If you've ever wondered what it takes to be an author, this is the blog post for you. Not so much because I know what it takes to be an author, but because today I'm putting the spotlight on Nina Amir, author of The Author Training Manual. Not only does she share a little about herself here, but she also gives some insight into the "author attitude". So, settle in and learn more about Nina Amir and her book The Author Training Manual...you can even enter to win a free copy!
Tell me how you came to be a writer:
I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I used to write stories about horses! And in middle school and high school, as well as into adulthood, I kept a journal. In high school I wrote short stories and had dreams of becoming a novelist, but I went to college to become a magazine journalist because I thought I would have a higher likelihood of earning a living that way.
So, I became a magazine journalist as well as a magazine editor. That lead me later to editing books and then to writing books.
What is one of your biggest challenges in writing?
Having too many ideas and not enough time to produce all the work right NOW. I have a list of 14 books still to come, and not all of them are in the same subject area! There is a plan; my agent and I created it. But I’d like to just sit and write all day, just like most writers. Instead, much of my day is spent handling email, dealing with business-related matters, blogging (which is writing but would fall into the promotion/business category), teaching, and handling the details of my online business and speaking business. I write quickly. I’m impatient to get the work done. Not all of it should be written at this moment. I need to produce it in a logical manner and build platform for some of it. I get frustrated…
What kind of writing do you enjoy reading?
Nonfiction in the areas of spirituality, metaphysics, body-mind-spirit, and personal development. I’m very woo woo. I do like fiction, but I rarely have time for it; I think of it as an indulgence…a treat. I tend to read things that help me do a better job of my job or help me grow as a person and fulfill my potential.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Hah! If I were to be very honest, I would have to say I work or write all the time. When I do take time off, I cycle. I walk on the beach with my husband. I walk on the road near my home, which is in the Santa Cruz Mountains and surrounded by Redwood Trees. I try to keep up with my wild property, which means pulling weeds and cutting things down. Or I travel to the opposite coast to see my daughter, mother and sister or to Germany to see my son.
How would you describe your writing style and what are you working on now?
I’m not sure anyone has ever asked me that before… I guess I’d say my writing style is practical and matter of fact. It isn’t flowery or literary. It’s down and dirty and tell-it-like it is. It’s based on my experience and meant to teach and inform and inspire at the same time. On the other hand, it can be very personal and authentic.
I’m working on one project that I can’t mention. Sorry…It’s something that I have to finish by the end of October and involves blogging.
I am working on three e-books, one of which is mentioned in The Author Training Manual and was supposed to be published already (and will be very soon). It’s called The Nonfiction Book Proposal Demystified. I have another that will be released later this year on building a business around your book and one more on building a better blog that also will be released this year or early in 2015.
Additionally…if that was not enough…I have two book proposals I’m starting on for writing-related books. I hope to get around to a personal development or practical spirituality book or e-book in the not-too-distant future as well.
Your bio refers to you as “Inspiration to Creation Coach” –tell us how this title found you.
I’m not sure that I’d say it found me. I worked at creating it to a great extent. I really needed a brand. And had two areas in which I was working—I had two sites. I’m just now combining them into one under NinaAmir.com. One was Copywrightcommunications.com and the other was Purespiritcreations.com. So I was doing writing, publishing and blogging in one area, and I had two or three blogs about this as well. Then I had the other site and one blog related to personal development and growth, practical spirituality, metaphysics and things like that. I felt a bit like a split personality.
I wanted to create a brand that brought all of this together. I realized that in both areas I was helping people create things. On one side, I was helping my clients create books, blogs, and articles—writing products. On the other side, I was helping my clients create all types of things related to their dreams, desires, goals, and potential. I asked everyone I worked with and who read my blogs what I did for them; they all said that in one way or another I inspired them. (Interestingly, even How to Blog a Book inspires people, in this case to blog and to blog books.)
