I sat in a café today fighting back tears yet staring determinedly at my computer screen. Part of me wanted to run away while the other part thought, no, I have to do this.
I’d begun pulling my poetry collection together and as I began revisiting each piece, one by one, all the emotions they held rose up again within me.
A year a two ago, I found myself working on the same floor as a specialist I had first met in my 20s. As a man with a curious and active mind, who remembered me from way back then, he was keen to read my book as soon as I mentioned it. I still remember the look on his face afterwards. He looked at me intently and said, “It must have been very difficult to write a lot that.”
I nodded and said, “Yes. Yes it was.”
When you’re a memoirist and you write from real life, your life, it’s extraordinarily difficult to hide from yourself and the experiences of your past. You must look at yourself, study where you have been, unpick the threads of your life, then somehow sew them back together.
It’s not an easy journey to undertake. It’s often emotionally challenging. When you write about yourself, you cannot hide from yourself. This is why I frequently use journaling activities with my mentoring clients – what better way to uncover your true desires than to pick up a pen and begin recording your brutal self-honesty in writing.
Just like my first book, my poetry collection is autobiographical and traverses my relationship landscape with all its pain, heartbreaks and disappointments. There is a little humour in there too and this time, I also begin exploring the complicating influence of being psychic.
I’ve found that being highly intuitive can work for and against me in romantic relationships. Yes, it may provide an extra level of insight about the person you are interested in but on the other hand, when your emotions are involved, your ability to easily to discern between your intuition and what your heart would like to happen can fly out the window. Factors like soul contracts and past life connections (or past life hangovers as I call them) can also mess with your head, a lot.
I am not one of those women who can put her emotions in a box. In truth, writing my first book was very much like my own personal version of therapy. It was only through writing about my experiences, editing it then revisiting it again, that I was able to finally clear a lot of debris from my psyche. With the birthing of that book I was able to step back and see where I had learned the lessons I needed to learn, and then let the rest go.
I find that my poetry is far more raw than my prose. It always knows what it wants to be when it arrives. It has a clear intention and energy of its own. Once written I can only change a word here or tweak a phrase there. Further self-indulgent editing inevitably destroys the life of the piece leaving it a bedraggled and shallow version of its former self. So I leave most of the words as they arrive.
The memories in my poetry are vivid. They are unavoidable and, judging by my emotional response today, I still have a lot to process about their contents. Two hours was about all I could manage today before I needed a break. But I am going to persevere. There are other books waiting to be finished and released.
Interestingly the themes of relationships, love, and energetic connections are increasingly showing themselves in my work. I guess my Muse is determined that I learn the lessons that are being delivered to me and I continue to be her reluctant yet committed pupil.
Yikes! After such a long period of time, I can hardly believe it.
What if people hate it? What if they love it? What if they don’t care? The thoughts scurry through my brain before I come back, for a moment, to a place of inner calm because it’s done now. It’s born. All I can do is tell people about it.
So here’s the summary. The Men I’ve Almost Dated is about my life in my 30s, the men I dated (or almost dated), sex, dubious decision-making, divorce and men behaving badly. It’s not a ‘how-to guide’ on getting it right when it comes to men and dating. However, it may be a ‘how-to guide’ on how to get it atrociously wrong. I’ll let you be the judge.
Over the coming days and weeks I’ll be sharing more about my book on this blog and my social media channels – so keep your eyes peeled. But for now, if you’d like to grab yourself a copy, head over to my webpage for all the details. You can buy the eBook version today and the print version will be available in coming weeks.
My editor rang yesterday and I cringed when I saw her number appear on my iPhone.
It wasn’t because Kristy is a horrible person – she is in fact, completely awesome. But I knew she’d ask about my editing and I would have to tell the truth…that I had barely started.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve been working on a memoir for a few years now. I’m currently in the home stretch – I just need to finish editing and then publish it. All the words are there. They just need (as Kristy puts it) ‘a little tweaking’.
But I’ve been stuck for a couple of months.
I could give you a few reasonably valid reasons for my inertia during this time. For example, there’s my recovery from a break-up and another writing project I started just before New Years that now sits at 43,000 words and counting. I could tell you that my spiritual work has been increasing every day. Or I could say that a myriad of other ‘life’ things and work commitments have just got in the way and kept me busy.
All of these things would be true. But they don’t touch on the three real reasons on why I haven’t finished my first book.
I’ve been hiding from the editing because, being a memoir, some of the content is still a little sensitive and I have to be brave and look at myself honestly when I revisit it. I have to be willing to truly face and accept my demons when I re-read my words.
Secondly, I worry that my words will never be good enough and it will be criticised as self-indulgent claptrap. I know this fear is not unique to me, every author has it at some point. Nevertheless, it sits between me and the finish line.
Thirdly (and this is the big one), I’m not great at self-accountability. I can meet deadlines brilliantly for other people but my personal ones often go swishing past with no actual delivery. Is it about putting other people first? Partly. Is it about not having enough faith in myself to actually finish? Most definitely.
Sometimes I’m just brilliant at getting in my own way.
Yesterday I decided to try a different approach and get some support to get things done!
As Kristy, by her own confession, suffers from similar personal roadblocks, we decided to make an Accountability Pact. We each decided on two goals we were going to reach this month and committed to achieving them. We will meet at the end of March, in person, and if we haven’t achieved our goals we’ll have to explain why. I’ve even suggested that if this doesn’t work, we could implement consequences for failing to deliver in future months.
It’s only day two but so far we’re both off to a great start and have been sharing our achievements. And, if all goes well, I will have my book edited by the end of the month.
The Accountability Pact isn’t only about achieving goals. It’s about having someone out there who will cheer you on and help you celebrate when you reach a milestone. Even more importantly, it’s about someone helping you to get out of your own way.
One of the most difficult things about writing a memoir is rediscovering the things you have tried hard to forget.
And when your memoir is focused on your love life, well, let’s just say some of the moments you uncover definitely make you uncomfortable.
I wouldn’t say I regret some of the things I’ve done. But I do look back and think, ‘Oh my God, did I really do that?’
Did I really have a fling with a guy who later turned up to work with a mo-hawk? Did I really make a pass at my boss? Did I really obsess about that guy for more than a year and think about putting notes on the windscreen of his car?
And did I really tolerate truly appalling behaviour from men who clearly did not deserve my consideration in any way?
The answer to all these questions and many more, is a resounding yes. Oh my, the physical cringing I feel as I write this. It makes me shudder.
But, there is one thought that comforts me. That is the knowledge that most people have similar cringe-worthy skeletons in their closets. If you have lived life then you have definitely had experiences (let’s not call them mistakes) and they have made you what you are. You just wouldn’t want them plastered on the front page of The Courier-Mail.
We do usually learn from our ‘experiences’ and evolve accordingly. But, sometimes you only realise how much you’ve grown when you look back at your past.
Today I had coffee with a colleague I knew years ago. I can still remember us both sitting there at our desks, slightly tearful as we navigated the trauma of recent breakups. We were not in the best emotional shape. Actually, I was a basket-case and she was little better.
But today we are in very different places. She’s happily married to a wonderful man she met on-line and I am the happiest I can ever remember being. I guess we’ve both learned a thing or two.
So, although I sit here cataloguing my experiences and cringing at the embarrassing activities of my past I know there has been a reason for it all.