Archive | Heartfelt

Paying the bills and providing shelter

If you’re a fan of Things I Want to Punch in the Face, you may have noticed that I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I haven’t been ill or in the witness protection program.

My heart has been elsewhere.

Specifically, I’ve been writing my memoir. I’ve talked about writing a coming-of-age memoir for years and years, working on it on and off. But I committed myself at the beginning of 2013 to make this manuscript a priority.

And believe me, it has been no easy task.

While I’ve always been able to find time to write a funny blog post here and there, it’s a whole ‘nother enchilada to write a deeply personal long-form narrative. I had to have help. I set up a small support group to help me stay accountable. We were to send each other new chunks of writing each week. I have taken one-day and ongoing workshops to give me more tools around structure, dialogue, and characters. A few friends and I have even set up public “works-in-progress” events, where we read new pieces from our memoirs.

Even with all this, I continue to need accountability. It is far too easy to let life—travel, crisis, health issues, and paying gigs—get in the way. When I have a deadline for a freelance article or need to show up for my part-time job, my memoir gets the boot.

I work around all of this, writing at night or on weekends. And I also push through the emotions that arise when writing honestly about difficult events from my past, a past that includes people who I love and hope to not hurt or offend in the process. But one of my writing instructors, a celebrated memoirist in her own right, said that the feeling of discomfort that we get while writing tells us that we are doing the right thing, we are providing shelter to others.

That is part of what drives me. Yes, I want to create a work that has value and is beautifully written. But I want to give the gift of my story to others, who can be entertained (particularly when they read about the tragicomedy that was my prom), but who can also recognize themselves in my own painful adolescence.

So I persevere, even if sometimes I have to write corporate marketing copy first. I’m bringing the same determination that saw me through my teenage years to completing a draft of my memoir by next year. I’ll keep you posted.

Blogversation: How will you support your local businesses during the holidays?

Throughout this year, several bloggers will engage in a conversation on Newvine Growing—asking questions of each other and responding. Others are absolutely welcome to join the conversation, as well. Learn more about the Blogversation 2012. I wrote the following post around Black Friday.

You Get What You Pay For.

Writing my humor blog and then book, Things I Want to Punch in the Face, healed me when I was grieving, and made me not only face my dark side, but get comfortable with it.

Now, publicizing the book has changed me again. It’s made me rethink my purchasing habits and the kind of person I want to be. After a month of throwing Punch Parties at local bookstores and meeting independent booksellers at various conferences, I see the magic that exists within this community. Magic that I—we—can’t take for granted.

I emceed the author’s luncheon at the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association conference a few weeks ago and warmed up the crowd of bookstore owners and staff with a few Things They Might Want to Punch in the Face. First up: customers who regard their store as an Amazon showroom, coming in and snapping photos or making a note on their smartphone so they can order the book later online. This is an all-too-familiar scenario. I know, because I’m guilty as charged. At least I was. I’ve wised up because I’ve learned something.

You get what you pay for.

And what I get at my local bookshop is an experience. When you pay full price at your local bookstore, you get customer service, a wealth of knowledge, the continuing resource of a neighborhood gathering place, a full-on community.When you buy a book on amazon or another discounted retail site, you get the book. That’s it. The 30-40 percent you are “saving” is the cost of having a storefront, a knowledgeable and lovely staff, and books you can thumb through at your leisure. When you choose to “save,” you sacrifice your experience and your community.

You get what you pay for. And often, you lose what you don’t pay for.

Queen Anne Books, one of many local bookstores I’ve frequented over the years, hosted my last Punch Party in Seattle. Five days later, it closed its doors. This is deeply saddening, but not unique. It’s happening everywhere—bookstores, yarn shops, record stores are all going the way of the dinosaur.

I get it. I’m practical and lord knows, I love a good deal. As an author and a consumer, I like that amazon exists, that people can find my books no matter where they live, that I can easily ship out gifts to friends and family across the country.

But this comes at a price, and I’m not talking about free shipping.

Amazon is the hot dog of retailers: we know it’s bad for us but we want it anyway…with relish.

I’m not trying to slap anyone’s wrist as they reach for their mouse to click the BUY button. I’m just suggesting that we make more informed choices, value all that our local businesses provide to us, and as we dive into another holiday season, choose quality over quantity and save our local businesses instead of saving 40 percent off a copy of Where’d You Go, Bernadette (which, by the way, is terrific. I have Suzanne at Secret Garden Books to thank for the recommendation).

You get what you pay for.

Blogversation 2012: What have you done when some life-altering event has happened to you?

Throughout this year, several bloggers will engage in a conversation here and on their blogs — asking questions of each other and responding. Others are absolutely welcome to join the conversation, as well. Learn more about the ladies of Blogversation 2012.

Today’s question comes from Kay Hoffman Goluska, who blogs at Pen on Pointe.  She’s @PenOnPointe on Twitter.

While I have many life-altering events under my belt—really, isn’t every moment in your life an opportunity for change?—the one that immediately springs to mind is the bad January I had back in 2009. It wasn’t just one event but four—a breakup, death of a pet, book cancellation, and surgery—that happened over an eight-day span that set me off on a different path.

I was seriously grieving, realizing that we no longer have a culture or ritual around grief. We don’t know how to talk about it. So we internalize our pain, at least I did. I felt like I was going to fucking explode. I was on edge, annoyed at every little thing. So one night, alternately crying and channel surfing, I decided to create Things I Want to Punch in the Face, a humor blog to smack down all the various and sundry things in life that chap my hide. Now, it’s a book and getting great buzz. Even as my grief subsided, I continued with the blog because it made me so darn happy. And following that bliss in an authentic voice has led to new opportunities.

On a more personal level, that bad January broke me. And it allowed me to rebuild myself in new, healthier ways. I work with an amazing leadership coach, I have an incredible support network, and I’m continuing to do work on myself. I see patterns in my behavior that I’m working to shift. For example, that unexpected breakup in 2009 made me realize I was dating the same time of guy over and over, a guy who wasn’t a good or healthy fit for me. So now, I can see that more clearly from the get-go and make different choices (i.e. RUN AWAY!). Certain events can be devastating, certainly, but after working through the initial pain, there is always an opportunity for profound, toe-curling, goosebumpy change.

And that makes me want to fucking explode…in a good way.