And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
So before Today’s Moment started as Facebook posts, I had a reputation as a “dark” writer, a “disturbing” writer. “Edgy.” Edgy didn’t bother me so much, but dark and disturbing did. Of course, along with it came praise like “brave”, “honest”, and I have to admit, I like “in-your-face”. But that dark and disturbing – it made me wonder if I was dark and disturbed. I didn’t think so, but you know, there’s the world at large looking at you…
Just this morning, I spoke with a client about Oprah’s original book club. At the end of the first year, Oprah did a special show, with interviews of the authors, and she took questions from the audience. One woman asked, “Why do you choose books that are so depressing?” Oprah rocked back on her heels, and then said something along the lines of, “Why wouldn’t you want to read about redemption? Why wouldn’t you want to read about someone who survived something, came out the other side?”
I’m with Oprah.
In my own experience, my writer’s heart was broken with my novel Rise From The River. In that book, I tackled rape, abortion, and the Catholic Church. Not easy. And yet I witnessed women putting the book down as being too “dark”. And this was during the heyday of 50 Shades. I truly came the closest I ever have to giving up on writing. This is where the trip to Oregon and the sand dollar story came in (for those who don’t know the sand dollar story, it’s in the book Today’s Moment, under May 18, 2017). I fought my anger and I kept on going.
When In Grace’s Time was published, it was called “delightful”. I was delighted at delightful. What a change from dark and disturbing! And then Today’s Moment Despite The News hit, from Facebook posts to blog to book.
I can tell you the day I was asked to give a presentation about Today’s Moment and the Power Of Positive Thinking, my jaw hit the floor. Suddenly, I was the Queen of Positivity. Though I will say this – I always was. I don’t think you can write about the topics I’ve written about, still bringing it all to a redemptive conclusion, without being positive. I just wasn’t seen as positive…and suddenly, I was. Which was wonderful.
But now there’s book #9, a poetry chapbook called When You Finally Said No. Everything about this book caused me to hesitate where I’ve never hesitated before. When the #metoo movement began, I was profoundly affected. I watched as brave women stood up and raised their voices, often facing ridicule and disbelief. I applauded them. I looked back over poetry that I’ve written over a number of years and found many poems that covered issues brought up by #metoo. As I re-examined my own poetry, I saw a story. A redemptive one. From 13-year old rape victim to promiscuity to abusive relationships to finally gathering the courage and self-knowledge to say no, to the aftermath of that no. It was all there. Not written as a book, but spanned out over years of experience.
A story. But different. Because this is poetry. And because it’s my story.
But…dark. Disturbing. Me?
I hesitated as I put the book together. And I hesitated as I sent it off for its first submission. And then it was accepted on its first submission. Within weeks. With a handwritten note from the publisher. I shook as I signed the contract. But I signed it.
During the blurb search (where you look for people to read the book and write “blurbs” to appear on the back cover), I had three women who eagerly said yes and wrote amazing things. But I had a fourth that told me she couldn’t do it because of the topic. And later, she said, “I now know more about you than I ever wanted to know.”
And I very nearly pulled the book. But then I didn’t.
When my publicist suggested a launch, I wasn’t sure. It’s such a teeny book. 26 pages. But she checked around and a bookstore was interested in hosting it. And another bookstore is interested in doing a presentation in June. I relaxed a bit…and then the launching bookstore wanted to put up a “warning” on the door the night of the event.
And I nearly canceled the launch. But then some things happened.
First, a friend read the book. When I saw him, he held the book up and said, “I want my daughter to read this. This is important. This book is important.”
Then I went to another friend’s launch. She was doing a fundraiser for our local women’s shelter, as I will be doing too. A representative from the shelter spoke before the launch and she said the shelter’s new mission statement is to, among other things, “empower all those impacted by domestic abuse and sexual violence.”
My poetry book is all about empowerment.
And then I picked up a little rubber bracelet being given out by the shelter. Imprinted on it was “Your Voice Has Power.”
I slipped it over my wrist. And I am going to raise my voice high. Which is what I’ve always done. Always.
The When You Finally Said No launch will be on April 6, at 6:30 p.m. at Books & Company bookstore in Oconomowoc WI. You are asked to bring along a donation from the shelter’s wish list, which is diapers (especially sizes 5 & 6), laundry detergent (no dye, no perfume), and umbrellas. I hope you come. It will be a positive experience.
I am raising my voice. My voice has power. It was powerful in Today’s Moment. It will be powerful now. I am the Queen Of Positivity. I believe in survival.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.