Alive at 5 (am) – My Writing Journey Today – Leisa Greene – EARLY OUT a Memoir.
My talented, social media savvy friend Lydia Aswolf extended a Blog hop invite to me a little over a week ago to write about my
writing process. She said, “As a rule, I don’t do these things, but it was for a dear friend and guest of the show (I count YOU as a good friend and guest of the show, too), so I’ve got to follow through. Plus, you know I love promoting you. So there.” Lydia has
been an incredible supporter of me since we first met on twitter well over two years ago now. She was my first official interview on her radio show, Lydia’s Literary Lowdown, and I have never felt more honored. Lydia also invited me to do a #FridayFive feature interview for the IT consulting firm she works for, B Resource. Not only that, this power house of a woman continues to encourage and motivate me to write; she genuinely loves the story I’m telling about my boys coming out early in life and the challenges my family has faced.
How can I deny her? I can’t! Nor, would I want to. So Lydia, for you and for all of those wondering where I am at with my memoir EARLY OUT, here you go.
I’ve been working on EARLY OUT since January of 2011. Last year I thought the book complete with eleven chapters, until I took it to a workshop. My peers read over a couple of my chapters and loved it. They said things like: “You’ve got me.” “I’m all in.” “I can’t wait to read more, what a story.” Then I heard, “Where are you in the book Leisa? After all, this is a memoir, right?” I said, “I am insignificant, the story is about my boys.” All eight readers in the workshop disagreed. They informed me that while they read it they wanted to know how I felt when people called my son Dustin “gay”. They wanted to know why I was on the phone with him, instead of in a face-to-face discussion. They wanted to know why I was absent and about my church life prior to the boys coming out. Before the writing workshop, Lydia also made reference to wanting more about my life in the Mormon Church and the catalyst that caused me to leave. During the workshop, I was asked by the instructor if I had written the nucleus of the story yet. I hadn’t. Well, I thought I had, but in fact I realized I’d only written the nucleus piece on the boys, not me. After all, I was adamant about leaving “me” out of it. I decided to write the nucleus piece, wrote it, and then I wrote about writing the nucleus on my blog. After that, fear set in and I didn’t pick up writing on EARLY OUT for a long time. Oh, I had excuses: a memorial for my mother, a new job, adjusting to the new job and very little time. But, that is what they were, excuses. Truth is I was afraid, afraid of telling it all. Afraid of who I am. Afraid of writing the hard core truth about why I was an absent mother during one of Dustin’s most difficult times in his life.
My writing is different from others of its genre because, for a memoir, I am taking some serious creative license. I’m pushing the limits of a memoir and writing parts of it like creative nonfiction. Specifically, in some of Dustin’s chapters I wrote it in third person omniscient, like I am in his head and know exactly what happened. I realize in a memoir this makes me an unreliable narrator and could mean death to the book. I also recognize that I must tell the reader that I have had long discussions with Dustin about this time in his life, and prior to when I go into the first person narration say something to the likes of “as Dustin tells me the story, this is how it plays out in my head.” What will be edited out, and what will remain, has yet to reveal itself to me. My editor may slash the hell out of it! I’m ready for that.
I first started writing this book to tell my boys story. I believe it is important for people to know their journey and what it was like for both of them to come out early, in semi-rural small town with a tight Mormon church community, go through the trials they did, and be healthy and happy young men. I want people to know their bravery. My hope is that it could help one person and if it does that makes the story worth telling. Now, I’m also writing it for me. It’s pretty simple really. There is something I want to learn about myself that I have yet to discover. I want to dissect that time in my life to understand. What yet, I do not know. I write in order to piece it all together, make it clear in my head and learn about what caused my drastic change to become the person I am today.
My writing process has changed drastically. It had to. I used to write in the evenings. Now, after working all day I rarely find the time to write. I am fortunate that I work with a number of writers and mentors. Recently, I explain to Professor David Moore about how I’m feeling because I’m NOT writing. I told him I’m becoming cantankerous. I don’t have time to write my own story. It’s itching at me, making me a little crazy. I told him that at first I avoided writing my story out of fear and took a long time away from writing it, now all I want to do is get it out, but when? David said to me, “Do you know what Kevin Canty told me once? ‘Writer’s write.’ You need to write. You have to find the time. How about early in the morning?” We discussed it a little more and I made the decision and promise to him that I would get up at 5 am and give it a try. To my amazement, it works! I treat it like my job and the first thing I do every day is write. I journal it first, by hand, then on the weekends I type it up. Typing it later is becoming an editing process for me. I have to admit, I’ve missed the past few weekends typing up what I wrote during the week, but I’m still writing every day. I haven’t stopped. My fiancé Kurtis notices that I am much happier. I feel like I am actually accomplishing something every day with my own personal writing, no longer ignoring the ache.
