What Brave Looks Like For a Memoir Writer

I smiled earlier this month when my business coach asked a fill-in-the-blank question during a goal-setting workshop:

I wish I was brave enough to _________.

Really? My memoir, THE ONLY WAY THROUGH IS OUT, is all about breaking free from a play-it-safe and small life. Do I have to keep being brave? Wasn't leaving everything I knew behind and starting over in my mid-50s brave enough?

Yes, that's a photo of my condo on move-in day five years ago.

But as I held a pen in my hand, the answer came quickly:

I wish I was brave enough to put myself out there more.

I’m going to have to put it out there soon—my coming out later-in-life memoir will be published in late Fall 2023 or early Winter 2024.

It feels so VULNERABLE. So visible. So public.

Truth bomb: Writing your personal story is an act of bravery.

This is especially true for people in the LGBTQ+ community who've been judged and shamed for simply being who they are.

These writers are brave souls who know there are readers out there who need to hear their stories—whose very lives may depend on hearing their stories.

Here's what brave looks like for a memoir writer:

  • Tearing your draft apart when you've written a safe book.
  • Becoming more playful, more reflective.
  • Experimenting with form.
  • Breaking free from pure chronology.
  • Writing the whole big messy story, not a sanitized version of the truth.

Saying "I've done my best and now it’s time to let go of my manuscript”—I just did that and it was scary as f**k. It can be just as scary to finish a book as it is to start one. 

Being brave means being afraid and doing it anyway.

As a memoir writer, I am afraid:

  • To expose myself.
  • Of what people will think of me.
  • Of hurting others. 
  • Of being criticized.

And I am brave because I'm willing to:

  • Share vulnerably.
  • Take action regardless of what people think of me.
  • Do my best to write both truthfully and compassionately.
  • Bear the cost of judgment and criticism because my story matters.

Writing your story, even when you're afraid, may be the bravest thing you ever do.


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