So, I thought about it and realized that the things I do are not that different no matter what area I work in. I inspire creation. I move people from inspiration to creation by helping them combine their passion and their purpose. And that’s how I became the Inspiration to Creation Coach.
You offer author/creative coaching and coaching on spirituality and personal growth –how did you get into such diverse topics?
As I said, my education and professional experience lies in writing and publishing. My passion and purpose lies in spiritually and personal growth or development. I actually do a bit of both on the writing and publishing end. And many of my inspired results clients are writers. But it’s because of my interest in personal growth that I do this work…and my interest in spirituality. I’m a trained Voice Dialogue facilitator, a trained re-birther, know a variety of clearing exercises, and I even used to read Tarot cards!
Your book, The Author’s Training Manual, is rated 4.5 stars on Amazon. What sets it apart from other books on writing?
The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively, is the only book on the market that offers aspiring authors a process to help them produce marketable book ideas—ones that sell. The exercises it contains train them to become successful authors by helping them develop an Author Attitude, produce a business plan for their books and evaluate themselves and their ideas through the same lens used by agents and acquisitions editors. Whether they are aspiring or published authors, write fiction or nonfiction, plan to self-publish or traditionally publish, be all writers need a publishing professional’s tools and skills to determine if a book idea is a viable product in a target market. This book trains them to have these skills.
How did you go from being an “aspiring writer” to an “actual author”?
I used the process described in The Author Training Manual. Plus, I spent 10 years+ learning everything I could about the publishing industry. I attended 8 years of writing conferences. I interviewed publishing professionals. I immersed myself in the publishing industry and learned from experts. I became an expert on the publishing industry.
I developed what I call an Author Attitude. I became willing, optimistic, objective, and tenacious. I refused to fail. And I wrapped my arms around everything it takes to succeed, loving it all because, no matter what the task, it took me one step closer to my goal: successful authorship.
You’re involved in so many things –multiple blogs, coaching, writing your own books…how do you keep up with it all?
I used to do it all myself, and I still do most of it. I now have two virtual assistants who help with my newsletters and some of my blog work, but not the writing. I have a developer who helps with some of my website work.
Beyond that, it’s all me. That means I work long, long hours. I’ve always done this, but now my kids are out of the house and I have the time. My husband works very long hours as well, so this isn’t a problem. You will find me at my desk by 8 or 8:30 at the latest (sometimes by 7:30) in the morning. And I usually don’t leave my home-office until 8 p.m. when my husband comes home for dinner. I often work late into the night if I have deadlines.
I guess you could call me a workaholic, but I really love what I do. That said, I’m trying to find more balance. That’s why I’ve hired VAs. I would like to have more free time, but I’m rarely unhappy. I just would like to be writing more and handling less details, and that’s the goal for this year.
You stand there and judge her. Not with what you say to her, but with what you don’t say. You don’t ask about her day. You don’t compliment her outfit. Never do you smile, genuinely smile, at what she has to say. But you wouldn’t do that, would you? Judge her outright.
Of course not. How can you? You don’t know her. Your time together isn’t spent getting to know her as much as it is spent going on and on about yourself. What you like. How much money you have. Everything you bought last week or where you went or what you did.
I had a bad day, she says. And her words are washed away by the sound of the wind on the cusp of your latest mantra all. About. You. You’ll never believe what happened to me, she shouts. And her words are washed away by the sound of the wind on the cusp of the latest mantra all. About. You.
Because that’s how it always is. It’s always all. About. You. And you don’t even know who she is.
The feel of the sting of your words as you dismiss her pummels her skin until it seeps beneath her pores. Your words run deep and she reads between the lines. In your eyes, she means nothing. She’s not good enough. Not funny enough. Not pretty enough. She’s not enough.
Before long she stops talking. She spends more time thinking. She thinks her stories aren’t funny. She thinks her day’s events don’t matter. They didn’t to you, why should they matter to her? She doubts her smile, her looks, and her style. And then it happens.
