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Sneaking a Peek into Our Stories

In the beginning of July, our Memoir Incubator co-leader announced we’d be sharing a 500-word excerpt of our memoirs in progress. She told us to post the excerpts on Slack and then we’d read them aloud during the next class. My exact response to this news: “This is terrifying!” Other responses were similar: “Eek! This is real!” and “throw-up emoji.”

Up to this point, we hadn’t shared anything. We have a general idea of each other’s memoir topic, but we hadn’t read each other’s words yet. So although we were terrified, we were also excited to get a memoir sneak peek, like a movie trailer. We called it the “Tiny Manuscript Share.”

I hemmed and hawed over which excerpt to choose. In the end, with an apology to my cohorts, I posted 700 words from a pivotal moment in my memoir. On the evening of our class, I was nervous to share but excited to hear others’ stories. My reading went well. The comments I received from my cohorts gave me the boost I needed to proceed on with my work in progress. I was very impressed with everyone else’s shares. Even at only 500 words, I was brought into each scene through vivid details and realistic dialogue.

So after our collective “oh sh*t” reaction to sharing our work, our new collective feeling was “We’ve got this! Keep writing, writers!” Which we better do, because our 50,000-plus-word manuscripts are due on September 9th. “Throw up emoji.”

Elizabeth (Liz) Jannuzzi, Project Write Now’s operations and communications manager is a mother and writer living in New Jersey. Her work has been featured in Pangyrus, Cagibi, and Entropy. She is currently enrolled in book inc’s Memoir Incubator where she is working on a memoir about recovery.