Brenda Nakamoto of Davis didn’t set out to write an entire book when she penned her first essays on her life on her parents’ peach farm several years ago.
“I was just pushing it as far as I could,” she said.
It was only after she attended a writing workshop that she realized her words could turn into a full memoir.
“I joined writers’ workshops,” Nakamoto said. “One had us actually pretending we were authors, presenting our ‘books.’ ”
Nakamoto wrote the majority of the essays in the book between 2005 and 2008. After deciding to turn them into a full memoir, she began searching for a publisher by looking for companies that had published books similar to hers.
Though she initially received many rejection letters, Nakamoto wrote back and asked them to critique her work. She took the advice to heart and worked on the book for another year.
When the Sacramento Poetry Center invited poets to submit their first books to be considered for publication, Nakamoto emailed to ask if she could submit her memoir, because many considered the prose poetic. Though the answer was no, Brad Buchannan told her about his publishing company, Roan Press, and suggested that she submit there.
The memoir was accepted, and Nakamoto and Roan Press began working to produce the book.
After she saw the completed product, “I was really impressed,” Nakamoto said. “I realized how much of a team effort publishing is. The layout editor did a fantastic job, and Kate Washington (of Roan Press) scanned in family photos and my own artwork.
“I thought, ‘Wow, this is really a family treasure,'” Nakamoto said. “It really made it precious to me.”
The memoir is split into four parts, modeling the seasons: summer, autumn, winter and spring. Rather than telling her story in a continuous narrative, Nakamoto chooses instead to complete a portrait of her past using short essays, each focusing on a different memory or feeling.
The content ranges from her recollections of watching workers on her parents’ peach farm near Yuba City to musings on mochi, the Japanese glutinous rice cake.
“I didn’t intentionally write the book into seasons from the get-go,” Nakamoto said. “But the essays seemed to pattern the seasons in my life — spring was a rebirth, for example — and I grasped onto that. The book mirrored my life.”
Nakamoto’s family was “pretty excited,” she said. “I don’t think they believed it could actually happen.”
Nakamoto intends to continue writing. Projects include creative nonfiction and research into the Japanese internment during World War II, as well as “dabbling in fiction, just to grow as a writer.”
She will present her memoir from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St. in downtown Davis. She’ll read a passage from the book and answer visitors’ questions.
— Reach Chloe Kim at [email protected]