You purchase a presale copy now, but the book is set to debut April 14th, 2018.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am a writer who helps writers—that’s the best way to describe it. I started writing books almost 10 years ago (I’ve written 12 now) and have helped hundreds of authors get their ideas down on paper. I’m passionate about this process, not only because of the beautiful and moving art that comes out of it (I’m a firm believer that art is one of the greatest resources we have to bring positive change to the world) but also because the act of expressing ourselves is one of the greatest tools we have for generating positive change in our personal lives. The research shows a regular writing practice is one of the most effective ways to improve sleep, relationships, self-confidence, physical health, career and even your finances. Writing our stories not only changes us for the better, it changes the world for the better—even if we never publish a thing!
I have personal experience with this process, as well as professional since I used writing as one of the primary ways I recovered from a major personal tragedy in my life a few years ago. I had already been writing and working with clients for years at the time—and of course had experienced the benefits of a regular writing practice (and watched other people experience the same)—but my confidence in the ability of the written word to help a person re-route their life out of a ditch increased dramatically when I went through a complicated divorce and found myself lost, heartbroken, depressed, self-sabotaging and trying to find my voice again. Writing the story of what happened to me is how I got myself out of the pit.
Writing our stories teaches us to stand outside of them for a minute, and it shows us how to be the hero of our own life. When we write our stories and learn how to leverage EVERYTHING that happens to us for our own healing and evolution, we become unstoppable. Indestructible.
Why do you think your latest book Indestructible is relevant in today's day and age?
The main reason I think it’s relevant is that for the first time women are speaking the truth about what’s been happening behind closed doors for a long time. Abuse. Manipulation. Sexual exploitation. Mistreatment. Injustice. Finally finally women are using their voice, to tell the truth (although like I talk about in my book, there’s a difference between telling the truth about someone else and telling the truth about ourselves—the second one is much harder to do, but also has much greater healing power in the end). Indestructible is my personal story of a marriage that didn’t go the way I wanted it to go… it’s a story of betrayal, hiding, control, lying, manipulation… but/and I hope it’s also bigger than that. I hope this is a story for anyone who is ready to stop waiting for their life to change. Anyone who is ready to take responsibility for her own life and leveraged her suffering for her own healing.
Cheryl Strayed says that forgiveness isn’t the pretty boy sitting at the bar, he’s the big fat man you have to lug up a hill. I believe this is true, and I would add that after you’ve lugged the big fat man up the hill, you get to keep all the strength you gained along the way, and take all the credit for the person you’ve become—and there really is no better feeling.
So I hope this book is an anthem for anyone who has suffered, in any way. Not just for women who have been mistreated, although I really hope it’s that, too. But I hope it encourages people to tell the truth about what’s happening to them or has happened to them in the past, to begin to see themselves not as the victim of their story but as the hero; I hope it encourages someone who’s ready to give up on themselves to keep trying, and I hope it is a reminder that if we want more love in our lives, we are the only person who has our hand on the lever. Love is what happens when we show up in our lives with our whole hearts. It has more to do with us than anyone.
What made you want to write Indestructible?
I wrote this book when I was in the pit—when my marriage ended abruptly after I discovered the man I was married to wasn’t the man I assumed he was. I wrote it to claw my way out of that dark place (a place of questioning everything I believed about life and love and faith) but I also say often that this is the longest love letter I’ve ever written. I wrote it to myself. I wrote it to everyone I’ve ever loved. I wrote it for anyone who has ever had to fight like hell to save her own life. And I wrote it with the hope that every person who reads it will realize how truly remarkable they are, and will be able to find a way to bring their strength and beauty and love to the world.
What was the writing process like? Since it was a memoir and based on your life how did you figure out the theme of the book?
This was the 12th book I’ve written, so my writing process has evolved (and shortened significantly!) over the years. I already had the book mapped out when I started writing. I used the same process to outline the book that I’ve used to help hundreds of authors outline their books, and then took the outline with me to the beach in Florida for 10 days. I rented a little condo on the water and wrote the first draft (50k words) in my time there.
