know the books. That is how I met Paul Rosolie’s Mother of God, a story of one man’s passion not only for the Amazon, but for our natural world. That is why I read the fun, wild, sometimes raunchy, How to Grow Up by Michelle Tea and why I am halfway through the food-and-family Licking the Spoon by Candace Walsh. On my shelf waits Between Them: Remembering My Parents, by Richard Ford. Tomorrow I head to the library to pick up Him’s When Broken Glass Floats, Hickam’s Rocket Boys, and Burrough’s Running with Scissors.

Good thing I’m retired.

Maybe the only way my memoir will get published is DIY, but I value what has come from the agent search. I pick up a book, settle myself in my reading chair, and I’m that little Irish explorer dressed in yellow, ready to step through the gate into some place new.

Starting from Anywhere

“Starting from anywhere” is one of those lines from T.S. Eliot that makes me feel wise and wonderful, although Eliot’s poetry often is beyond my comprehension. What hooks me every time is the word cadence.

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season.
It would always be the same; you would have to put off
Sense and notion.

Journey is an old theme that contains infinite interpretations. I began to write my memoir, If You Came This Way, the story of my family, the convent, and my decisions to remain too long in a place where I did not fit. Now the memoir is complete, but a question remains. What exactly is at the heart of any journey?

The Dear Lucky Agent Contest (http://tinyurl.com/j4d3kqz) encouraged me to attempt a new understanding of my writing odyssey. One contest requirement is to submit the first 150-300 words. Ah, if that doesn’t demand a clear-eyed knowledge of a starting point. Next, I had to map my memoir’s route in one sentence. I fussed for a while. Impossible to put my unique story in such a confined space. Yet, I did. After I met the challenge of both word count and succinct sentence came an experience akin to hanging out with Eliot, a belief that I’m little wiser and a little more wonderful.