When Banged-Up Heart was published, I traveled the country to do book readings -- in book stores, private homes and libraries. Thanks to my enterprising publicist, I did TV and podcast interviews and sent my book to anyone who evinced an interest in reading and reviewing it. Encouraged by other authors, I entered non-fiction competitions and started winning awards. When offered a seat at the Homegrown Authors table at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, I jumped at the chance to fill it. Behind the scenes, I joined a small group of authors to talk about marketing. With their help, I honed my elevator pitch for face-to-face encounters with tourists as well as Santa Fe locals at the market. “Are you writing another book?” people often asked. “Not now,” I said. I couldn’t imagine getting off the promotion treadmill long enough to take a deep breath, let alone write. But the question rattled around in my brain: Would I, should I, could I write another book? There was the book I had planned to write when I retired – about wise women between the ages of 60 and 90. “That’s a whole other skill set,” editor Morgan Farley said. “You know how to write a memoir. Why not write another?”
At book readings, several people had asked, “Will you write about your Greek lover, who I mention fleetingly in Banged-Up Heart? “Oh, I don’t think so,” I’d said. If I were to write another memoir, I wanted to explore something that had befuddled and pained me since I turned eighteen. Last year, just about this time, I started writing Memoir #2, an exploration of the relationship with my troubled mother. And then one day this summer, I realized I was no longer writing about the relationship with my mother. I hadn’t forgotten her but in telling my story, I found myself in Greece. And now, aided by letters and journal entries, I’m writing about my Greek lover!
So, where am I with this? In an earlier post, I wrote about moving with my husband Frank from the village of Galisteo closer to Santa Fe in January. The move interrupted my writing big-time but while it slowed me, it didn’t stop me. As you probably know, Banged-Up Heart took six years -- three years to write a first draft and almost that long to rewrite. Having learned a lot from that experience, I’m on a much faster track. That said, I’m feeling the press of quickly passing time. Late this summer I decided to go full bore with Memoir #2, putting into it as much time and energy as I could muster. Homegrown Authors, the brainstorm of author Maxine Neely Davenport, was an energy-depleting labor of love I could no longer afford. Every Tuesday, beginning in May, I would wake at 5 a.m. in order to get to the market by 6:30 a.m. for the 7:00 a.m. opening. By the end of the day I had no energy to write. With a heavy heart, I “sold” my seat at the Homegrown Authors table to another local author so that I could put my Farmers Market energy into Memoir #2. Today I say NO more often than YES to daytime lunch dates and other non-book-related temptations but reserve evenings to be with Frank. I’m deep into my story but I have a ways to go. Please stay tuned.
I'm Shirley Melis. You may know me as Shirley M. Nagelschmidt, Shirley M. Bessey and now, Shirley M. Hirsch. Each reflects a particular phase of my life. Banged-Up Heart is a slice of my life's journey and in telling my story, I'm giving voice to my long silent "M" by reclaiming my maiden name, Shirley Melis.