I’m delighted to introduce Cara Lopez Lee, fellow Coloradoan and author of They Only Eat Their Husbands: A Memoir of Alaskan Love, World Travel, and the Power of Running Away, coming November 15, 2010 from Ghost Road Press. How can you resist checking into a memoir with a title like this? I couldn’t. The first time I saw the book mentioned, I went straight to Cara’s blog, Girls Trek Too, to see who she was and what the title meant. Cara blogs to inspire women to approach both life and travel as an adventure, a very worthy goal in my opinion.
You’ll find more information about Cara’s book, including review comments, from the book’s page at Ghost Road Press. And now I invite you to enjoy Cara’s words about her writing life.
My Writing Life by Cara Lopez Lee
Sometimes when I’m talking to people, my fingers spell the words we’re saying, handwriting or typing against my thigh or into the air. It’s an embarrassing obsessive-compulsive tick, driven by love – the love of words, and the stories they can become.
When I was a child, my father used to catch me sitting in a chair staring into space.
“I was making up stories in my head, Dad,” I now explain.
“I knew that,” he says.
I’ve always been transparent.
Soon I’ll be naked for all to see, when my memoir, They Only Eat Their Husbands, comes out. That’s the word I often say to myself when I write: “Naked. You must be naked.” No, I don’t write in the nude . . . much. But if you’re not famous like Justin Bieber, or unusual like the woman [Dr. Temple Grandin] who overcame autism and now teaches ranchers to slaughter cattle humanely, then naked honesty is your most important asset as a writer. Sure, my premise might grab readers – my relationships with alcoholics in Alaska, and my backpacking trip around the world to recovery – but only honesty will keep their attention.
If honesty is half of my writing equation, then the other half is sacrifice, not only from me, but also from my husband, family, friends, and even my garden. Sudden inspiration has ruined many a movie-night, and hours of intense focus have occasionally led me to forget to water my flowers. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have children. I like to think I’d give them this much attention, but we’ll never know . . .
The biggest sacrifices began a few years ago, when I gave up working as a TV writer/producer, to give me time to finish my manuscript. I switched to freelance book writing and editing. We lost a third of our household income. My husband and I now wear frayed clothes, rarely go on dates except to hike, and have yet to fix up our fixer-upper house. On my book tour, I’ll drive my dented, rattling ’95 Honda Civic Hatchback, stay in hostels, and surf couches.
Perhaps the hardest sacrifice for my husband has been my constant refrain, “Will you listen to this?”
“Only if you don’t ask my opinion,” he replies.
I once asked him if he’d rather I go back to a normal job. “No way,” he said. Our lives are happier when I’m having an affair – with words.
I’m now writing a novel. Though it’s fiction, the need to be naked continues, the need for characters that reflect my honest sense of people. This act of creation is stressful, especially on top of client writing, marketing, and blogging. Sometimes I wake screaming from nightmares. Yet I can’t wait to sit at the computer again.
So, if you ever meet me, and you see my fingers wiggling, please understand: it’s just my stories struggling to escape. Writing can be a painful obsession. But it’s worth it, for the joy of seeing my words set free to share the naked truth.
Thanks for being here today, Cara. I hope your memoir is a great success. You can count me among those who are eager to read your story.
And for those who love the outdoors and want to see a little piece of Colorado and why we love it so much, watch Cara’s film Hiking to Blue Lake, which is posted on her blog.