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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
MAY
13

Mom

One of the first pieces of feedback I got on this book came from a friend who said something that surprised me. "My favorite character in the book was your Mom," he said. This baffled me. Not because my mom isn't the most angelic person on the planet, but because she's not exactly a main player in the book. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I seemed to remember that she was only even mentioned a handful of times. "Really?" I pushed back. "Yeah, she just comes across as so honest and real," he assured me. And he's not the only person who has commented to me about how well my mom comes out in the book. I guess it's impossible to conceal just how wonderful my mom is.

And on this Mother's Day, I find myself feeling weepy. Not only because my own mother is such a great example to me of goodness, but also because they keep playing that Johnson's Baby commercial ("You're doing okay, Mom") which if you have two X chromosomes is physically impossible to stay dry-eyed through. So in order to get an emotional hold on myself this evening, I'm leaving you with this rather entertaining gem. Not a Mother's Day poem by any means, but one of my BC favorites. Dedicated to my Mom...along with countless lanyards.

MAY
06

Feeding Back

Amusing things that I've heard so far:

"I have four sisters, and I feel after reading your book like I know you better."

"I feel like I've been inside your head for the last 25 years."

"I feel like I'm reading your diary. I'm impressed that you are THAT gutsy. Gutsy enough to publish your diary."

"It feels almost voyeuristic. Like I'm witnessing all these intimate moments. OK, voyeuristic is probably not the right word."

"I can't wait to see who plays me in the movie."

"Are you the next James Joyce or does all that lowercase mean that Amazon screwed up?"

"You bitch. I can't believe you said that about me."

I'm just kidding about that last one, although some of you might be thinking it. I will say that it has been rather eye-opening to put a book out there that talks about real people, many of whom I love and care about. Because while it was important to me to say exactly what I was thinking and feeling and witnessing at the time, it has literally crushed me to learn of a few people's feelings who were hurt by the book. Discussing this topic--the seemingly dark side of being totally honest--with a former college English professor of mine, he reminded me of a passage from Betsy Lerner's A Forest for the Trees:

"Let’s face it, if in your writing you lift the veil on your family, your community, or even just yourself, someone will take offense. . . . If you write what is most pressing, you are revealing thoughts, secrets, wishes, and fantasies that you (and we as readers) would never otherwise confess to. Most writers, like most children, need to tell. The problem is that much of what they need to tell will provoke the ire of parent-critics, who are determined to tell writer-children what they can and cannot say. Unless you have sufficient ego and feel entitled to tell your story, you will be stymied in your effort to create. You think you can’t write, but the truth is you can’t tell. Writing is nothing if not breaking the silence. The problem is, no one likes a snitch."

As a sidenote, if anyone is looking for a great book about writing, this one is my favorite. I marked this passage (along with many others) the first time I read through it, which was ten years ago. But as to the passage itself, to me it so perfectly captures the dilemma in which I now find myself, and will probably continue to find myself as I write more memoirs. "Maybe you should stick to fiction," someone told me while discussing this very topic. Which would perhaps be the safer thing to do, and I totally would if my brain could think up a story half as entertaining as real life. Until then, I can only stick to what I know. Hey, it's either this or poetry. So consider yourselves lucky.

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APR
29

The Party Dress

"There is one day even the most cynical New York woman dreams of all her life," Carrie Bradshaw narrates in a classic SATC episode. "It's her book-release party." Of course, unlike Carrie, I'm not a New Yorker, neither do I have a big publishing house to throw me the bash of the century, but I admit I'd been looking forward to my little party for quite some time. It's always nice to be honored at a party, but usually the reasons for the soirees in my life have been things that I accomplished (like turning 1 year older) without really doing anything special. But this party marked the end of something I've been working on for years, something truly worth celebrating, and I couldn't help but think all throughout the party that I was so glad to be on the other side.