She makes changes. Subtle at first, but changes just the same. First one and then another. No longer does she smile or talk about her day. Her thoughts are consumed about how you must be better than she. Satisfaction and contentment about her life and her being wax and wane until resentment grows and her thoughts are consumed with how small her world really is.
Because that’s how it always is. It’s always all. About. You. And now she doesn’t even know who she is.
She laughs at what you deem funny. She wears what you approve of. Her mannerisms and behavior and plans are shrouded in your personality. How she used to be and how she used to live is empty now. What you say goes and gone she is.
Gone is the woman who felt confidence once. Gone is the woman who knew who she was and knew what she wanted in life. Gone is the smile and the spark and the freedom to be who she once knew she was.
Because that’s how it always is. It’s always all. About. You. And no one even knows who she is.
Until the day comes when she can’t take it anymore. She tires of the cover ups, the falsehood, and the lies. She misses her quirks and her talents and her secrets. What she’s doing now…it doesn’t make her happy. It’s not who she is and she knows it. Living her life her way is all that will suffice.
Because that’s how it has to be. It won’t always be all. About. You. It’s the only way she’ll know who she is.
Are you surrounded by people who expect you to be someone you're not? Or who don't take the time to really get to know you? Take a good long look in the mirror and make sure the reflection you see is the true version of yourself shining through. Know who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe in. You'll live a fuller life and your smile will shine brighter when you do. Know who you are. Be her.
For this WOW blog tour, I had the honor of speaking with Barbara Barth, author of Danger in Her Words. If you haven't met her or had the chance to speak with her, Barbara is a lovely person. Here's a glimpse into her world:
Tell me how you came to be a writer:
I wrote a few children’s stories when I was younger, about thirty years younger, but nothing came of my attempts to get them published. My mother wrote when we were kids and I think the idea always intrigued me.
After my husband died in 2008 I had no idea what to do with myself. I’d retired early from the federal government, did not have children to worry about, and my only outlet was a small antique booth that needed very little attention. To stop myself from sending pitiful e-mails to my friends at all hours of the night, I started to write my feelings down in a journal. The more I wrote, the happier I became. Writing is a great therapeutic tool for me.
My memoir The Unfaithful Widow chronicles my first year on my own doing all those things I never thought I’d do again, with the help of a vintage Corvette, the best girlfriends, bad dates leading to good things, a bevy of dogs, and signs from the universe. I wanted to be out in life rather than surrounded by grief. I decided to take those experiences and share them in a book for others who had suffered a loss.
I’ve written almost every day since. It is part of me now and I can’t imagine doing anything differently.
How did you go from writing non-fiction to romance?
Much like my character Susan in Danger, a TV sitcom pitch gone wrong at a writers’ conference made me wonder about my writing. At that time I had only written essay style non-fiction.
At lunch all the women I talked to were writing more erotic novels. The book Fifty Shades of Grey had just come out. I went home and decided to try something new myself. That weekend I knocked out 7000 plus words and was horrified it read like porn. I decided to hold off going any further and tucked it away.
Last summer I had a big birthday, you know, the kind that makes you feel older than dirt, and wanted to do something different. I decided to revisit Danger and play with it. A story had been brewing that might pull together the best of all worlds – a bit of naughty fun, a romance, suspense, and my latest fantasy, living in a farmhouse. Once I got started again, the story took off.
Other than the sex scenes, was there anything else challenging about writing Danger?
My essays are written from real life, writing fiction required me to create a life for all my characters, complete with a past, a present, jobs, and friends. It seemed endless! Once I got writing however, the characters and chapters seemed to take on a life of their own. I’ve heard that many times from other authors. It was an awesome feeling.
I also had the beginning and end of my book and had to go back and fill in the middle. I wanted to be sure the events in the book seemed plausible and that the smallest details were consistent throughout the story. I wanted to build suspense, but still keep it light, as Susan’s research draws her into harm’s way. It was a fine line to maintain and kept me at the computer for hours at a time, day after day. I lost most of the end of last year to finishing my book.
What is one of your biggest challenges in writing?
