When my memoir came out, I stopped sleeping. Well, I stopped for about a month before it came out, and then luckily it came out sooner than I expected so maybe that shortened the Epic Time of Unsleeping, overall?
It felt endless, so I guess it doesn’t matter how long it actually was.
I was excited about the book, and proud too. I had always wanted to be a writer, to publish a book, to stop lolling around whining about my DREAMS and actually do something about them and I did, I did that. I wrote an entire book and found an agent and sold it to a wonderful publisher and I was so so excited and thrilled and feeling lucky and good.
And all of that excitement, I think, that long road from idea to manuscript to book-in-the-world, obscured that last bit. That the book was going to exist outside my head. It would be something that people could pick up, and read, and have opinions about.
It is probably pretty common, that bone-deep urge to stand over someone who’s reading something you wrote so you can explain to them what everything means and why you said X and what Y means and look how funny that joke is and here is the opinion you should have about it (even if in real life you would actually hand someone your manuscript AND FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE).
With a memoir, it felt like that times ALL OF IT AND EVERYTHING. I don’t have just my writing and my careful selection of just the right word as if it were carefully arranged fruit on a decorative plate. It was my life there. Me. All the mess of me, and the truth of me, and the stupid things I had done and thought and the decisions I made. Just sent out into the world defenseless.
People would pick up the book and inevitably not just have opinions about the writing but ABOUT MY SOUL. Or my reasonable approximation thereof.
What it boils down to: Publishing a memoir makes you feel insanely, madly, horribly, painfully vulnerable. It is a little bit terrifying. It is completely strange. It’s kind of exhilarating. And if you don’t just say, you know what screw this I have no control over what people think let’s just let go and let Goethe, you go crazy.
So I went a little crazy for awhile.
I got better, though.
But this feels very similar, here waiting for my episode of In Deep Shift to happen. It was an amazing experience, strange and wonderful and crazy and enlightening and it changed me completely. That week of filming shook me awake and slapped me around and pushed me back into my life. I gained a tremendous amount of bravery and hope.
I moved forward after years of stagnation, trying to figure out what was next. I moved to Madison, and I found the courage to pitch a YA novel that tackles the bullshit politics of weight and happiness and self esteem and I started to figure out how I could be a writer, all the time full time and it was good.
And Jonas filmed the awkward, halting start of that. Tears and terror and dopeyness and reluctance. He put his hand between my shoulder blades and kept gently propelling me forward. He helped me recognize the incredible support network I had around me; he helped me find faith in the possibility that I could be a support for myself, too.
It’s all on tape, and I feel so incredibly vulnerable and completely exposed and a little scared. Here I am again, laying it all out to be picked over.
But I’m braver now, and a little stronger and a lot smarter and I’m pretty proud of myself for saying yes to the experience and yes to the opportunity to talk about the bullshit fairytale of weight loss and the incredible struggle to find happiness and solidity in your own skin. I wrote the memoir because I wanted to tell people they weren’t alone, tackling body image issues and anxiety and unhappiness and I did this episode for the same reason and I’m scared to be so vulnerable but I think, I think it might be worth it.
I’ve been sleeping okay.