Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Writing Life by Cara Lopez Lee, Guest Blogger

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.

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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.

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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.

26 comments:

dirtywhitecandy said...

What a lovely snapshot of writing life. I've also given up a lot and chosen to live in the thrall of ideas, to make something out of them that is transparent and truthful. Best of luck with your memoir and thank you, Patricia, for hosting such an enchanting interviewee.

Karen Walker said...

The writing in this guest post is so lovely,I will definitely put the memoir on my to-be-purchased list. I love the image of fingers typing on thighs. Best of luck, Cara, with your book launch and tour. Thanks, Patricia.
Karen

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Thank you, Roz, aka Dirty White Candy - what a deliciously decadent name. I love the way you describe our obsession: living in "the thrall of ideas." Exactly. And with that, we gain so much more than we give up, don't we?

Cara Lopez Lee said...

I'm glad to hear you love the image of fingers typing on thighs, Karen. However, if you saw me do it in person you might find it a little unnerving, perhaps wondering if I were going to suddenly start twitching, or blurting expletives like someone with Tourette syndrome. Thanks for your kind comment and well wishes, and I hope you enjoy the book.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Since I'm going to be away from my computer most of today, I wanted to be sure I got my extra (and early) thank you in for joining us today, Cara. I'm looking forward to meeting you in person one of these days, and definitely looking forward to reading your memoir.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patricia - Thanks for hosting Cara.

Cara - Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I commend you so much on your choice to put your writing first. Billy Joel has said, "If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time." I applaud you for the way you've chosen to do what you love.

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Thanks YOU, Patricia. You're such a gracious host to Colorado writers, and I'm grateful to be one of them - both to be your guest, and a Colorado writer. I'm working on fiction these days, so I suspect we will meet soon, when I join Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I'm sure we'll have lots to talk about.

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Thanks for the Billy Joel quote, Margot. I'm a big fan of his music. I agree that it's important to do what we love. If we don't, it's easy to feel enslaved.

Ann Best said...

Thanks, Pat, for guesting Cara. Otherwise I wouldn't have met her. I'm looking forward to November 15th! I really do want to read this memoir.
Ann

Name: Luana Krause said...

Cara, thanks for giving us a glimpse of your spirit. Wishing you all the best in your writing life. BTW: You photo is lovely. Where was it taken? (I'm a photobug!)

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Thanks, Ann, for visiting... otherwise I wouldn't have met another reader, who also writes! I'm looking forward to November 15th, too! I hope you'll pop into my blog after you read the book, and let me know what you think.

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Oops, was my spirit showing? :) Thanks, Luana. The photo of my corporeal self was shot at CU Boulder. I can't remember exactly where, but I've had my photo taken at several spots around that lovely campus. It's so gratifying to hear that a photobug likes it.

Cricket McRae said...

Thanks for introducing us to Cara, Pat! I will definitely be reading this memoir when it comes out as it -- and Cara -- immediately piqued my interest. I'm already a fan of Nancy Lord (Fish Camp) and Heather Lende (If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name). They Only Eat Their Husbands looks like it will be right up my alley!

Cara, you sound like someone I'd like to meet. Naked writing takes courage, and I admire that a lot.
Hearth Cricket

Jenny said...

Cara, thanks for introducing yourself, and in such a compelling way. I'm going to visit your blog right now, and I look forward to reading your book.

Best of luck with your fiction, too!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Cara, your story sounds fascinating and I love the title of the book. I’ve added it to my want-to-read list.

Cara Lopez Lee said...

I'm so glad your interested in my memoir, Cricket, and only sorry I don't have any mysteriously eaten husbands to offer to you mystery writers. I just checked out your website and laughed out loud at the title of your latest, "Something Borrowed, Something Bleu." I love the cover with the knife stuck in the cheese: hilarious. The whole idea of a soap-making crime sleuth is inspired. What a tremendous sense of humor you have! Oh yeah, we should definitely meet. Are you a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers? I'm planning to join, so maybe I'll see you at an event. Looking forward to it.

Cara Lopez Lee said...

I'm so glad you found my words compelling, Jenny. Thanks. I guess being a touch obsessive-compulsive thing has its advantages. What would we write about with our human quirks, sacrifices, and losses?

Cara Lopez Lee said...

I'm so glad when people tell me they like the title, Jenny. My mother once asked, "That's just a working title right? Have you thought about changing it?" in a high-pitched voice that suggested, "What are you, nuts?" Thanks for putting it on your want-to-read list. I'm excited that so many women are interested!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

An excellent guest write, most enjoyable to read.
Thank you Patricia for having Cara as a guest.

Take care.
Yvonne.

Other Lisa said...

Cara, I can't wait to read the book! You're coming out to Los Angeles, right? Keep me posted! If I'm in town I will definitely be there...

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Aw, Yvonne. Thanks for your kind feedback.

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Thanks, Lisa! My Dad just confirmed last night: party at his place in Moorpark, next to Simi Valley, on Sat, Nov. 20! I'm working out the details this weekend, and I'll post something soon. I'm so excited to think you might be able to come!

I feel the same about your book. My book club has me scheduled for two other books first, and then I've decided I'm making "Rock, Paper, Tiger" our book club pick for my month, which is December. I have a feeling it's going to make me a big hit with my fellow-readers!

Patricia Stoltey said...

See why I love writers so much? This warm, friendly, and supportive conversation has been going on right here at my place on a day when I had to be away. You are all awesome.

And Cara, thanks so much for not only being the guest author but assuming the role of host today. I think you made a few new friends, and that's always a good thing.

Cara said...

Thank you, Patricia. It was fun chatting with everyone. You have such lovely followers. Can't wait to see you at my Girls Trek Too blog on Oct. 29th!

Monti said...

I'm late coming in, but what a great post! Something every writer can understand is that compelling need to write. Some days I never want to leave my computer, but that wouldn't be good for anyone. Caught up in blogging and other writing and promo activities, it gets ever harder to keep up. You may find me writing in the air as well!

Thank you, Cara and Pat...

Monti
MaryMontagueSikes

kimkircher.com said...

Cara, What a lovely post. I'm looking forward to reading your book. Isn't it true how writing makes us feel naked? And I agree, itis a strange combination of opening yourself up and also maintaining your privacy in order to be a writer.
Thank you,
Kim