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I'm not into designers and labels the way Carrie is, but that said, I did put some thought into my party dress. While in New York last month, I purchased a rather expensive dress on Fifth Avenue, thinking I could wear it to the party. But shortly after I returned home, I received in the mail what I wait anxiously all year for: my birthday coupon from Anthropologie. My style is much more Anthro than Lord & Taylor, so I decided to buy a second dress option and choose between the two. They were both good options, which is why I can't really explain how I ended up going with neither dress and instead found myself digging out the vintage-esque red number that I bought second-hand. I bought this dress ages ago while visiting my sister. I think she was surprised to see it in my hands, not that I could blame her. Because it's the kind of crapshoot purchase you know is either the cutest thing you've ever worn or the ugliest. And last time this happened (the purchase was a pair of capri overalls), I guessed wrong. They were hideous. But I had a feeling about this red dress. All it needed was a hem job (I'll never understand the mid-calf length) and voila:

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Did I look like a Grandma? Possibly. But did I feel totally at ease and comfortable and completely like myself? Absolutely. And for a party that's all about you, it's important to feel good in your own skin. The only thing I really should have worked out beforehand was my signature. I didn't think it would be that hard to come up with lovely little personalized messages on the spot, but let me just tell you, the mind goes blank people. About the best I could come up with was, "Happy Reading!" Seriously? Happy Reading?? I've got to come up with something better than that. I'm a writer, for crying out loud.

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APR
19

Potty Mouth

It's a little entertaining to me that the topic that has many of my early readers all abuzz is the swearing contained in the book. In truth, I don't really swear much (read: at all) in real life. But as a writer I find some sentences just beg for those words. Inserting them effectively into pivotal moments then is either a gift, or it's simply justification at its finest.

My favorite college English professor is reading the book this week, and he sent me a note saying that he--get this--admires the way I use swear words in my writing. "How did you learn to swear so well?" he asked. Since I grew up never actually using these words, I guess you could say it came to me naturally. Like chess to Josh Waitzkin. He further told me that I have great comic timing, use [swear words] intelligently, and that they don't seem gratuitous. Let's just say that compliments on my ability to swear are not among those I ever thought I would be getting.

Another amusing story came from a girl who grew up with me in a neighboring Oregon town. She loved the book, even read bits of the b-school chapters to her husband as he was packing for--get this--the final trip of his MBA degree. She told me she recommended the book to her siblings, but did warn them about the swearing in case that swayed them one way or the other. Not to be deterred, one of her sisters responded, "I want to read Tali Nay's swearing book!" Which is about the most hilarious thing I've ever heard.

True that the book does contain some adult-ish content, so just be prepared. Or maybe read it first if you're the parent of teenagers who want to read it. But I can promise you this: they hear a lot worse in the halls at school. See what I mean? Justification at its finest.

APR
14

Let the Wild Rumpus Start

I'm happy to report that Schooled is officially buy-able! I've included the links just below the cover picture on the right, but you can find the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace. I'm still working on getting it up on iTunes, so stay tuned on that one.

As the first few readers have gotten back to me with feedback, it feels sort of like an out of body experience. Or maybe that's not the right way to put it. It just feels like this shouldn't really be happening. The concept of having readers was always so abstract, and now it's almost like, "Wait, what? You're reading my book?" People have told me the book makes them laugh, makes them cry, and makes them remember back to their own memories in school. Which was exactly what I was hoping it would do. One reader told me this week that he stayed up until 2:00 AM reading because he didn't want to put the book down. As an author, that's probably the best thing I could possibly hear. Except maybe, "We'd like to pay you a million dollars to publish your book."

Remember, take this book for what it is...ie. not the Great American Novel. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, and that's fine. But if you do like the book, the best thing I could ask you to do would be to please tell your friends and families about it. Remember, this is grassroots. Or maybe the best thing I could ask would be for you to put a review up on Amazon. Or maybe it's to contact me offline if you'd be interested in giving away any of my darling marketing postcards. However you choose to proceed after reading the book, I do hope you choose to tell someone else about it. And I hope it inspires you to get out your yearbooks, look up that old crush, and send a note to your favorite elementary school teacher. Unless he/she's dead, in which case you sort of missed your chance. Hey, you could always write a book.

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TaliNayBooks I think that's how you know it's a good book.
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