Last Updated on: March 14th, 2018
This post is a combination of a
- unique guest post by author, writing coach, and micro-publisher Christine Cowley,
- an awesome video about “Simone’s Story”, which demonstrates the importance of writing and creating a memoir for others to have, learn from and enjoy, and
- a video of a Google Hangout of the two of us talking about the “makings” of “Simone’s Story”.
A while ago, Christine Cowley contacted me, in response to the promotional letter that I posted in April. We immediately “clicked”, and began emailing each other and talking via Skype. Once I saw the video she made and queried her about it, she agreed to reveal her video-making secrets to me via a casual recorded chat. So we “hung out” together one afternoon in a Google+ Hangout. (Hangouts are becoming more and more popular, by the way.)
Christine initially sent me what appears on the surface to be an email but is actually her guest post. It tells of how she and I connected, and why. I have included it in its entirety. Since I have plans to write and publish my own memoirs, I enjoyed connecting with Christine!
Christine’s Unique Guest Post
I found my way to Lorraine’s blog by way of a comment she wrote after one of mine on another site. I don’t know exactly what sparked my curiosity but it was one of the rare mornings when I didn’t have to rush around and so I indulged in a bit of surfing.
When I clicked over to Lorraine’s blog I couldn’t stop reading. I read many of her posts and all of the responses, then I read through the “about” page and the “guest” page and as I was reading I was thinking: what is it about this blog that is so compelling? I was so impressed at how many responses her posts received and the interaction that carried on through one after another…obviously Lorraine stirs something in people that makes them want to come back again and again, and to engage with her. So what IS that something that every blogger wants?
I realized that what Lorraine has is authenticity.
I sent her an email saying I would be interested in doing a guest post about the subject—and never having written a guest post on anyone else’s blog, I am simply following Lorraine’s lead and jumping in. So here goes.
I have thought about authenticity a lot. Mostly, because I hear from people that authenticity is what they get from me. I have no idea how it happens, or even when it happens. In fact, I only know about it if people tell me. So it’s not like I can turn it on and off at will. Although I haven’t been able to “manage” it, I have been able to understand it better.
One way I know my authenticity comes across is by being willing to be vulnerable. Notice I said, “willing to be” because there’s always a split second of choice where I know I can stop…not say or do that thing that’s going to expose my heart, my soul, my sacred self. Most of the time, I close it down. But every once in awhile, I take the risk. I have spent my entire life seeking to KNOW—not knowledge in the strict sense; I want wisdom. I want to understand. I need to understand. Before I leave the planet I want to squeeze dry every experience of my life for every lesson I can possibly learn.
It’s no accident that my work for the past decade has been helping people write their memoirs. But I always try to gently prod my clients to do more than relate the story of how they went from point A to B. I believe the real treasure lies in probing, uncovering and sharing what they learned from the experience. I confess, there are very few people who have been willing to risk sharing their insights. It can be a scary place of profound vulnerability.
Hang on a minute. I’m breaking one of the cardinal rules of good storytelling here: I am telling instead of showing.
So let me share a tiny part of my own story: I always knew I was a writer. I think I announced my intention to “become a writer” before I was six years old. My parents were underwhelmed. I was going to be a doctor, a lawyer, or at least a professional they could be proud of. There were many upheavals through high school and the end result was I decided not to go to university. It was an unspeakable, shameful disappointment for my parents. But then I made even worse decisions (in their eyes). At one of the lowest points in my life, years after my (Catholic) marriage ended, I had to swallow my pride and accept my parents’ help.
I would like to say there were no strings attached, but unfortunately, that was not the case. Nevertheless, had I not been willing to ask for their help I really can’t say where I would be, or more importantly, where my children would be today. It took many years to find my feet as a writer. Though I have been published in magazines since 1979, I didn’t have a book ready until many years later. In 2000, my first book was published by a small publisher with a tiny marketing budget, and in spite of a few decent reviews the book didn’t do much of anything. (A lot more needs to be said—another time!) But getting a book published was a ticket to play.
Once you’re published you get to call yourself an author. Doors open. (Okay, some doors can be opened with a big push.) I knew that if I didn’t take the dive to write full-time at that point, I probably never would. Through a lot of ups and downs and hard work I had managed to carve out a very lucrative career, so my boys and I were okay financially. I made the decision to move to my cottage up north to write full-time. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was still not ready to commit my life to writing.
After a huge health issue that dropped on me out of nowhere, I was left with bills to pay and the writing contracts I had were just not going to cut it. I stayed up north, but commuted to a town about an hour away to work for a good salary. I hated EVERY minute of that job. But the money was too good for me to walk away—until the game-changing moment when walking away was the only thing left to do.
I didn’t recognize the actual moment until many years later—there was no lightning from the sky or a voice out of the clouds. I had been at the soul-crushing job for a couple of years and had not even given a thought to writing—not even journaling. One day I was doing my taxes, going through files and digging out receipts, etc., and I ran across a paragraph I had written some years earlier.
I didn’t recall writing it, but it was obviously something I had written myself.
It was like getting cold water thrown in my face.
In trying to get on my feet to “live my dream” I had utterly abandoned my soul—the part of me that KNEW I was a writer—that no matter what the sacrifices, I had to write. I sank to the floor and wept. I heard myself say out loud, but in a tiny childlike voice, “Please. Don’t let me waste it.” I cried some more and then carried on with my taxes. And promptly forgot all about that moment between me and—whatever you want to call it: a higher power, my inner self, the Universe, God or Goddess.
Whatever or whomever that little prayer reached that day changed the course of my life.
Twelve years later, here I am, earning 100% of my living as an author, writing coach and micro-publisher. There have been many ups and downs and MANY times I wanted to throw in the towel and just “get a job.” In fact, I laugh at myself now when it happens because it’s almost become predictable—I get discouraged about a project, someone disses me, I get hit with a huge unexpected expense—all those challenges life throws your way just to prove to you that you need to keep making the decision, over and over, to SHOW UP for your life. YOUR authentic life. Not the one you were told to have, not the one your successful friend has, but your life. Rain, quicksand, bad knees and all.
This blog post is SO much longer than I anticipated. Not sure what Lorraine will decide to do with it, but here it is. And do you know, I feel it right here, in my throat—that moment of decision. Hit send or not? Here goes nuthin’! ~Christine Cowley
This is Simone’s Story, which touched something inside me, and made me contact Christine. I was curious as to how she made it. In our hangout, she tells me the story behind it. I highly recommend watching it, especially if you are a writer or are someone who wants a good reason to write your memoirs!
Here is the video of the hangout that we made, where Christine tells me about the makings of Simone’s Story:
Christine is the author of The Gift: Sharing Your Life Lessons with the People You Love Most. You can read sample pages here, and can buy it as an e-book or hard-copy from her website, The Gift Legacy. You can also check out her blog while you are there!
As always, I LOVE getting comments, and really appreciate the time it takes you for you to leave one!
What did you think of Simone’s Story?
What are your thoughts on writing memoirs?
Do you have any comments for Christine?
Speak up, please!!! (Even if it is just to say “hi”!)