Journal

Journal

book inc  –  journal  –  Time To Put the Pedal to the Metal With My Memoir

Time To Put the Pedal to the Metal With My Memoir

After her defeat in a suburban mom drag race, memoirist Elizabeth Jannuzzi reflects on self-doubt and the final push to overcome resistance while querying agents for her debut memoir "Sober Mom."

By Elizabeth Jannuzzi

March 28, 2024

Due to an increase in licensed drivers in my household, young adults who have jobs and lives, my husband and I were forced to acquire new cars, and we opted for Electric Vehicles (EV). The thing about EVs that I didn’t know until I drove one is that they are f-a-s-t! Like super zippy. In fact, when my husband was car shopping, an actual real-life professional race car driver took him for a spin in the Rivian to show him what it could do.

The fact that these cars are fast is not a selling point for me. I mean, with a house full of reckless teenagers, I’d prefer something slow and steady. But I must admit having the quick response has been helpful in some tricky situations, like when you are in a tight spot on the highway that you need to maneuver out of quickly.

The other day, while driving my surly teen daughter to work, I found myself at a stop light on a road with two lanes. I was in one lane in my Volkswagen ID4, and a Range Rover was in the other. On the other side of the intersection that we’d both pass through, the two lanes merge into one. And I don’t know what came over me—maybe I was trying to break my daughter’s steely silence—but I said to her, “Watch me smoke this car.” When the light turned green, I gunned it to leave that Range Rover in my EV VW’s dust.

Except …

Much to my surprise, the Range Rover accepted my invitation to a drag race. My daughter reported that it was another mom, and she turned and smiled as she put the pedal to the metal. “Yikes,” I thought and applied some more pressure on the accelerator, assuming my zippy car would pull ahead easily. But the Range Rover mom decided to go for it as well. We were neck and neck as we vied for the one lane ahead.

And then, I came to my senses and realized I was setting a horrible example for my daughter, and I gave up. I backed off and let the Range Rover pull ahead.

It was safer for me to stop racing, I know, but the weird thing is, for days afterward, I kept replaying the scene in my head and getting upset at myself for losing. I shared the suburban mom drag race story with my husband. Knowing what the EV car could do, he said, “If you had really gunned, you would have won.”

Dammit! I know! Why did I give up? Why didn’t I have confidence in the car? In myself? I was so disappointed I’d given up right at the end. I was a quitter. 

Then, I remembered something Steven Pressfield said in his book The War of Art.  Resistance is always strongest at the finish line.

“The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Resistance knows we’re about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got.” 

I’m at the finish line with my debut memoir, “Sober Mom.” Well, that’s probably not true, but I’m nearing the end. I wrote the first draft in the Memoir Incubator in 2022, revised it in the Book Revision Lab in 2023, and now I’m enrolled in the Book Submission Lab, polishing my submission package in order to query agents. And let me tell you,  I’ve been taking my foot off the accelerator. Here are just a few ways I’ve been sabotaging myself:  

  • I’ve started collaborating with a friend to write short stories. Fiction what? This project takes writing time and head space away from my memoir.
  • I’ve half convinced myself that “Sober Mom” is just a “practice” memoir. The one I’m currently writing this year will be the “official” one.
  • I’ve told myself the market is saturated with stories of alcoholic women getting sober. No one needs another recovery story. No one will want mine. 

I set a goal to query 50 agents, and next month, I will meet with my class to report on my progress. I’m at the stoplight, and there’s a Range Rover next to me. It’s time to push down hard on the accelerator. This time, I’m not quitting!  

Elizabeth Jannuzzi

Elizabeth Jannuzzi, book inc's program manager, is a mother and writer living in New Jersey. Her work has been featured in The Rumpus, The Brevity Blog, , and HerStry. She is currently working on a memoir about recovery.

Elizabeth Jannuzzi, book inc's program manager, is a mother and writer living in New Jersey. Her work has been featured in The Rumpus, The Brevity Blog, , and HerStry. She is currently working on a memoir about recovery.