Publish date:

Editing a Life

Today's guest post is by Darrelyn Saloom, a monthly regular here at NO RULES. You can read more of her guest posts here, or follow her on Twitter.

Image placeholder title


An odd thing happened to me when I finished collaborating on a memoir. I spent four years and two days (obsessively at times) writing, revising, and editing a manuscript. As soon as I typed the last line, I pushed away from the keyboard and began to edit my life.

The tiny farmhouse my husband and I raised three sons and lived in for fourteen years became vacant. We had continued to harvest the land but rented the house. Now it sat empty. We missed the old homestead and decided to renovate and turn it into a place to gather with family and friends.

I filled the house with a mishmash of beloved things: embroidered curtains, iron beds, vintage quilts, new sheets, Franciscan plates, a farm table, rickety old chairs, tin lamps, a painted desk, and a mahogany bookcase. Some items I ordered on eBay, but mostly I scoured the back roads of Louisiana for antiques.

When the interior was nearly complete, I spent a night alone seeped in
memories. My husband stayed in what we now call “the big house” with the
cat and the dog. I slept in an iron captain’s bed and awoke to thunder
and a loud, drumming rain on the tin roof.

I flung open the curtains and hopped back in bed. I called my husband
and told him I never wanted to leave, that I yearned to sell the
3,000-square-foot house in the suburbs and move back to the
900-square-foot house on the farm. It didn’t take him long to agree. He
missed slinging hay and raking out stalls.

I’m not sure what has come over me. I’m selling most of my things or
giving them away. I only use about one third of what is stuffed in my
closets anyway. We are keeping the photos, family mementos, the clothing
we need, my husband’s guitars and amplifiers, our laptops and books.

As far as the rest of the stuff, I’m going to go through it the same way
I did every sentence of the manuscript—pluck out unnecessary items like
words. Delete the things that weigh down my life and keep me from
turning the page. It seems editing a life is not so different from
editing a book.

Darrelyn is collaborating with Deirdre Gogarty on a memoir. Read more about their project here.

Image placeholder title
Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 588

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a last poem.

The Differences in Writing a Memoir vs. a Novel

The Differences in Writing a Memoir vs. a Novel

Where fiction writing is about concealing emotional truth for interpretation, memoir is about exposing it for what it is. Writer Jenna Blum discusses the differences she experienced in writing a memoir vs. a novel.

17 Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

17 Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

When choosing your publishing journey, it's important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks in order to make the right decision for you and your work. Author Rick Lauber lays out 17 pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

Spooky Season

Scary Season

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write something that has to do with the scary season!

Parker, 10:26

Christopher Parker: On Learning to Let Go in the Publishing Process

Author Christopher Parker discusses how he celebrated small victories in writing his debut novel, The Lighthouse.


Writer's Digest November/December 2021 Cover Reveal

Revealing the November/December 2021 issue of Writer's Digest: Magical Writing. Featuring advice from R.F. Kuang, Alix E. Harrow, Maggie Stiefvater, Tobias Buckell, Ran Walker, and many more.

The Lane Report: Market Spotlight

The Lane Report: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at The Lane Report, the business publication of Kentucky.

Exercise vs. Exorcise (Grammar Rules)

Exercise vs. Exorcise (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between exercise and exorcise with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Your Story #115

Your Story #115

Write a short story of 650 words or fewer based on the photo prompt. You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.