Sunday, May 11, 2014

Opening to my memoir proposal: Thoughts, comments welcome!

“You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.”   - Walt Whitman

Two months after my husband and I left home to live on the road, I awoke in the grips of a seizure. Terrified, I thought I was dying. The diagnosis of a brain tumor seemingly came at a horrible time: It was our first year wedding anniversary, and we had no home. 

But soon this “medical adventure” became another part of our incredible journey. I was learning how to accept and learn from what life doled out. This story frames my memoir, illuminating other life experiences: the deaths of my parents and mentor, my search for sexual freedom, my struggles with finding the right paths as a writer and teacher, my developing sense of spirituality, the power of the mind, my life as a lesbian activist, the traumatic ending of my fifteen-year relationship to a woman, and my transition to loving men. 

The Footholds Will Appear: An Odyssey of Love, Sex, Spirit and Travel is a 160,000 word memoir about one woman’s search for an empowered, authentic life. Reflecting the nonlinear nature of time, the story is told non-chronologically, woven together by the thematic threads of love (spouses, family and friends), sex (erotic explorations and body consciousness), spirit (mortality and metaphysical encounters), and travel (various international locales). The book is peppered with photographs and evocative quotes from Walt Whitman to Ray Charles, from Dr. Wayne Dyer to Dr. Seuss.

The Footholds Will Appear will appeal to people who’ve dreamed about chucking it all and living a traveling life. Recently an explosion of books and blogs has chronicled those who live nomadically. Of course there is a long tradition of celebrating the open road, from Whitman to Keroauc to Bill Bryson. Books by traveling women have been big hits of late, all of which resonate with my memoir—books such as Eat Pray Love, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Wild.

Each of these books emphasizes the physical voyage as a transformational journey. That is another audience for Footholds: those interested in personal transformation, happiness, spirituality and consciousness. In that way, Footholds resonates with books like Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, Wayne Dyer’s I Can See Clearly Now, and Anita Moorjani’s Dying to Be Me

Dyer’s and Moorjani’s books speak to another sub-category of interest: Those who have survived life-threatening illnesses, emerging with a greater sense of spirituality and life purpose. While neo-spirituality books are hot, most are self-help. Footholds reveals life lessons through stories, illustrating how one woman put theories about deliberate living into practice.

Another subcategory of interest is sexuality. Memoirs by Jeanette Winterson and Alison Bechdel may be the closest to Footholds in terms of mining lesbian content. With same-sex marriage so much in the news, my book will draw attention because it depicts both a lesbian marriage and divorce. However, Footholds is different (and likely to be more controversial) because it portrays sexuality as fluid—and lesbian culture and relationships as rife with conflict as any other. Discussions of bisexuality and sexual changeability are getting more attention these days, as in Lisa M. Diamond’s Sexual Fluidity and via the Bisexual Book Awards (for which I served as a judge). 

Many readers are writers themselves, or aspire to be so. And many are teachers. The portrayal of literary and academic life in Footholds will draw these readers as well.

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