Laura Munson is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, This is Not the Story You Think It Is. Laura shares her story of graduating from Writer to Published Author.
Most writers allow themselves fantasies, unless they're truly in it for bloodsport. For the last twenty years I've tried to tame mine. Fourteen books completed (not fourteen good ones) and a few that almost went all the way didn't make much fodder for fantasy. But 'tis true I'd catch myself dreaming of young writers raising their hands like kids at a birthday party eager for you to open their present, 'Tell me about your process!' 'What's it feel like to have a Pulitzer?' 'Tis true.
Last year I wrote an essay based on an unpublished memoir I'd written a few years prior. The essay was published in the New York Times and there began the ride of my life thus far. Suddenly I had a book deal with one of the hottest editors in New York. Suddenly I was on a successful book tour from coast to coast. Suddenly I was being interviewed by a former presidential press secretary on national television.
I didn't write my book with any intention of it becoming an international bestseller, landing on the New York Times Bestseller list. I wrote my way through a crisis because as a writer, that's how I process life. It's my prayer, my meditation, my practice. My way of life. And sometimes, in this case, my way to life. The message simply struck a chord. Tapped into a need to hear that we don't have to suffer. Even and especially when the person we love tells us they don't love us. It is possible not to take that personally. It is possible to be responsible for our well-being even when hurtful words are flung our way. It is possible to practice non-reaction even when the world tells us we have to fight to win.
I offered a different solution. I offered the freedom that lies in surrender. The power of the present moment in which we can create our lives and choose not to be victims. I was ready to live like that. After touring all over the country it is my belief that many people are ready to live like that.
So what was it like, having those eager hands lift upward? What was it like to hold a mic and say, after 20 years of pining away for these words to exit my heart and mouth, 'Thank you to the Tattered Cover Bookstore for hosting this event and to all of you for being here?' What was it like to have the trajectory finally met?
Of course it felt wonderful. But it also felt natural. When we are ready for something, and it comes (perhaps because we are ready for it), it feels natural. Even though it means so much to achieve my author's statement: I write to provide relief for myself and others, I know that the relationship is between the reader and the book. I created something that people are relating to. Maybe that's the definition of success. Maybe that's the 'there': creating something. And giving it away.