Ready to Write a Memoir

“…but seven years is long enough and all of us
deserve a visit now and then
to the house where we were born
before everything got written so far wrong”
– Peter Meinke, “Liquid Paper

I am so very fortunate that The Fix accepted my proposal and will publish excerpts from my memoir – as I write it! – as a column on Fridays, beginning 3/24/17.

While I self-publish readily on my blog, for me, selection of my work by others for publication is validation of its merit. The Roanoke Times published my letter to the editor on 9/2/14, technically my first piece of writing related to addictions published by another source, but it’s to The Fix – a publication dedicated for 6 years to reporting exclusively on addictions and recovery – I attribute accepting my first piece of writing that attempts to fully express the reality of what having the condition of addiction is like.

Screenshot from The Fix

First publication with The Fix, 5/16/16

My plan is to complete a memoir over the next 150 days, an average of 500 words per day, then to begin to finalize a 75,000-word manuscript for potential print publication, and then move ahead to what I might have written “before everything got written so far wrong.”

This is going to be messy. I have pieces of my story hither and yon – on this blog in various, vaguely named categories – Memoir and Autobiography, (non-addiction-related posts, not sure why I have both terms), and Recovery Story (addictions-related posts) – on The Fix, on an abandoned TypePad blog, and in thousands of Word documents stored in my Dropbox folder.

I’ve written the first 6 columns. The next one is beginning to emerge and I don’t think Part 7 is going to sequentially follow Part 6. So I’m going to try to keep links to posts in some kind of meaningful order from this page. New content will appear first on The Fix.

On this blog, I’ll publish excerpts from the columns on The Fix and link back to the full column, and post additional pieces that surpass The Fix’s 1,000-1,200-word limit per piece. All of those posts on my blog, and explanatory posts like this one, I’ll keep in a new category entitled “Hopefully.” (Why will become clear after the first column is published by The Fix on 3/25/17). I’ll keep track of non-memoir publications here.

My proposal to The Fix best expresses my intentions:

I would like to contribute weekly, 1000-word excerpts from my addictions memoir – hot off the press as I write them – to The Fix.

I’ve realized that, over the past 4 years, thanks to you [Desiree Bowie, Senior Editor] and The Fix, and through my own personal blog, I have been writing an “addictions memoir” online, one blog post at a time.

I am ready to compose the posts that will comprise my addictions memoir, a 10-year period stretching from the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 to today, 2017. [Realized since writing this I’ll need to start in 2006.]

Having read dozens of addiction memoirs, I think my story, and how I am writing it, contribute uniquely to the genre.

– I am one among a likely cohort of 300 who developed addiction in Blacksburg, Virginia after the Virginia Tech shootings. (Of the 40,000+ people living in Blacksburg in 2007, research predicts 15% of them would develop PTSD. That would be 6000. Of that 6000, research predicts 5% would be develop addiction. That’s 300.)

– From publicly disclosing that I have alcoholism, I have experienced first-hand, in the fish bowl of a small town, the stigma of addiction and its heartbreaking consequences.

– I am among the growing number of mature women in the U.S. who are developing alcoholism and other addictions later in life.

– I am among the large numbers of people who have experience with, and may appreciate, 12-step recovery for personal growth, but who found participating in the program and working the Steps insufficient to successfully treat addiction and co-occurring disorders.

– I share my personal recovery story in the context of the latest data on what addiction is and what effectively treats it.

– I am a trained counselor, for heaven’s sake, specializing in addictions treatment! How could this have happened?!

– My story does not conclude with a faith healing through religion or spirituality. This is stated too simply, but I am neither religious nor spiritual. In the floating chaos of randomness, I have had to find a way to abstain.

– I want to limit the manuscript to 75,000 words, I write every morning, several thousand words per week, so I expect to complete the manuscript in several months. I can’t guarantee that the manuscript will find a publisher, but I can guarantee that I will meet your content deadlines with fine writing, impeccably researched and cited.

Here we go.

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  1. Adelaide K H Haynes says:

    This is so clearly your way, Anne, always and in all ways—taking the writing road in recovery. Bon voyage!

    • Anne Giles says:

      Oh, Del! Remember when you said, “Limits force priorities to emerge”? Such wisdom! Thank you for your good wishes and friendship!