I innocently thought I'd sit down, write my memories, go on the Oprah Show and instantly be famous. I expected a book deal and movie deal to follow shortly thereafter. I imagined Reba McEntire playing me in the Dear Mom and Dad, Please Send Money movie. Then I woke up.
I started writing in June, 2010. I surrounded myself with five years of letters I had written to my parents between 1971 and 1976. Each of those letters start with "Dear Mom and Dad." Thus, the title. I also found two journals I had kept off and on, over that time period and they helped fill in memory gaps.
When I ran out of inspiration, I pulled out old picture albums of my life during those years and later found two cassette tapes I had made while in Costa Rica and had sent home to my parents. I'm really grateful my mom kept those letters and cassette tapes. What a blessing. I could not have written this manuscript without them.
On July 1, 2011, at 5:00 p.m., I typed in the final "." and screamed, "I'm done!" Hank made margaritas to celebrate. Believing "I'm done," was just as naive as believing Oprah Winfrey was going to invite me to jump on her couch.
I have heard it said, and now believe, that you will spend 20% of your time writing your manuscript and the other 80% of your time editing it. Yep, that's what happens. With help from my editing groups, I had edited every word in the manuscript by July 1st, and found it pleasing. My editing group found more errors. I rewrote. I found the rewrite pleasing. Then, my writing buddy Leo, found huge gaps in logic and style and I had to agree with him. I rewrote. I found the rewrite pleasing. Then, I went to meet with a manuscript analyst - Sue Clark. I call her my "Book Doctor." Guess what? You got it . . . I'm re-writing.
"Are you done yet?" my friends want to know. Almost.