I write in short increments, 1200 to 1800 words. My attention span seems to drop off after that. As an essayist that works very well for me. My widow memoir was a series of essays strung together over a year to form a book. Danger had to flow from beginning to end as a novel. The chapters in Danger are short. There are 39 chapters plus a prologue and epilogue. The book is approximately 74,000 words. The chapters are full of action and dialog and I hope it is a quick enjoyable read.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I don’t read a lot of fiction. My taste runs to non-fiction, memoirs, and journals. I love to read about beauty in nature and life’s experiences. A favorite read when I was younger were the journals by May Sarton, an author who wrote fiction, but also on her life in Maine, and her experiences each decade as she aged.
I am a book lover, rather than an e-book gal. I want to hold and feel a book. It is a grand experience. I love vintage books with inscriptions from the late 1800s, written in flowing script. I still love children’s books. I have a huge collection of gardening books. If a book has a garden or a dog on the cover, it could come home with me, even if I never read it. I’ve loved books about renovating old houses, farm-life, and the light mystery.
My patience to sit and read is short, especially since I am now writing so much of the time. I want something I can pick up, enjoy a chapter before bed, and not feel lost the next night when I revisit it.
How would you describe Danger in Her Words?
I kid that Danger is my ‘naughty book’. I think it was just such a change in style for me, I had trouble with the fact I was writing about sex. The theme of my book dictated where I had to go to bring the story full circle. The sex is steamy and the girl-talk is great fun, not unlike conversations I’ve had with friends over Margaritas and wine. My characters are playful and teasing, those scenes are hot, but when they finally take the leap, the bedroom door closes.
Danger also brings on another dimension, it is a book within a book with insights into Susan’s writing process. Susan remembers (as I do) being in a class where the instructor warned that when writing sex scenes keep them in line with your character or your book will seem foolish. Susan does not want to write a sex book, she wants to write a good novel that is sexy as can be. I felt the same way and think I’ve accomplished my goal. It is not a book for the faint of heart, but it is a story that will hold your attention and raise your heart rate.
I loved the characters Susan and Jamie. Both are widows who have experienced loss and pieced themselves back together to have creative lives. They are strong, vulnerable, and while they sometimes don’t make the best decisions, they have learned how to laugh with life again.
Was the research you did for Danger anything like Susan’s research?
I think the quote in the front of my book gives insight to my research! Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Real life and fantasy are my fall back positions.
My character Susan had trouble writing the sexy scenes for her book, just like I had trouble writing mine for Danger. Susan turned to online dating for her inspiration and research and I looked back on some of the experiences I had reentering the dating world.
Anybody who has done online dating has probably come in contact with some of the characters I used. Hopefully not to the extreme I took it, with a predator. Although you do need to be careful as there are many scammers who do prey on women and not everyone is who they appear to be online. I was also surprised at how badly men will behave on a computer with a webcam doing things they would never consider when meeting a person face to face. In talking to gals of all ages it has been a universal experience, not just mine alone.
Danger is not meant to slam online dating sites. I know many women who have met nice guys and spouses through reputable sites. I met some truly strange men and wrote about them in my memoir. I dated a few good ones and wrote about them too. It seemed a natural flow to pull all of that together for Danger.
I thought I had picked a name for my fictional dating site that was unique. When I Googled it to be sure, I found it was an active site, although somewhat obscure. So I Googled every name I could think of until I came up with Love Me Cupid. To be sure it was mine alone, I bought the domain name! Now if I ever decide to start my own dating agency, I am set!
How did you decide to self-publish?
In 2010 I self-published my widow memoir with a company that offered many different design programs and services for varying fees. I had no idea how to do the interior files for print on demand or e-books and did not have the patience to try to find an agent and publishing company. I did have a strong vision for my book and chose a program with them that allowed me to have my book designed to my artistic whims and to use an original cover a friend created for me, rather than a stock cover they supplied. I was happy with the final results, but decided on a different route for Danger.
