I feel an evolution happening within me—a revolution really. I’m beginning to feel free in a way I haven’t before. I’m beginning to feel settled, on the inside.
For decades, I’ve been trying to figure out how to live authentically. I recognized when I was in my mid-twenties that I was struggling to allow myself to be seen. I had developed a habit of hiding behind what I’ve come to think of as my costume, the outer me that I projected to all others.
On the inside, I was someone different from the person everyone thought they knew. I had learned how to observe what people expected from me, what made people respond to me, and how to contort myself into these shapes. When I was very young, I wasn’t conscious of doing this. But as I matured into adulthood, I became aware of the disconnect between my inner and outer selves. It manifested as a tension that threatened to rip me apart. I managed to cross the breaking point without being swallowed, and I’ve been slowly making my way across the other side ever since.
But I’m still not living authentically. Yes, it’s gotten a lot easier to reveal myself in some situations, but there are still too many instances when I bend and twist myself. Why do I do this?
Continue reading “Evolution Revolution”
I am thrilled now to be able to say my memoir is done! Well, not done as in published, or even ready to be published, but drafted. Not the final draft, mind you, only the first draft. Still, this is a major accomplishment on a project that’s been eating at me for too many years. I feel relieved. I feel free to write about all those other things that have been swirling around in my mind.
And now I understand the disorientation other writers have described after completing manuscripts. For much of the past year, I went to my desk each morning knowing what I was going to work on. I longed for the day when I’d be able to work on something–anything!–other than the damn memoir. But it’s not that easy, is it? I come to my desk these days and fiddle with pens and paper, and read too many stories on the Internet, and try to decide where to begin. What topic should I write on? What is my angle? What form should the writing take? Where should I begin? With freedom comes too many choices.
So today I’m here, writing this post–a little thing, but better than just spinning and not writing anything at all. Continue reading “One Foot in Front of the Other”
Whew, it’s been a long time since I posted here about what’s going on with me. Here it is March and I’m just finally feeling recovered from the holidays. I always think I’m not making enough progress in this endeavor of writing and advocacy–until I put down what I’ve been up to.
The next big thing coming up on my schedule is the American Adoption Congress Conference, where I’ll be moderating a panel discussion with my adoptee sisters from Lost Daughters on March 28. Ten of us will talk about diverse narratives within the collective adoptee voice. Early-bird registration rates have been extended, so there’s still time to make your plans to meet us in Boston. We’ll also have copies of our anthology on hand and our signing pens ready!
At the end of January, I launched a new website I’ve been working on for some time, called Adoptee Reading Resource. My goal with the site is twofold: to catalog every book written by an adoptee that I can identify and to also list adoption books authored by non-adoptees that adoptees recommend. In other words, it’s an adoptee-centric book site, to enable adoptees–and everyone else–to discover adoptee-centric books. (Yes, I can work in the word “adoptee” a few more times if you’d like.) Now that it’s live, I’m excited to see how it grows.
Continue reading “A Conference, a Website, and a Book”
How did it get to be September? Moving to a new state sucks so much energy out of you, you lose track of the months. I’m happy to say that my family and I are finally beginning to feel settled in our new home. It’s time to turn my attention back to my creative goals.
In the midst of all the craziness, I managed to edit and publish a poetry anthology on behalf of the Georgia Poetry Society. Don’t ask me how I did it. It’s all a blur. But I’m very proud of how it turned out and thrilled to share the cover here–the first cover I’ve designed myself. I’m very grateful to artist Karen Burnette Garner for submitting to GPS’s first cover contest. Her gorgeous painting is a song.
In other news, I’ve contributed an epistolary piece to an upcoming anthology titled Dear Wonderful You: Letters to Adopted and Fostered Youth. This is a unique project that will enable young adult readers to correspond directly with the authors after the book is published. I’m looking forward to interacting with these young adoptees and foster children in a mentoring role. More information about this project will be coming in the next few months.
Now that my kids are back in school, I’m settling into a writing routine once again. The memoir I’ve had floating around for several years has finally bubbled to the top of the to-do list. Anyone who’s ever thought about writing a book probably knows this dance I’ve been doing–advancing toward the manuscript and then pushing away from it, over and over again. This is a dance that can absorb a life if you let it. I’m at last determined to finish the thing, once and for all. My goal is to have a complete draft by the end of the year, and I’ve been progressing well over the past several weeks. Hold me to this, everyone!
I have other goals in mind as well. But that’s talk for another day…
In a previous post, I proclaimed, “Good writers allow themselves to be seen naked on the page.” I do believe that the best writers are able to express their vulnerability in what they write and that this vulnerability is what makes good writing so good, because it opens a window through which a reader can see parts of himself.
However, I also think that being “naked” on the page does not necessarily mean a writer has to reveal every little detail about a real-life situation. Even memoirists have the right to keep some things private. And I think that we who write about real life especially need to be careful to protect the privacy of those we write about.
It’s one thing to tell all about our own interior life. Our thoughts, feelings, reactions, etc. belong to no one else but ourselves. We should write about these things. We must, if we want our writing to resonate. But when it comes to describing events that have taken place in our lives that include things other people have said or done, we need to consider that even though, as writers, we’ve chosen to live in the public eye to a certain degree, others in our lives have not made this conscious choice, nor should they be forced to by the words we publish. There’s certainly no way to avoid mentioning the important people in our lives. They will appear in our work. But I think we can be naked on the page ourselves without having to rip off the clothes of our friends and family. Continue reading “Being Naked on the Page vs. Tearing off the Clothes of Loved Ones”