I Tried to Publish a Memoir at 16; Here’s How it Went

I started writing a memoir at 16. I thought it seemed like a great idea, and I think I was right.

By Hazel J. Hall
First draft: 4/2/2020 to 4/26/2020
Second draft: 4/26/2020 to 3/1/2021
While technically enlisted here, the third draft was completed in mid-June of 2021.

At one point over the past two years, I was describing my wish to write a memoir to someone, and they thought it was a bit silly that someone so young could write about their life. But I feel like, as a disabled teenager dealing with severe mental illness and self-hatred, I had a lot to talk about.

My book started as a result of quarantine and ended as an 82,000 word piece.

I have ADHD, and, while commonly described as a lack of attention, would be better known as having too much. You focus on one thing and that’s all you can focus on (and commonly, you don’t get to pick what you’re focused on!).

This explains why the miracle book was finished in just 24 days, with one or two chapters written every single day. It also helped that all school had moved online at this point, as my typing is significantly faster than my handwriting. Writing is a great school past-time for me. I find that when school moves too slow, I can always fall into a fantastic story (and I haven’t been caught… yet)!

An early draft photo of my childhood cat.

I started writing the memoir as a way to vent about my life. I think it is common for many of us to have unspoken demons that haunt us, but there is an especially great pain that comes from not being able to discuss your hurt with others, and that was something I dealt with.

As quarantine started, I felt great fear as a disabled teenager. Many people promised that I, as someone so young, would be completely safe from the afflictions of COVID. And yet, people like me were dying.

When I complained about this fears, I was often mocked. So, I started keeping my fear to myself. And that pain doesn’t go away. It just gets bottled up.

While the story was so ironically rooted in my life, it was also the escapism I needed to get through 2020 while simultaneously making peace with the person that I used to be.

At 16, I started writing the book as a way to describe my experiences because I just felt so lost in a world of non-diabetics and abled people. I hated who I was and I wanted to write something to work through that.

And by the end of my story, I had a different appreciation for who I was. Suddenly, I was proud of the fact that I had gone through everything in my life and had come out on the other side.

The art of memoir is shouldn’t always be used for theraputic purposes, I know this, but I also think that it is so much more powerful when the reader heals with you.

If a story you wrote meant something to you, it will mean something to someone else, that’s just a fact. And if it can change the life of just one person, won’t it have been worth it?

I’ve been working on this memoir for months, and I sit here writing this blog post, almost in the style of a reflection for the books we read in school, ready to start a new chapter. I’ve been working for such a long time, but I’m excited to keep pushing forward.

Now, I’m sending letters to agents, waiting to see what is to come of my story.

While I’m hoping that my memoir gets published, I also understand the absurdity of my situation. Having little social media prescense and credentials to balance out the risk of my work, I am a strange choice for a client.

But I have a reached a point with my writing and with myself which I never could have reached without going through the journey of this story, and I don’t regret writing it, even if it never gets published.

Onto greater things!

Photo reads: this way and that way on a sign.
Another early draft photo, heavily edited but cut from the story because I could never get it as good as I would enjoy (needed some touch-up around the ‘That Way’!)

Follow my blog for more information about my upcoming stories and to also learn about my experiences as a disabled person. Any support is greatly appreciated!

3 responses to “I Tried to Publish a Memoir at 16; Here’s How it Went”

  1. Oh, but I think you’re well on your way to greater things! I found you very interesting and wanted to look back on your earlier writings. To my surprise it’s only been a short while. I had expected it to have been much longer as well as you write. Never have a concern, you have a real talent! …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for your kindness! That’s so sweet. I’m glad to hear that you’ve been enjoying my writings. I hope they bring something valuable to you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re so very welcome, Hazel! I look forward to all of your future postings with anticipation. There’s something to value and take away in all of them for myself. Be well! …

    Liked by 1 person

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