I knew from the beginning I would self-publish again but with some major changes. I turned to my sister this time and hired her for the book and cover design. She works with other authors with her company pd king designs. Coincidently, my mother started writing again at age eighty-five, so she handles my mother’s books too. I bought my own ISBN and the book is published through my own imprint, Gilbert Street Press.
After my sister completed her work she uploaded it to Amazon through CreateSpace and Kindle for free. My book was available for sale online within twenty-four hours.
Do you relate to any of the characters in Danger in her Words? If so, which one and how?
I think there is more of me in Susan than I like to admit! We both started dating the first year as a widow, then stopped. I found my path writing and adopting dogs. Susan found hers writing and moving to the farmhouse of her dreams. I looked at farmhouses an hour outside of Atlanta, and small Victorian cottages, wanting to move to a house that was different than the one I lived in with my husband. Susan’s farmhouse is a study of all the real estate I loved and lost! Decorating her farmhouse was fun. It is full of everything I love. And, last but not least, Susan has a strong core group of female friends and I am lucky to have the same.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I am somewhat obsessed with writing and have to stop myself to get out and enjoy all the other things I love! My six dogs are my biggest passion. No, I don’t take them for walks, but we do frolic in my fenced back yard. They demand to be let out, fed, and played with, so they are my break from the computer.
I’ve sold antiques for as long as I can remember. In 2011 I opened a small shop of my own in a tiny town thirty minutes from where I live. It was to be an antique shop, but somehow I turned it into an art center, with book signings, writing classes, and art openings every weekend. It was a magical time, but I never made my rent. At the end of the year I had to close the shop and move back to selling in antique malls. Two months ago I decided it was time to give up the antiques business, except to be a sometimes picker for other dealers. This is my year to figure out what goes and what stays. I will always love finding treasures, but now pretty much just for myself now.
I love having lunch and dinner with friends. Good conversations over junk food! The writers’ guild I started when I had my shop still meets twice a month. My Book Talk blog is a continuation of my joy in helping promote other authors. I started it after I closed my shop.
Naps. There is always time for naps, especially when you have six dogs eager to join in!
How would you describe your writing style and what are you working on now?
With my essays, I like to think I write like I talk. As though we are friends sharing our thoughts and ideas. I try to find humor in everything and prefer to have a light touch even on tougher subjects I deal with. I am in the learning process with fiction. I love fast paced dialog. To be honest, I am never sure what direction I will take when I sit down. I do know I work on a piece until I feel I’ve gotten it right for me. While I hope my writing has an ease to it, it is difficult for me to find the words I want. I am cursed with typos no matter who reads for me.
Lots of goodies in the works. A memoir on living with six dogs as a single gal. A fictional book with a widow in her sixties as the main character. It will be another story within a story with a haunted spirit hanging around. The voices in my head get louder every day. Perhaps they do that to be heard over the yapping of my dogs!
Thanks for hosting me on your blog Vickie! It has been great meeting you through my blog tour with WOW.
Every year, in the sleepy little village where I live, the river reinvents itself. In the summer it’s a fast flowing river where salmon swim, people fish, and boats cruise up and down from one village to another. When it gets cold, as in really cold, it freezes over. Inside and out, several feet thick, and the river becomes an ice road. Instead of using boats for transportation, folks pile into their 4-wheelers or trucks and drive to the nearby villages. People still fish there. They just have to drill a hole into the ice to get to them. And when it starts to get warm again and spring turns into summer, the river becomes…well, a river again.
People can do this to, ya know? Maybe not turn into an ice highway, but they can reinvent themselves. We do it all the time. Rebecca Webber wrote an article in the June 2014 Psychology Today magazine on this very topic. In it, Webber reminds readers to dream big, stay true to self, and make goals toward becoming your future self. She talks about how hard it is to do and gives examples of folks who wanted to reinvent themselves and accomplished doing so. It got me to thinking about all the people I’ve read about who have done this very thing in their own unique ways.
