Jun 27, 2016 | Written by Patricia Murphy

Djerassi, The Memoir

My main goal for my time at Djerassi was simple: get the memoir I’ve been working on to a point where I am ready to send it out. I have been working on it for a long time; so long, in fact, that my life keeps changing and sometimes when I go back to revise it there are sections that no longer make sense in the narrative. With the gift of 28 days, I decided I wanted to: cut the memoir from 95K words to 75K, remove some repetitive narration, and create a new structure.

View from My Studio

To create a new structure, I had to first work on the timeline that I’ve been trying to recreate for about 10 years now. I have been gathering a list of events for each month of every year since my grandparents were born, to try to piece together the timeframe of the implosion (okay, explosion) of my nuclear family. So I spent a good deal of time studying documents to verify these events.


Then I wrote two brand new first chapters.

Then I cut three existing chapters.

Then I worked on patching holes in chapters 3-7.

In short, I got a WHOLE LOT accomplished.

I still have perhaps 40 more working hours to add a bit more glue, including some details I didn’t have access to while I was away (my mother’s CIA and FBI files).