Sisters, Selves, Survivors

I think I’ve come up with a starting structure for the book. I’ve been trying to figure out how to introduce my relationship with Edwina while incorporating the vital details that led up to it. For any other memoir hopefuls, by the way, I’ve come across an excellent book written by an agent who has sold a number of memoirs: Writing and Selling Your Memoir, by Paula Balzer. Her advice has helped immensely in thinking about the hook for my project, parameters for content (i.e., what to keep and what to discard), and possibilities for structure. Thanks, Paula, wherever you are!

So, I’m thinking of a three-part structure, each section including several chapters.

The first section, titled “Sisters.” will entail our meeting that first day at Church of the Reconciler and our growing friendship.

“Selves,” the second section, will dig into our pasts. Specifically, I want to trace the identities we formed prior to breast cancer–our families, social settings, experiences, and overall status in the world.

And finally, “Survivors” will be the forward-looking part of the book in which I’ll explore the shape our paths as survivors have taken. This section draws together “Sisters” and “Selves” in that every breast cancer survivor I know, myself included, pieces together a way of being once diagnosed that relies to a large extent on the survival strategies learned in other contexts, often over the course of many years. We owe those well-worn perspectives and tools for teaching us how to recognize and accommodate new challenges.


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