Writing a personal memoir is harder, in many ways, than writing a more didactic non-fiction book. The latter requires more research, but the former requires more honesty and heart and self-reflectiveness, and that was the hardest part for me. So, in this case, because I was writing the story of my marriage and divorce, the writing process felt pretty “messy” even though it was practically cleaner and faster than other books and been (my first book took me almost three years to write. This one took 10 days, if that gives you any idea…) But the 10 days at the beach were some of the hardest of my life, and particularly of this healing journey I’ve been on. I tell writers you can’t write your story and not come face to face with yourself. It will bring you back into alignment FAST. This is the power of writing, and also the difficulty.
As far as theme (which I would call framing—title, subtitle, etc) this particular book of mine went through at least 5 titles before I landed on Indestructible, which came from a John Steinbeck quote: "I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”)
What was the publishing process like? Did you choose the book cover art or did your publisher find and work with someone?
I have worked with a dozen publishers on books I’ve written in the past years, including my first memoir, so at first, I was convinced I wanted to take the traditional publishing process with this book. I pitched it to all the usual people in the industry I thought would be interested but got rejection after rejection and rejection. That was really hard—believing in the book so much, and getting “no” again and again and again. After all the rejection letters, I took some time off from thinking about it. The finished manuscript sat on my computer for almost a year, and at times I thought it might stay there forever. Then, one day, I was speaking at an event and met a woman who was in an abusive marriage and was trying to decide if it was time for her to leave. I talked to her for 30 minutes and made sure she was connected to some support back home, so she could make the safe choice for herself and her kids, but immediately I knew that I needed to get the book out into the world, no matter what.
So I decided to work with Morgan James, out of New York—they are a traditional publisher but operate on a hybrid model, which basically means they take less creative control over the process and share more of the profits from the book with the author. I submitted the manuscript in September of 2017 I think and before the end of the year, we were already making plans for a 2018 release.
What do you love about writing?
The release. I always felt this way about writing, before I even read the research, but the research is incredibly compelling. Addicts who are in recovery, for example, are more likely to maintain sobriety if they are writing regularly. Cancer patients respond to chemo treatments better if they are writing regularly. People sleep better, have better relationships and are in overall better moods if they are writing regularly. One study showed that if you write for as little as 20 minutes per day (creative writing, a stream of consciousness style—meaning here’s what happened, here’s what I thought about it, here’s how I felt about it) you can see measurable improvements in your mood. I definitely notice this to be true in my life. I’m better at my job, a better citizen, a better lover, a better friend, and all-around better person when I’m in the rhythm of recording my thoughts about my life.
What kinds of stories do you like to tell?
I like all stories! As long as they follow a narrative structure. I’ve learned so much about narrative structure from working with my friend and mentor Donald Miller in his company (StoryBrand). He’s been studying how stories work for over a decade, and it’s fascinating to me how taking the stories we already want to tell and putting them in a narrative framework makes them more interesting, more compelling, more captivating, and more effective.
1. If you were stuck on an abandoned island what five things would you want with you? (no rules)
- The book I was reading currently (which right now is The Winter of our Discontent by Steinbeck)
- Something to eat (if I have to choose one thing, it would be tacos!)
- A swimsuit
- A bottle of red wine
- My boyfriend, haha
I mean, then it’s basically a beach vacation right?!
2. If you could travel back through time where would you go?
There are so many interesting era’s I’d love to visit, and/but at the same time I think we’re living in the most fascinating, important, compelling and exciting time right now. You hear people talking these days about how our world is going to hell in a hand basket or whatever, but I disagree. What’s happening in our world right now seems chaotic because things are changing, finally, and change is always messy and chaotic. I’m learning to be grateful for the mess that comes after people start telling the truth. Because now we actually know what we’re working with. Until we have the truth, we have nothing solid to stand on, no place to start, no way to make progress.
3. If traveling to outer space became a real option where would you go?
I mean… I’m tempted to say nowhere! Haha. At the risk of sounding boring or unadventurous (I’d get on a plane and go to any continent tomorrow, so I do love adventure!) but I have very little desire to go to space. I prefer to admire the stars from a distance :)