When I first started writing, things didn’t go as planned. Hey honey, you okay if I write a book about our affair? Was not exactly the conversation I ever thought I would be having with my husband. I was working on a weight loss book. Not a book disclosing the all the hiding places and bones we’d buried together years earlier.
But my weight loss book was stale; I didn’t even have a good title for it. Every part of it was painful and I struggled to get it right on every page. The flow was all wrong and I just wasn’t feeling it. There was one other big problem too. It. Was. Boring. I nodded off writing it every time I sat down. I knew what I had to do. So I drank a bottle of wine and stuffed all 200 pages through the shredder. After shedding some intoxicated tears I went to bed and hoped for a revelation as to how I could not suck so bad. I vowed I would NEVER write anything boring ever again. I was done writing. I sucked.
Eventually I worked up the courage to start plunking away again decided to just doodle for a while. No pressure to be good—I only had to just keep sucking. I would write anything that came to mind, set myself free, lubricate my knuckles again with quick short movements. What came out was shocking, even for me.
I never planned on writing AFFAIRYTALE.
I was a weight loss junkie, health food nut, smoothie connoisseur who wanted to write about food stuff. I did NOT want to write about…having an affair.
A year later I was sitting on a barstool, my husband at my side—we were indulging in Bloody Mary’s. The kind you don’t need to eat a dinner with cause they come with the whole kitchen on a stick.
He looks over to me and says, “Hey, how is your weight loss book coming along, almost finished?”
My eyes focused on the pickle and shrimp on a stick and I held my breath—as I processed how to answer that question. A question I knew, eventually, I’d have to face.
I let out my breath and gritted my teeth. Then I slapped him on one knee and laughed. “It’s kind of a funny story.” I stuttered and let out a few syllables of the stalling kind. “Yeah, so, funny thing happened when I was writing that book. Um, it sucked. So I stuck it through the shredder.”
Eternally my biggest cheerleader, he gasped at the notion. “What? Of course it didn’t suck. Honey, why would you do that?”
I slurped down the remaining vodka and signaled for another. “It did suck,” I said, “it was boring and blah. So I started writing something else.”
His deflated look became revived with a new hope. “Oh. That’s great. Tell me about it.”
I drag out my words, not knowing how to tell him I’d just written a 95,000 word manuscript about he and I having an affair—the affair we said we would never tell anyone about. The affair that had turned both of our lives into the most meaningful, whole and happy existence we could have ever hoped for.
“I’ll tell you the title,” I say, “it looks better written than if I just say it out loud.” I grabbed a pen from the bar and a little white square napkin. With one hand covering what I was writing as if to shield him from cheating off my answers, I wrote down the amalgam, AFFAIRYTALE. I pushed it his way, took another large sip and stared straight ahead not wanting to see his response.
Silence hung between us for what felt like a year before I interrupted. “Well?” I said, prompting him to put me out of my misery.
“It’s clever.” He responded.
“It’s about us.” I say, my stomach about to throw up in my mouth from anxiety.
“I kind of figured.” He flashed a slim smile.
“Well, what do you think about that?”
“Even if its fiction once it gets out, people will know.”
“I know. That’s why it won’t be fiction.” I said, forcing a fake confidence. “I’m writing it 100% true to us as non-fiction. Since people will figure it out anyway. ”
He changes the subject. “Honey, don’t you want to get that weight loss book you’ve been talking about out there?”
“Yes and I tried but this book, AFFAIRYTALE kept me up at night, haunted me in my sleep, in the shower, on my walks, in yoga class. I didn’t want to write it I swear.” I pleaded with him to believe me.
“I actually tried NOT TO. But it just came out. And…” I let out a deep breath, “Something about it just feels right. I feel some type of I have to thing going on.”
A year or so after that conversation, with his consent and approval, as well as my daughters, I released AFFAIRYTALE. It hit #1 in its genre 30 days after its release on my 35th birthday. It was my first dabbling in writing seriously. Although Diaries and Journals, and Love and Romance in non-fiction are not goliath genres, it was still something. Something that told me, maybe I should keep writing. I had always wanted to, but nothing ever worked. Now, by some unknown measure, I had concluded that AFFAIRYTALE worked. And that maybe, just maybe, I could make something else work too.
I set out to write that dam weight loss book that had just never felt right, the one I couldn’t give up on even when I wanted to. Now it, had become the ghost that haunted my waking hours, snagging my attention and not leaving me alone. But it needed to be different than before. So, I did my old tried and true tactic I do when I need to say fuck it and just go with whatever it is that is plaguing me. I drank a bottle of wine and starting doodling. What came out was shocking, even for me. I mean, I know what a drunken vulgar sailor I can be, but I didn’t expect to put that easily judged side of me out there so publically.
Over the next 6 months, WTF am I supposed to eat? flowed easily and the title just felt right. I already had the knowledge that would make up the content; I just had to let it out in a way that was true to my soul. Which is apparently a very overtly sexual, perpetually sarcastic, foul mouthed soul.
In 2018 I have 3 fiction books lined up for release. I am as scared of breaking into fiction as I was that day I told my husband I wanted to divulge our secrets to the world. But just like on that day, for reasons I can’t explain or understand, I feel like I have to. And that just maybe, by some unknown measure, it will work.
*Originally Published in Urban Lit Magazine 2018