2017: The Year of the Second Book

 

I’m going to finish my second book this year.

No, really, I will. Yes, I’m serious. Yes, I said that last year. Yeah, okay, I said that the year before. It’s different this time.

Some days I’m frustrated with myself that yet another year has passed and I haven’t finished my follow-up memoir, the recovery half of my story, the story of how climbing Colorado’s highest peaks helped me mend after the ordeal I described in Caged Eyes. The thing is that I’ve had plenty of time to finish this book. I’ve been lucky enough not to work full-time for a few years, and as I’ve been looking for an agent and a publisher and then a publication date, I certainly could have made the room in my life to work harder at it.

Here’s what I’ve realized: writing requires a certain mindset. I would argue that’s even more true of a memoir. It’s been impossible for me to write a memoir about feeling whole when I’ve been beaten up and broken down by the process of writing and publishing the first memoir, Caged Eyes.

(Is that surprising that I’m confessing I’ve felt broken down by publishing a memoir? It’s true, I have. That isn’t to say that I’m not better off for it and in the end, I’ll feel like the journey comes full circle and takes me to a place where I’m stronger for it. All I’m saying here is that there’s a reality to memoirs and book publishing and I’m still in the thick of things. Lidia Yuknavitch once validated this sentiment when she told me that writing her memoir almost killed her, and publishing it almost killed her too. I’m thankful she was so real with me.)

Back to my 2017 resolution: to finish the second memoir! No, no it isn’t. It’s to make the most of the year and to find peace with whatever that ends up being. So my resolution is to accept that the timing of my follow-up memoir will work out as it should.

I had this same angst about Caged Eyes. I kept thinking it should be done already and was always asking myself what the hell was taking me so long. But you know what? I finished Caged Eyes when I was meant to. When I had the insight to write it in the best way possible. And when it is published on February 7th, I will be at a point where I am most ready emotionally to have my story out in the world.

The truth is that in the next few years, I might gain understanding and find the words to better articulate what the journey to climb Colorado’s highest peaks meant to me. That isn’t to say the meaning of the journey will change the older I get, but my interpretation of the experiences will.

So instead of beating myself up for not finishing it, I’ll keep focusing on making the small progress that I do. And I’ll focus on trusting that this book journey will unfold as it was meant to, just as with Caged Eyes.

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Lynn Hall is a memoirist, activist in the movement to end sexual violence, ultra-runner, and crazy cat lady. Her memoir, CAGED EYES: AN AIR FORCE CADET’S STORY OF RAPE AND RESILIENCE, was published by Beacon Press in February 2017. Her writing has previously appeared in the New York Times, The LA Times, Hippocampus Magazine, The Sexual Assault Report, The Manifest-Station, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and elsewhere. In the summers, Lynn copes with publication anxiety by spending too many days in the Colorado mountains, and in the winters, with pans of brownies. She lives in Boulder with her partner and their 23 cats. Just kidding…she only has five.

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This article has 3 Comments

  1. Lovely post, Lynn. Congratulations on a brilliant first memoir! For 2017, I’d like to suggest, you be kind to yourself! The perfect time will come to write your second, probably sooner than you think. Happy 2017!

  2. I love all of this and am in awe of you. This too: Here’s what I’ve realized: writing requires a certain mindset. I would argue that’s even more true of a memoir. It’s been impossible for me to write a memoir about feeling whole when I’ve been beaten up and broken down by the process of writing and publishing the first memoir, Caged Eyes.
    Bravo, girlfriend. xo

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