Years ago, an old friend of mine said to me in her inimitable Southern drawl: "I needed to be hit over the head with a 2x4 to get the message."
As a native New Yorker and someone who barely knew what a 2x4 was, those weren't words I would have used, but I knew what she meant.
I've been known to ignore signs from the universe for umm ... decades?!
Signs that I was gay (really, oh so gay).
That I was a writer.
That I could use my natural gifts as an editor to work with other writers.
Instead, I typically chose the safer, easier-in-the-moment path.
In my 50s, I finally listened to the signs from the universe, which led me to the very different life I am leading today—as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a first-time dog parent (!), the wife of Wendy, and a book coach dedicated to helping queer folx raise their voices,...
Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of seeing—and hearing!—Adele in concert during her Las Vegas residency.
I had some issues with Las Vegas itself, but that's a story for another day.
The show was intimate, authentic, and spectacular all at once.
Just over a year earlier, Adele had done the unspeakable: she postponed her residency less than 24 hours before the first show.
Calling it the worst moment in her career by far, she agonized over the decision but ultimately made the call because "There was just no soul in it," she said. "The stage setup wasn't right. It was very disconnected from me and my band, and it lacked intimacy."
It takes a great deal of integrity to make that kind of gutsy decision as an artist. As a creative. As a human.
Author and speaker Glennon Doyle made a similarly gutsy decision in 2016, on the eve of the publication of Love Warrior, her memoir about the redemption of her marriage to her husband Craig.
I smiled earlier this month when my business coach asked a fill-in-the-blank question during a goal-setting workshop:
Really? My memoir, GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES, 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’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.
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...
Monday morning I sent the final draft of GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES to my editors at the University of Wisconsin Press!
And ever since, I've been sitting with all the feels.
I'm thrilled. Terrified. Proud of myself for being brave enough to tell my story. Happy I didn't give up when the rejections piled up and it seemed like I would never get clear on what my story was really "about."
The final edits were "interesting" to say the least. As I went through my manuscript ONE LAST TIME (okay, who am I kidding? THREE LAST TIMES), several important insights emerged.
1. Trust your gut
There were sentences, phrases, and even words that bothered me every time I reviewed my draft. Sometimes it was because the text was awkwardly written or the words did not communicate exactly what I wanted to say.
I wondered if the detail was necessary or gratuitous—was this a "darling" I needed to chop or was it important to the story? If I was...
When I ask my book coaching clients WHY they want to write their story, they typically say something like:
"I want to write the book I wish I had when I was going through X."
I get that.
When I was coming out, I was desperate to read stories of other women who came to terms with their sexuality later in life and how they had navigated that life-altering journey.
Did they stay in or leave their marriages? Could they find a way to live with their longings and not act on them? Was there any path to happiness or was their only path full of pain?
What did they do when everything they thought they knew about themselves was upended?
I wanted to know that it was possible to get to the other side of the bombshell that had exploded in my marriage.
That is, I believe, why we read memoir. Sure, there's the thrill of reading a page-turner, but there's nothing quite like that moment when you feel an author is inside your head, expressing feelings you...
In 1978, I was a high school senior and an exchange student living in Knutsford England, and I wrote a personal essay for my hometown paper about my study abroad experience.
My first byline!
But it wasn’t until the Southampton Writers Conference in 2013, when I took the plunge and applied for Mary Karr’s memoir workshop that I finally—publicly—declared “I’m a writer.”
They don't call me a late-in-lifer for nothing!
When I soaked in Mary Karr’s wisdom as I sat around the table with 12 other writers, many of whom were much more accomplished than me, I realized how much I didn’t know AND I knew that I was in the right place.
The learning curve would be steep and I would get there someday. And someday has happened.
More details to come!
Now that I work with...
I attended my first HippoCamp four years ago. Four years that have gone by in a flash and at the same time feel like a lifetime ago.
Is that what time feels like for dogs? I've often wondered, being a new-ish dog mom to Lucy, my 9 lb. chihuahua mix. But I digress ...
When I walked into the Lancaster Marriott for HippoCamp 2018, I was just on the other side of a couple of very difficult years navigating coming out as LGBTQ+ and a divorce resulting from that coming out decision.
I had been furiously writing since coming out, trying to make sense of the life-changing experience I was going through. What was it really about? Why had I made the choices I'd made? Why would anyone care about my story?
Insert sad face.
If you’ve read my latest newsletters or you follow me on social media, you know that I had an essay go viral on today.com.
Haven’t read it yet? Here it is!
What a high that was to have that piece published and to hear that it was one of the site's most viewed posts that week.
And then the comments by members of the general public rolled in…
Some were lovely:
“This is a beautiful story. I applaud her!”
“Love the Slinky story!”
Some were in the vein of: “I’m not a lesbian and I drive a Subaru.”
Are there really that many people incapable of understanding irony or taking a joke?
Or as one commenter wrote: “The number of y’all declaring your heterosexuality because of an inside joke in the LGBTQ community is both...
I am so sorry for the delay in responding to you! But I love your essay and I’d be happy to publish this on TODAY.com.
Have you already placed it elsewhere? Please let me know if it’s still available.
"Holy shit!" I screamed at my sister from the passenger seat of the car.
The editor emailed two days later to say that my essay had been one of their top performing pieces all week, with over 250,000 views.
I won't deny it: the 15 minutes of fame have been a blast.
Subaru has reached out—as has a reality TV producer! Don't worry, I'm not planning to be the next Real Housewife, although the new face of Subaru might not be a bad gig.
But more important than the 15 minutes of fame is that I've taken my writing to a new level. I'm more confident. I'm less afraid of putting...
Tools of the Trade:
Dropbox or Google Drive? Or some other organizational system?
What matters most is you have a cloud-based system to contain and organize your writing. Otherwise you risk wasting hours of precious time hunting down drafts and bits and pieces of writing. Set up a folder and subfolder system with categories that make sense to you.
Factors to consider:
What’s your favorite...
Writers go on a hero’s journey when they make the decision to get their story out of their heads and onto the page.
Queer writers go on a Queero’s Journey!
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