4 questions about my memoir—answered!
What’s a Blog Hop? Great question. (I had no clue either.)
Basically, I answer a few questions about my writing, and then let you hop over to a few of *my* favorite bloggers. The hope is that they’ll answer these questions, too, and we can all gain some insights into this crazy thing we love/hate to do called writing.
(Get ready, by the way. The bloggers I’m linking to are out of this world.)
OK… here goes!
What am I working on / writing?
I just finished writing a mother-daughter memoir, Sally’s Circle, which traces how my relationship with my mom, Sally, fell apart and came back together in the wake of her cancer diagnosis when I was 17 years old. Alternating chapters to each share our side of the story—whether dealing with chemo, shopping for the perfect prom dress, or comforting me through first loves and break-ups—we wrote the book together until she passed away when I was 20. Our hope was to write a relatable, meaningful, and honest story that could help other mothers and daughters.
(To get a feel for the book, you can read my recent xoJane.com essay, “How Do You Find a Wedding Dress Without Your Mom?”)
Now that the manuscript is ready, I’m working on a book proposal to send to literary agents. Please cross your fingers for Sally and me!
How does my work/writing differ from other works of its genre?
Co-written mother-daughter memoirs are rare and special. (So far I’ve only read a handful). In our book, readers get to see everything—my mom’s diagnosis, the worst fight we ever had, saying goodbye when I left for college—from both of our perspectives.
When my mom and I shared chapters with each other years ago, we were fascinated to witness what the other went through. Sometimes our reactions to events were so similar. Other times, they were wildly different.
We always envisioned Sally’s Circle as a pass-along book that mothers can read and give to their daughters, and vice versa. I hope it can help them see the world through each other’s eyes and bring them closer.
Why do I write what I do?
I blame my mom—and I mean that in the best way. Sally always encouraged me to follow my passion of becoming a writer. In fact, it was while I was getting my journalism degree at Syracuse University that she called me at midnight and said excitedly, “Missy—I have an idea. Let’s write a book.”
Writing gave us a way to understand what the other person was going through. When she was diagnosed, I ran in the opposite direction, and for a while it seemed like we’d never regain our closeness. Writing the book brought us back together.
After my mom died, it was hard to continue writing the book without her. But whenever I sit down to work on it, even now writing this blog post, I feel Sally’s presence with me. After fourteen years of working on the book, on and off, I finally finished writing it this year. I know Sally helped me to complete it.
How does my writing process work?
I love setting aside anywhere from one to five hours on a weekend afternoon to write. Our sunny Brooklyn apartment has a small office with an antique “lady desk” my husband and I bought on our honeymoon in Maine two years ago. You’ll often find me sitting at the desk, blasting my favorite music from college on Spotify (mostly Jimmy Eat World’s “Clarity” album), and enjoying the alone time to think and write. When I’m on deadline, I often stay up ‘til 2am or write on my iPhone during my hour-long subway commute. The delirium and the tiny device make me less self-critical, and free me to write from the heart.
Now… allow me to introduce you to a few of my favorite bloggers:
Rebecca Elkin-Young is a NYC-based Licensed Creative Arts therapist and writer who started The Ever Forward Blog in response the miscarriage of her first pregnancy. She scoured the internet for the supportive voice of a real-talking, dark-humored, insightful girlfriend who could guide her through this experience …and then decided to be that voice. The blog became about more than miscarriage. It speaks to coping with any loss or transition and the ways we pick up the pieces and find creative ways to put them together. Becca is in the process of expanding her blog into a hybrid memoir/survival guide. Stay connected via www.TheEverForward.com and @theeverforward on Twitter!
Dara Pettinelli is the digital senior manager of editorial at Conde Nast Traveler. She has written for The Huffington Post, ABCNews.com, Babble, and More magazine, among others. Once every three or so months, she posts groundbreaking thoughts on her blog Solitary Confinement. She believes that reality television is real, candy is a food group and that writing is fun.