The secret is out. Now that my life is officially an open book, the world (I have friends on six continents) knows that I am not Wonder Woman. It is an image I struggled for a long time to preserve, but with the publication of Any Color but Beige: Living Life in Color I have given up that struggle. And I feel the lighter for it.
I didn’t intend to write a memoir and I certainly didn’t mean to bare my soul to strangers. Because up until recently, I have often said that I would rather chew broken glass than admit to any vulnerability. Ah, vanity!
On the surface I was calm, cool and confident as I shrugged off life’s slings and arrows, like some superhero in a movie. I’ve traveled the world for my job, lived abroad in some very nice cities and had a romantic life that was ripped from the pages of a Harlequin romance novel. It made for some sparkling conversation over cocktails with the girls for whom I put on my game face and pretended that my life was perfect.
But it wasn’t. The truth was I was in a blue funk nursing a broken heart and I didn’t know what to do about it. So I started to write. I poured my heart onto the page because I wouldn’t allow myself to cry. All of the emotion I felt went into my writing, and slowly I began to get my bearings.
Before I knew it, I had 200 pages of perspective. Having gone that far, I sent it off to a freelance editor for an evaluation. The minute I pushed “Send,” I felt a rush of embarrassment. What did I just do? I asked. I’ve sent 200 pages of total nonsense to a complete stranger. I was mortified. It took a month before I heard back from her and each time I thought about it, I’d squirm a little bit in my skin.
Much to my surprise, the evaluation came back positive and with it a long list of recommendations, one of which was to create a blog based on my experiences. The blog helped me build an audience for my book and hone my voice. It also helped me to get over some of the awkwardness I felt when writing about my experiences. I soon learned that what I had to say resonated with readers.
The blog was good practice for writing the final version of the book. Through it, I got used to gradually exposing me and my life. Because the blog preceded the publication of my memoir, and chronicled my life, it felt a lot like the gradual opening of rose – one petal at a time. At its core lay the sweet essence of my book.
Now when I think about the book, I think about the authenticity of its story. Now, rather than feel embarrassed, I feel relieved at having shared it. I used to think I was alone in my experiences. So many people have told me that they have found themselves on its pages that I realize the feelings of love and loss, happiness and disappointment and, most importantly, optimism are universal. And feelings are always better when they’re shared.
Photo: © iStockphoto.com/olandesina