How Caged Eyes Was Meant to Be

Okay, I’ll admit it: a few months ago, I told a little fib. In my post, “Feeling Some Envy? Great!! Get to Work,” I may have said something about not being very susceptible to jealousy. I only admitted to a few instances, and I overlooked a time when I was ripe with envy.

Several years ago, when I was fresh out of the Air Force Academy and making the decision to pursue a memoir, one of my friends who had done interviews in 2003 about her experiences there was being set up with a ghost writer. You see, my friend (whom I call “Becky” in CAGED EYES) had been on 20/20, and Larry King Live, and Good Morning America…and Oprah. One of Becky’s lawyers, Gloria Allred, set her up with a literary agent, who then set her up with a ghost writer.

Meanwhile, I wanted to tell my story too, but unfortunately, I couldn’t construct a sentence! As I mentioned in my very first post here on the Debutante Ball, I was a math girl to the core. Numbers always made sense to me, not words. So in order to write my book – sans ghost writer – I was going to have to learn the craft of creative writing. It didn’t take me long to realize that this would require years of dedication (and talented/patient mentors!).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful I did that work. I love being a writer today and I love that I was able to tell my story in my own words.

But back then I couldn’t anticipate any of those feelings. Back then I just wanted the work done for me. I wanted whatever path would potentially happen for Becky.

Becky’s memoir hasn’t materialized, at least not yet, and I’m thankful to TRAPPIST-1 and back (whops, my inner nerd is showing!) that mine is out in the world today.

Here’s the cool part, the serendipity part: Becky’s potential ghost writer was Helen Benedict. Helen’s editor is Gayatri Patnaik at Beacon Press. Do those names sound familiar? Out of all the editor’s in the publishing industry, I ended up with Gayatri as my very own!

When Beacon Press presented my agent and me with the publication offer, this connection helped. I knew I could trust Gayatri with my vulnerable work in part because Helen Benedict also trusted her.

The connection calms me, too. It gives me a sense that no matter how things had transpired for me, this story was always destined to be in Gayatri’s hands and with Beacon Press.

Me, Gayatri, and the first galley of Caged Eyes!


Author: Lynn K Hall

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.