Like this person. After the end of a long term relationship, instead of getting stuck on the past relationship, she reinvented herself. Creating a break up list (think “to-do” list only much more interesting) allowed her an incredible opportunity to dream big, stay true to self, and make goals toward becoming her future self.
Or Lisa, whose blog tells the story of life lessons she’s learned from the end of her marriage. She writes “This blog is about re-centering and re-purposing…It is about how to create beauty from trauma.” Isn’t that incredible? Re-centering and re-purposing herself. Creating beauty. Again, another example or reinventing self.
Sometimes we reinvent ourselves for other reasons. Like this couple, The Gypsynesters. These guys are great. Instead of getting sucked into the empty nest syndrome, they decided to go all out and explore the world. They sold the nest first, in case you were wondering.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of reinventing self. A couple weeks ago I reinvented myself from clinician to director of a film. It was a short-lived experience and a lot harder than I ever thought possible, but I enjoyed every minute of it. From hosting the cast party pre-filming, to meeting the film crew, to cleaning up afterward, it was fun to play a different role for a while.
So what about you? Do you have a goal or a dream for your future? An idea of who or what you want to be someday? It doesn’t mean you aren’t content with your life now. It just means that maybe your current role in life is something you want to change in a few years.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Dream big. Create goals that can help you make your dream a reality. Most of all, stay true to yourself.
Just last week we bought a water purifier. It’s one of those fancy double decker types that shows you just how awful your water looks before it filters through the five levels of purification. It has taken up lodging on the center of our now too small kitchen island.
The difference in the water after it’s purified is definitely noticeable. The water is cleaner, tastes “thinner” somehow and is probably much better for us. Oh, and did I mention the person waiting for that cleaner, thinner, better water is probably experiencing dehydration at rapid speed because the monstrosity purifies the water so slowly?
It’s true. Before, when we were drinking “regular” water, it came out of the faucet. Just a flip of the handle and water came forth. Unless of course there was something wrong with the pump or we were out of water or the water had frozen. If you lived in our neck of the woods, you’d understand how any of these things could happen at any time or in the dead of winter or at the end of every second Sunday just before water delivery day.
Now though, we take the water from the faucet (so long as one of the above catastrophes hasn’t happened) and pour it into the top deck of this water purifier. And then we wait. And wait. And wait. And we wait some more. It takes so long for water to filter through a ceramic something or other that the first evening we waited a few hours until there was enough purified water to make a pot of coffee.
It turns out there is nothing wrong with the water filter contraption. We checked. This is just what it takes to get really clean water. As we stood there that first evening, huddled around the island as if it was an altar and the water purifier our god, my husband made a very profound statement. About consistency of all things.
He talked about how we (as in a society) decide to start something –a project, a class, an exercise regime or what have you—and we expect immediate results. Then, when we don’t get those results at lightning speed, we give up instead of consistently repeating the steps it takes to get the results we want.
Take savings for example. When we think about our retirement funds it can be hard to believe that a small amount of our check every week or every two weeks will eventually end up as enough money to live on without working. So some folks don’t save for retirement. I know when I was in my early twenties it never occurred to me that I could be saving for my future like that. Yet we can…As long as we keep repeating the steps.
It got me to thinking about all the other things I’ve given up on too quickly because I didn’t see the results I wanted fast enough. I have a long history of quitting. Books that haven’t seen the light of day because I stopped after the writing phase and never went on to the editing phase or the publishing phase. The triathlon or marathon I’ve never participated in because I can’t see past the burn in my legs after a single workout.
What about you? Are there projects you haven’t finished? Or books that you haven’t published? A degree you haven’t earned yet because the daunting repetition of attending class and doing the homework doesn’t seem to get to the degree getting fast enough? Maybe you’ve dismissed the idea of saving for your future because a few dollars set aside every pay period doesn’t seem like it will ever add up.
