writing a book

Titles of books I’ve yet to write (& probably never will)

  1. Watching Dr. Phil in Sweden: Homesickness & the Power It Holds
  2. Texting back & other ways my lack of self control has failed me
  3. Being Single with Shingles
  4. Cry Baby: My First Three Years in School
  5. So Your Mom Has Brain Tumor…
  6. ‘Why Are You Here’ & other questions you’re asked while abroad
  7. Crying on the Ubahn: A Guide for Twenty-Somethings Living Abroad
  8. Carbs on Carbs on Carbs: A Cookbook
  9. Me, Myself, & Ice Cream: On having IBS in a Ice Cream -Crazed Society
  10. Imposter Syndrome: I SURVIVED
  11. Opinions About Pop Culture: I Have Them & Think You Should Agree
  12. When You Are Too Invested: A Royal Fan’s Confession
  13. From Tampons to Chocolate & Beyond: The Glamorous Life of a Copywriter
  14. I Know. I Speak Funny in German.
  15. Freedom, Free Refills, & Free Wifi: Why I love America
  16. 101 Ways to Ruin A Date
  17. Say It Like You Meme It. The Sixth Love Language: Memes
  18. Just Kick It: How to fix your appliances when you’re too lazy to call someone
  19. Why Worry? Because that’s how my brain was wired: A Memoir
  20. I Use My Fork As A Knife, & other ways I have offended people unknowingly
january 2014, life lesson, recommended reading, wise words, writing a book, writing from the heart

Nuala O’Faolain on the art of writing a memoir.

I hadn’t heard of the Irish writer Nuala O’Faolain until last November when I happened to grab her audio book Almost There by chance at the library. I’ve always wanted to write about so many personal things, more so than I share here, but have had numerable reservations about the whole thing. She addressed so many of the specific concerns I had about the writing, and she convinced me it is worth doing, if not for someone else, than for yourself. I’m beyond grateful that I was nudged in this book’s direction on the shelf a few months back. What a way life has about answering our unspoken questions. The cherry on top? After hours of listening to her read in her beautiful Irish accent, I feel my accent skills might just be improving.

Memoir is, surely, a genre that leaves a lot of blood on the tracks. Unless it is completely solipsistic, it involves reporting on other people who have real lives. And the autobiographer knows in advance that there is going to be an afterlife, when the people within the book read it. It is therefore, of all seemingly candid forms, the one most likely to be shaped by diplomatic necessities. If I were the biographer of an autobiographer, I’d be very interested to discover what they felt they had to clear out of the way before telling their story. 

Novels are complete when they are finished, but the memoir changes its own conclusion by virtue of being written…. I was not at all the same person , when I handed the manuscript over to the publisher, as I’d been when I began. A memoir may always be retrospective, but the past is not where its action takes place.

The words it chooses to describe relationships are another development in those relationships… that I do not understand other people as they understand themselves… I am one person and other people are themselves, and not what I have decided they are. I see the beginning of some kind of learning about how to be a member of the social world in these realizations connected with writing a memoir. And that sliver of clarity was part of a wider clarifying of the muddle in my head.  

…And then my friend said three words to me and the three words were words that changed my whole view of what I’d done. They were words that made me want to look after what I’d written as if it were part of me, like a child. She had leaned across and and said three words that couldn’t be more ordinary, but they had stopped me apologizing for what I had written and made me want to get the best life I could for it. And the three words were “Stand by it!”–and then when I’ve said the words, there’s been a gasp of understanding. They’re words of real power.  

It took decades to learn how to talk myself into believing, every time I went out to do a job, that I would not fail… 

I found journalism hard, like a relationship that is always hampered by misunderstandings… I was always made uneasy by the three-way relationship between the journalist, the situation written about, and the reader who believes that what he’s reading is somehow a neutral account of the situation. Perhaps a need for greater truthfulness built up within me. I know it was a liberation to turn to relative honesty of memoir and then, fiction. 

A lot of journalists I’ve known have been working on other kinds of writing and it’s assumed that this is because working with words is their field, but I think it’s because even the best journalism is emotionally unsatisfying. The conventions of journalism are oppressive to the honest self.  

…and writers are the nearest thing to the human community has to spokespeople. 
We’re in this together, this getting through our lives, as the fact that we are word-users shows.  