The fear shows up in my head and still picks on me. It tells me I should worry about what I am revealing in the words I write about myself, but I still write every day. I wake up alive at 5 am; my mind is free from noise, the talk in my head gone. At work, David asks me about my 5am writing experience and he talks of a 1930’s writer whose words are still relevant today, Dorothea Brande, who wrote Becoming a Writer and Wake Up and Live! Brande discusses getting up early when your mind is clear and writing in your journal first thing in the morning for two years straight. This is how you become a writer. David shares with me, “Leisa, I’ve been thinking about you every day. Brande says in her book that writing first thing in the morning is when the real writing and what she calls “magic” happens.” I don’t know if I am writing magically, but I do know that I am alive at 5am deep in my writing. Maybe my prose is more raw and real. Magical? I really don’t know. I do know that the sublimity of this early morning action was not mine to hold, grasp, or even recognize until I tried it. One day, I will get that personal discovery I am searching for. One day, I will share my words with you.
Below are the great people who volunteered to share with you their writing journey next week. Read about them and follow their blogs. Better yet, read about their writing and artistic journey next week.
My good friend -> Stephanie Neighbour – StephanieNeighbour.com
I was born and raised in New Jersey where I still live today with my two lovable but unruly dachshunds, Chip and Autumn. After graduating high school, I attended Monmouth University and received my BA in 1989. I pursued a wide range of careers including everything from working as a bartender, personal trainer, probation officer, owning a fitness center and finally, real estate sales.
I never found myself fully content with any of my endeavors because my creative side was there; quietly nudging me to find an outlet. I’ve always had the ability to make people laugh; usually at my own expense. It wasn’t until I enrolled in some comedy classes that I discovered I enjoyed writing humorous content as opposed to telling scripted jokes; not to mention my social anxieties. Have we discussed those yet? I’m sorry, you’ll have to read my blogs to learn about what a nut I am not to mention, the rest of my family.
I began writing my first collection of short stories that I’ve titled, Least Likely To Succeed and I hope to have that released quite soon. Until then, please enjoy my blog, follow me on social media and take advantage of our free email subscription to receive all new posts sent directly to your email.
Lee Hulme – Miscellaneous Geekery
Writing stories, blogging and connecting with other like-minded people has been a true blessing in my life. Although my personal projects tend to be rooted in humor, I find it very easy to adapt to the needs of my freelance clients and other projects. I have developed content for volunteer groups, newspaper and magazine articles, brochures, blogs, website development, marketing/advertising, law offices and college instructors. I believe the ability to adapt and diversify is paramount to one’s success so with that said, I look forward to assisting you with your next project. In the meantime; sit back, relax and have a few laughs. Welcome friends.
Lee Hulme is a writer/producer with 8 Sided Films as well as being a fiction writer as Angie Hulme, they have written multiple books, the most recent being A Rotten Core – a twisted take on the idea of the fairytale and the “happy ending”.
With 8 Sided Films they act as the House Manager for the community and ensemble, co-produced the recent webseries SASSxACCELERATION, and are embroiled in production for Quantum Theory, Man and Machine and their own lead project A Changeling Love Story. They are also in the process of taking their years of storytelling over to a new format, currently working on putting together a livestream theatrical project which is to be a modernized, feminized, queer production of a Comedy of Errors.
Tyler Seiple – The Integral Actor
Tyler Seiple is a Los Angeles-based actor, writer, producer, and director. He is an active member of 8 Sided Films, In Attendance Entertainment (which he co-founded), Fugitive Kind. live. theatre., and Stuart Rogers’ Studios (since 2009). His professional film credits include the award-winning Separation Anxiety, Traveling Salesman, the upcoming Quantum Theory, and Man and Machine (which he is also producing). He has also acted in the explosive webseries My Roommate the …, and he has appeared in, directed, and produced a genre-spanning variety of short films. He has appeared onstage in over 40 plays, ranging from classics such as Measure for Measure and The Bacchae to contemporary bulwarks such as The Producers and The Crucible. Tyler has appeared in ten world premiere plays by playwrights such as Catherine Filloux, Mihai Maniutiu, and Charles Mee – as well as creating three solo shows. He also helped create The Hamlet Project with the If/Then Ensemble in 2012, finally uniting Shakespeare and drinking games for appreciative L.A. audiences. He earned his Master of the Fine Arts at the University of California, Irvine, and he is an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®. He is also the founder and lead coach of phonetic phreedom™, a speech coach service founded in Knight-Thompson Speechwork.