I completed my week in Amherst, MA where I wanted to go through every edit I’d received on my memoir manuscript, make the adjustments–that took the first five days–then read the entire book out loud into my recording device. Seven hours and 40 minutes of dictation later, it’s done!

But wait! That’s not all! Yes, Virginia (mixing metaphors here), there is another step to take. My plan is to listen to each chapter and create a large sheet / story/timeline with these colored post-it notes on it to track the entry of each character, scene, memorable quote and plot line.

The idea for the color coding is that when I look at the 12 chapters plus epilogue with all the colors attached, it resembles a rich tapestry with at least one strong through line that goes across the entire story.

Being a visual artist first, this is a tool I’m going to employ to help me see in front of me what I’m unable to see over the depth of 268 pages. I also realize that with each re-reading of my story, its message and focus is becoming more finely tuned.

In the National Speakers Association they always said that you didn’t really own your keynote until you’d delivered it at least 50 times. I resented hearing that as a novice, but as someone who has delivered my keynote easily that many times and more, I recognize the wisdom in it. I’m curious to know if I need to read my story an equivalent number of times to similarly own its message.

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