Jenifer Lewis Talks Self Awareness, Mental Illness, Sex Addiction + More

Really enjoyed this interview with Lewis with the Breakfast Club. She got me pumped to finish my own memoir! I may be quiet and reserved but I love realness and I love people (as an introvert, extroverts keep me balanced lol). I love real people because life is real. The rest of ya’ll can walk around with your noses in the air and your high horses but I ain’t got that kind of time. Be real with me. I am the closest to people who just keep it 100 and this interview is pretty much that. I haven’t read her memoir yet but I am about to go get it. (Note: I try not to use profanity and posting this video should not be taken as consent that I condone it. Lewis is hilarious though.)

My favorite quote:

“Love yourself so that love will not be a stranger when it comes.”

Advertisements

10 Ways to Write an Unforgettable Memoir | Shayla Raquel

jeshoots-com-219386-unsplash

Check out this most excellent post from Shayla on writing a memoir. Number One is a most important point. I always wanted to write a memoir but I stopped writing the drafts and deleted the sneak peeks I’d shared with my email list (so embarrassing lol) and decided to start over. I’ve learned so much since then with one of the major things being the difference between a memoir and autobiography.

1. Learn the differences between a memoir and an autobiography.
A common mistake is to pour your heart and soul into a book and market it as the wrong genre. An autobiography is a chronological telling of your life, but a memoir hones in on a specific timeline or event. It doesn’t mean you can’t have flashbacks or backstory; you can. But you must understand the big and subtle differences between the two before you write, publish, and market your story.

Ask yourself:

  • Does my story reflect on my entire life (autobiography), or a key aspect, theme, or event (memoir)?
  • Does my story start at the beginning of my life and progress to the end (autobiography), or does it start anywhere and move around in time and place (memoir)?
  • Does my story require hours of fact-checking (autobiography), or is it more personal, requiring less fact-checking (memoir)?

“A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.”

—Gore Vidal, Palimpsest

Read more of Shayla’s Guest Post by clicking through to the original post here.

The Accident

“She shouldn’t have been running across the street!” said a familiar voice in the crowd.

It was Cousin Rachel and if I had the energy to throw a scowl her way I would have. I still had not felt any pain and only prayed now that I would live. I scanned the crowd, it appeared the entire neighborhood had come to see the event. Heads popped outside of windows, neighbors stopped in their places and strangers huddled together alongside family, shoulder to shoulder, as if shielding me from the outside and encasing me inside the core of the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, my fingers tingled with blood that raced toward the tips because someone was squeezing the life out of my left hand, and their tears kissed their apologies on top my skin. She was the woman who hit me and was knee deep in apologies and instant compassion consumed me. I forgave the woman over and over again while simultaneously praying I wasn’t going to die. But I was talking in my head again. The lady had not heard me, my mouth still had not moved, and my memory only went as far back as rolling off the hood of someone’s car, down the window and onto the ground. (For some reason I remember sliding down the window). Prior to this I was on a quest for ice cream and decided a quick dash across the street would grant me this prized possession. Needless to say I was wrong.

It wasn’t until I looked down at my right thigh that the full realization of what happened came to me: my right thigh was twice the size of my left one. Still, I felt no pain. I felt nothing in fact. I just lay there consumed by thought and words that had no sound. It wasn’t until the Ambulance arrived and I made the transition from the ground to the vehicle that the shock wore off and the excruciating discomfort started.

emergency-room-sign

The arrival to the hospital itself is a blur. I was in so much pain that everything seemed surreal. It turns out that I’d broken my leg, or more precisely, my femur bone (the longest bone in your body, located near the thigh). I remember staring into the ceiling, my little brown body highlighted against the white sheets. My mom was to my left as we waited for the doctors to return. My whole right leg had been wrapped in some kind of casing and the feel of it was that it was getting heavier and heavier as time passed. As I cried out in agony, I could not understand what was taking them so long to come back. I also wondered who had done this cruel thing as to wrap my broken leg in a cast, which made my leg so unbelievably heavy that I could not lift it and supposed then that it was not only paralyzed, but by the time the doctors felt like getting started I would have no leg left, for it was diving deeper into the bed and the mattress began to fold over.

Of course, none of this really happened. My leg was not wrapped in a cast and was not sinking into the bed.

