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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
APR
02

Celebrating the Handoff

I gave my new manuscript to the editor this morning. She might hate it. She might tell me it doesn't work. In which case I'll be pretty discouraged. But that's always the risk you take when you put a piece of yourself down on paper. Particularly when that self is so very ordinary.

But no matter. Because whichever way this goes, tonight I'm celebrating that I've written a new book. It's such an accomplishment. And while as a woman--and a relatively worry-warty one at that--I've become an expert at feeling like I'm not enough, like I'm disappointing others, like I'm not living up to my potential, and like everyone in the office finds me kind of annoying (even though I threw the most amazing chili cookoff last month), tonight I am nothing but proud.

 

MAR
25

The Editor

I'm preparing to do my final read-through of this darn manuscript before handing it over to my editor next week. It really is a bummer that even as your manuscript gets tighter and better as the read-throughs continue, you start to genuinely dislike it. The repetition. The many revisions and re-revisions. The fact that you can recite so much of it for memory that you fear your eyes may simply be glossing over entire pages without really paying attention. By this point I am, as per usual, convinced no one will ever want to read this thing. Probably a good sign that it's time to hand it off to someone else.

When my editor reminded me today that it's been five years since she edited my first book, it seemed a bit hard to fathom. Five years. It's not a huge amount of time, but it is nonetheless significant. The first little chunk in roundable figures. Five years. In so many ways, I feel like I'm in a much better place now. I've cut the tie with Corporate America. I finally left a city I had outgrown. I've become a gemologist. I pursued a dream and it worked out. I got to live in my beloved Manhattan. I tried a pixie cut. I've written three books.

Of course, in a few ways, things are worse, too. I lost a love, a future I very much wanted. I've perhaps lost some amount of faith as well. Not just in the world and the goodness at its core, but also in a belief system that becomes ever harder to embrace in its entirety. And I've obviously lost some youth, creeping ever closer to the point at which I can no longer consider myself young at all. None of these losses are insignificant.

But overall I have to be happy with where things have shaken out over the five years since I picked up one of those Guide to Literary Agents books and began looking for a kindred spirit--or, at the very least, someone who thought I had talent. Given where I sit at this moment (at my writing desk, looking out at the palm trees in my front yard and enjoying the cool ocean-laced breeze coming in through the window), I have to conclude I made a good choice.

MAR
21

Rethinking Peridot

It probably stands to reason that if you royally slam peridot in your second book for being the hands-down ugliest birthstone, you will inevitably be seated at dinner next to the jewelry designer your company is hosting who just happens to be wearing one of the largest peridot pieces you've ever seen in real life. In that moment you'll have two choices: you can continue to be a peridot snob and eat your dinner the same way you eat your dinner every night. Or you can ask her to hand over the honking thing and eat your dinner while wearing more carat weight than you've ever even tried on.

I chose the latter.

And I would choose it again.

And that, peridot, is the closest to a love letter you'll ever get from me.

MAR
11

Growing out a Pixie - Part 2

I have an exciting announcement. My stylist says I'm officially in "bob" territory. You'll recall that the last time I checked in on this subject (Growing out a Pixie - Part 1), I'd had someone that very day tell me I really needed to do something about my hair. And even though my hair is to a point now where it actually looks like something a person might do on purpose, I still get comments. Within the same 24-hour period last week I had someone say "Your hair is adorable that length," and someone else say, "Are you growing your hair out?" and then cringe when my answer was yes. "Why?" they asked. Um, because I miss having hair? Of course I already feel 1000 times more ordinary, even with a bob. But whatever. Here's to changing it up.

MAR
04

To Procreate or not to Procreate?

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I read a book recently that had been written as a series of essays by writers who had each, for one reason or another, decided not to have children. Each author spent his or her essay largely explaining this decision. I find books on particular lifestyle choices interesting (a la Spinster), particularly if they are choices that I have made as well. Not that my reasons are the same as any of this book’s contributing authors. I am choosing not to have children because I don’t want to be a single parent, not because I don’t want children. Were my circumstances different (ie. if I could find the right man), I would welcome the opportunity. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about.

What struck me while reading these essays was how many of the authors mention an unwillingness to give up their career as a contributing factor—many times a significant one—in their decision not to have children. It might seem an odd thing, since, especially in this day and age, having both a career and a family is very do-able. But keep in mind the authors of these essays are all writers—full-time writers—and that kind of career is an entirely different animal. You’re at home all day, for starters, and that in and of itself—that at home is where you need to be your most productive—can make the idea of children very off-putting. These writers told of how even just the thought of a child pulling at their arm while they sat typing or journaling was enough to 1) make them realize it would simply never be possible to do both, and 2) fill them with acute hypothetical guilt over neglecting this hypothetical child. Point 1 makes me think of something I read in Joni Mitchell’s biography. When she was still quite young, Joni had a baby girl and gave her up for adoption. The decision tore her up, but she said some decades later that had she not made that decision, her career in the music industry would have never happened. It simply wouldn’t have been possible. So I get it. I do. And I am personally quite glad for her decision, as “I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet” is one of my favorite lyrics ever penned.

Point 2 makes me think of what happens every evening and weekend when I sit down to write and my cat jumps up and tries to fight my computer for the spot on my lap. She’ll try and try, me batting her away until she finally realizes the mission is futile. Of course, when I do this, she curls up on the couch and sleeps for the next five hours and is really no worse for wear. So I realize this temporary neglect doesn’t trigger the same type of guilt I would feel if I resented my child and her frequent—no, constant—tendency to impede my writing. (She, my cat, does the same thing when I’m reading a book, constantly walking across and sitting on the pages…it’s equal parts infuriating and adorable.)

I’m not a judgey person. Or maybe I am. But surprisingly not about this topic. Because I think it’s a legitimate choice. And I reject the notion that choosing a childless life is selfish. I do think having children is certainly more selfless by comparison. It’s one of the reasons why, again, were my circumstances different, I’d have a child. Because I see this selfless quality in so many of the people I know who have children, and sacrifice and suffering in the name of love is something I could probably benefit from incorporating more of. But people know themselves. And their limits. Particularly writers, who from my own observations are more likely to 1) have the time to wax pensive over tradeoffs and preferences, 2) have TAKEN the time to wax pensive over tradeoffs and preferences, 3) to seek peace and solitude, and 4) to have experienced some sort of trauma or neglect from their own parents, consequently turning them off of the notion of procreating. Whatever their reasons, let’s respect them. Having said that, I’m going to turn off my computer now. My cat has been patiently waiting for her turn on my lap.

latest tweets

TaliNayBooks Well, I guess now I don't have to be the only #SoCal girl rooting for the #indians in the #WorldSeries. #SilverLining #dodgerterritory
TaliNayBooks Because what's better than 3 days of art, food, ideas and music? Besides maybe stretchy pants. #LifeIsBeautifulFest https://t.co/6aviUYGA4Y
TaliNayBooks I'm sure they'll reach out for the "Authors You've Never Heard Of" edition. #authors #style #joandidion https://t.co/gQE9hPO7r3