If you’re anything like me, I encourage you to try being a water purifier instead. Don’t expect the results of something that takes time to come rushing out at you like Niagara Falls. The strength of that water is mighty, but it will bowl you over and leave you exhausted and soaked.
Be a water purifier and let the ideas or the concept or the project or the _______________ (insert your goal here) filter through the ceramic. Practice repetition, slow things down, and savor the moment. The results may come one drip at a time but in the end you’ll have the finished project or the degree or the sporting activity or the savings you can be proud of.
5/4/2014 1 Comment
As part of Sue Silverman's WOW blog tour, I'm honored to have Sue Silverman give a guest post on her journey as a memoirist...
Step One Along the Path
As a memoirist, following a path from childhood to, well, middle age, I’ve written thousands of words on thousands of pieces of paper, with more than a few detours along the way! It took me years to even begin the process – to see and hear all the true-true stories I needed to tell.
I actually began as a fiction writer – my first detour – drafting something like 4 – 6 (I forget the actual number!) very bad (thankfully unpublished) autobiographical novels about child abuse. In fiction, however, I simply couldn't discover an emotionally authentic voice. Over a ten-year period, I can almost say I suffered from writer’s block. Or let’s call it active writer’s block. I was, after all, sitting at my computer a solid six hours a day. But I wasn’t writing what I should have been writing: a memoir.
I was scared.
So year after year, I plodded along a circuitous route disguising my true narrative as fiction.
Step Two Along the Path
Finally, with the urging of a therapist, not a writing instructor, I discovered the courage to write my story as memoir.
Given that ten-year foundation in the craft of writing, I was, at least, able to complete Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You in three months.
Step Three Along the Path
This first memoir examines my childhood growing up in my incestuous family. But it doesn’t include the years that I acted out a sexual addiction, a result of the incest.
Yet I knew I had to discover the words and the metaphors for that next stage of my life. I didn’t yet fully understand the ramifications of the addiction. Nor would I, until I overcame the shame enough to write about it.
Five years later I finished Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction.
A Detour Along the Way
After completing Love Sick, I took a break from this intense focus on myself. I wrote a poetry collection, Hieroglyphics in Neon, as well as a craft book, Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir. I’d discovered the value of memoir; now I wanted to encourage others to create their personal narratives as well.
Step Four Along the Path
Yet I knew I still had more words to write in order to construct a clearer path of my own life. I now envisioned an even broader vista outside my writerly window, an additional route to follow out of the quagmire of the past.
The destination? A memoir called The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew.
This new book, much more ironic than dark, explores my conflicted feelings toward Judaism growing up, and my efforts to pass as Christian, refuge from my scary Jewish father. I depict this, most forcefully, in three separate encounters with the overtly Christian, 1960s pop-music icon – and father of four daughters – Pat Boone. He represents someone wholly other from my father, a kind of talisman reflecting my wish to belong to the dominant religion and culture.
My search for identity was also a desire to flee my Russian Jewish heritage. I wanted to fit into the WASPy suburb in which I lived. I wanted to look like Pat Boone’s daughters, resemble all my Christian high-school friends. I wanted to meld into my surroundings.
The Meaning of the Journey
One book. Two books. Three.
Even though each of these memoirs stands alone in and of itself, still, there are connections that make them almost a trilogy as I move from terror (incest), to edgy danger (addiction), to a deepening of the search for identity (both ironic and spiritual). On this path, there is also a movement from darkness to light…from danger to, in this new book, humor – or at least black humor! As these narratives flow one into the other, the path clarifies. I emerge from the journey more whole, more “me,” more aware, and less conflicted.
What does your path look like? How clear – or confusing – is your journey?
Sue William Silverman, author bio:
Sue William Silverman’s new memoir is The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew. Her two other memoirs are Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction, which is also a Lifetime TV movie, and Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, which won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award in creative nonfiction. Her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir. As a professional speaker, Sue has appeared on The View, Anderson Cooper 360, and more. She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Be sure to visit Sue Silverman's website and a link to her book The Pat Boone Fan Club on Amazon.