When the doctors and nurses finally did return, in what seemed hours later, they started to cut my clothes off which added to my rising dislike of these people. I was wearing something really cute that now sat in shredded pieces of nothing. Meanwhile, in my head, I was explaining to no one in particular about the evil doctor who commanded his men to try and make my leg disappear and cut up my nice clothes. I’m sure he wanted to do away with me and I was being taken to a secret laboratory in which this would happen. I was just about to imagine what he was going to do when someone put a pill in my mouth. When I woke up I was laying in recovery with a steel plate replacing my leg, twenty-four surgical staples piecing me back together and surrounded by family.

check-up

I still remember when mama took me to my first check-up. I assumed the clever doctors had found me and sought to continue their plan. In my head, I’d been rescued by family who found a way to piece me back together and store me away in recovery. Now however, we were on our way to the doctor’s office and had to cross a big street that I’m sure came out of nowhere. On my journey to get across, I wondered what kind of technology they were using. I’d better be careful not to step on the yellow lines; it may activate some special gadget and suck me deep into the ground. Because my enemies had decided it was better that I use a walker instead of crutches, which I’d hoped to experience, it took me what seemed forever to get across the street. The evil doctors had done it this time, they were back and I was sure that they had somehow stretched the already wide road so that with each step I was not getting closer, I was only getting further and further away. I thought about telling mama about these corrupt men but I didn’t want to blow my cover. If she was protecting me they couldn’t know about it.

When we got to the office and they removed the staples, I was instructed by the doctor to move my leg back and forth but I couldn’t do it. My body had not all the way adjusted to the steel plate and told me this wasn’t a very good idea. Instantly, I stopped and threw a scowl the doctor’s way, “Way to go genius that hurts.” But I knew what he was trying to do. He was trying to kill me. I better not say anything, they may try to kidnap mom and throw me in that laboratory again.

*****

I would like to publish a memoir one day. While I am still undecided as to publish an entire manuscript, I have taken to writing down bits and pieces of my life story and publishing excerpts to this blog for practice. What you have read is the true story of when I was hit by a car at ten years old. Names of real persons have been changed to protect their identities.

Why Memoirs are Special

equipeng95“…it is difficult for those who publish their own memoirs to escape the imputation of vanity. Nor is this the only disadvantage under which they labor: it is also their misfortune, that whatever is uncommon is rarely, if ever, believed, and from what is obvious we are apt to turn away in disgust, and to charge the writer of it with impertinence.” – Gustavus Vass (Olaudah Equiano)

So, why do I want to tell my story? Why has the itch to spill the beans of my background always been with me? Some may call it a dream, but I call it a challenge. Of all the books I’ve written, writing my life story is one of my greatest challenges and I hope to conquer it real soon. I feel like I have not completely exhausted my writing endeavors until I have written a story of my life. I’ve danced with the idea off and on since childhood. Funny thing is before I was even finished living I knew I wanted to share my testimony. I’ve even gone as far as writing chapters and chapters, only to rip it up and start all over again. Truth is I am still learning all that goes into writing a memoir. I love the way

Maya Angelou for example, fictionalized herself in “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”. Not in the sense of creating a false image, but by fictionalized I mean she was able to present a real-life story that reads like fiction. To recreate real-life experiences that jump from the page with all of the excitement that comes from reading a good novel. Here, Angelou lends us her eyes and we are able to see her world in the most real, yet entertaining way possible. While there are various ways to which individuals have gone to write their stories, I imagine there is still an art to it; an art I am still learning to master and I hope to begin this journey real soon. (I’ll be 28 this year, maybe I should wait till I’m like 30 …yea, that’s a nice medium number….lol j/k, I know the next day’s not promised, let alone the next two years, even though it may just take that long, but I digress)

Primarily, I want to share my story because I am a person of a deep passion for helping people in the spirit of teaching. Not teaching in the organized setting of things, teaching the basic principle of acquiring and passing on information. Teaching in the sense of taking what I’ve learned and passing it on. I love sharing information and I believe information exists to be shared. And if it’s the right kind of information, it can be a positive influence in someone else’s life. Have you ever been in a room of darkness and found that after searching for some time someone turned on the light? And then you laugh at yourself for seeing the switch was right there? That’s how it is when someone has taught me something. I love advice because I love to learn. And I love to learn because I love discipline. If ever I’m hard on you, know it’s because I expect double from myself. As I tell my students, “Mediocrity is not an option. If you’re going to do something, do it well or don’t do it at all.”

In addition, I want to share my story because we live in a world that teaches us to fear our past transgressions, mistakes, experiences, trials, etc. The world tells us to keep our “skeletons in the closet” and to wear the impenetrable mask of pretentiousness. Not only have I never had the ability to not show my true feelings, but being transparent in my opinion is what helps build strong relationships, which is what the writing process is all about. There are ups and downs but the struggle itself is what helps to build character. It helps us to create a bridge of commonality between those who are still lost in whatever capacity and those who have found the strength to endure.

While we can write post after post about inspiration, nothing is more inspiring than truth. To see that someone is going through, or has gone through, what you yourself are going through and to witness their strength is more powerful than any quote I could ever give you. Our past, our burdens, and our moments of pain are not weaknesses. They are instead a showcase of humility; like a collection of light in a cistern of water that illuminates. It illustrates that the fruit of sorrow is unmistakably esteem and deliverance. And this is what I wish to share with my readers. Eventually.