There's a Memoir in the Works!

RELEASE DATE: SUMMER 2022

I've been a travel writer for more than 20 years. But it wasn't until much more recently that I started working on a memoir. I felt compelled to start writing it when my mother became sick a few years ago, and it gradually become a complete collection of memories of my mother's and my life together. It's also a story of how even a misfit kid can follow his dreams, and how families can deal with love, loss and forgiveness.

Sound too heavy or syrupy for you? 

Well, it's not all serious. This memoir anthology collection — tentatively titled Prepare for Departure: A Travel Writer's Notes on Life, Death and Frequent Flyer Miles — also includes stories about me stealing stuff from airports and imitating a middle-aged female flight attendant when I was about 13 years old. It includes stories about me choosing Star Wars over religious salvation. And stories about my Aunt Agnes making noises like James Brown. And how I became a travel writer since I'm too anti-social to be a flight attendant.

After a few years of hard work, I've finally found a publisher! It's an Australian outfit called Vine Leaves Press, which publishes print and ebooks in English for sale around the world. They're an innovative publisher that aims to blur the line between commercial and experimental work, and I'm thrilled to be working with them.

Now I have a few months to finalize my manuscript before handing it over to the development editor, who will work with me to polish things even further. Excited about working on this very different project! 

Starting the Final Edit Before Handing Over my Manuscript

March 9, 2021: I have until November to submit the final version of my memoir manuscript to the development editor, but they advised that if I want to do a final read/edit, I should do it sooner rather than later, so that I'll be ready to look at it with fresh eyes later in the year, as the development editor starts jumping in with comments and changes.

I can totally understand their advice, because I do indeed get sick of this manuscript if I spend too many weeks or months in a row working on it. Taking a break is an important part of the writing process. And so now, I've checked into a co-working space in Forest Hills, Queens (that's New York City) so that I won't be distracted as I work (I'm an easily distracted person).

Since it's already been several months since I started submitting the manuscript to potential agents and publishers, I'm already seeing things I want to change now. The writing process never ends until it's finally published!

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Why I'm Changing People's Names in My Memoir


March 12, 2021: If a memoir is supposed to be your true life story, then why am I making a master list of fake names for mine? 

The answer is easy: to protect myself and others. Memoirs are the recollections of one person, but they involve other entities as well. And there are lots of reasons why writers change the names of people, places and businesses when they write a memoir, namely:

  • To protect the privacy of others
  • To avoid upsetting others
  • To avoid annoying individuals or businesses
  • To protect themselves from legal issues

If you've ever read a memoir, you know that the less flattering and most uncomfortable parts are among the most interesting. But in order to be as truthful as possible, you may need to use a bit of creativity so that no one's feelings are hurt. (If you don't believe me, take a look at the beginning of most every memoir; there's likely a paragraph noting that some names, dates and details have been changed.)

And so, with that in mind, I've spent my day at this coworking space creating a master list of name changes. I have to say it's been fun to make up new names — especially for companies, since I've always loved crazily corporate monikers that seem born from a crazed mind trying to invent a new language.

You'll be able to see the fruits of my name games in the coming months ... 

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