Where I wrote, that was where I made my best effort to be a thinking person, able to get older every day without being pulled down by apprehension, looking forward, or regret, looking back. 

Writing has brought me up from underground. I’ve been my own Orpheus. 

I am trying to find where to watch Nuala the documentary, but have failed miserably in finding a copy? Anyone happen to know where I might stream/buy it? 

blogging, life lesson, Munich II., summer 2013, write it out, writing a book

Please don’t mistake this for a ‘vague’ post, rather a ‘more to come’ post.

[Munich. Marienplatz August 18, 2013.]

These past few weeks I’ve been struggling with my balance of self and social media. (Using “self” in such a way makes me sound far more sound and in-tune with the world’s energy than I really am. But let’s go with it…) I love the idea of keeping in touch with a few taps of the keys and the double-click of the mouse. What a world to live in! People used to wait weeks, months to hear from their loved ones. For an impatient, riddled-with-anxiety person like me that sounds like torture. But this is the craziness that is this life: being a mere click away can cause fears, anxieties, and insecurities to rival message woes of time before. What’s worse than an unanswered message you ask?

An unanswered message with a “seen by recipient” written next to it. That’s what.

But I digress.

Writing a blog provides me with a whole new neuroses-filled grab-bag to explore.

Add to the Facebook status updates of engagements, babies, and new homes — mix-in blogs of impeccable, dreamy lifestyles, and a dash of Pinterest delusion and you, too, would find yourself a heap of mess on the floor, same song on repeat (this one in particular — Oh, God. Cue the tears even thinking about it) telling your roommates the blubbering they hear is your allergies, when your personal aspirations are yanked from your grasp.

I first thought to write things have been bad in the last month, but bad is such a lazy term and insinuates a plethora of situations that are not in, fact, happening.

I have my health.
I have my family.
I have my friends.
I am loved.

But I still am heartbroken over so much that has happened in the last month and I’m allowing myself to mourn what was loss: A lifelong dream.

And, when I’m feeling a bit less achy, a little less the-cool-hardwood-floor-against-my-cheeks-is-where-I-feel-safest, then I’ll be ready to share my losses. Get over my pride. And accept this situation for what it is.

I teeter on sharing such sorrows here on my blog, for fear that it will seem as though this is an ode to “woe is me,” however, I want this to be a place where I write my story, and my story is a bit shaky, at times cringe-worthy, full of love, and a whole lot of mistakes. But it’s also beautiful and full of blessings, and most of all, it’s a story in motion.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes sigh when reading other blogs and Facebook statuses, and I do hope their lives are as beautiful on the inside as they look on the outside. But mine’s a whole lot trickier than that and I can’t learn from anything if I pretend it’s anything but.

What I do know is that I want to tell my story — even with the heartbreak and cringe — in all its glory.

P.S. Since writing this post I have listened to the Big Bird solo more than 12 times. Thank you, Big Bird, for your inspiration.

“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought out principles rather than blind reflex. toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.”- Alex Karras

adventures, germany 2012, lets do this, munich 2012, my life, october 2012, writing a book, writing from the heart

Here we go.

[Munich, Oktober 2012]

After a few weeks, a whole lot of tears, and driving through tiny villages praying for a German equivalent of Best Buy, I found a computer–(so it’s all in German and the keyboard is a real booger… it’ll do.)–And boy oh boy does it feel good to feel my fingers tap the keys furiously, letting my stories pour themselves out into every ounce of allotted space. So much has happened, but there is still so much to share.

I’m writing a book. Does that sound as pretentiously rude to you as it does to me? Ugh. I hate that. But it’s true. And I’m doing it because, well, why not?

Earlier this week, my dear friend Lauren said that I was born a storyteller. And honestly, I’m starting to think it’s true. Because after my sauna drama–oh, it’s as good as it sounds. Trust me.–and making a tram of Germans laugh at something I said, (You guys, that’s a feat. They’re a tough audience.) I’ve gotta start passing these tales on. God has to be throwing them my direction for someone’s entertainment.

Sometimes my life is like a Lifetime Channel television series. Not NBC or CBS, or even Disney. No, it’s like a Lifetime Channel series.Yeah, exactly.

But we all love Lifetime, right? …

Oh, it feels so good to be back. 
I’ve missed this.
I’ve missed you.

Let’s do this.