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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
AUG
30

Re-arranging

Sometimes it's hard to know whether you like something so much because you get used to it the way it is or because it's actually good. It's a quandary I find myself in after finishing a manuscript, because there's usually an initial order in which I write and organize my stories. And I do get used to them being in this order, to the point that it can be hard for me to tell if they would be better if I changed some of them up, switch their orders, etc. Or more specifically, it's hard for me to actually move them, even if I do think they would be better in a different chapter.

Most of my books I don't write in order. I simply pick a story that sounds good to me in that moment and write it. Then I pick another one. I don't really think about order or sequence until all the stories are written. This is, I believe, the first time I've ever written a book in the actual chronological order in which it will appear in the book. As such, when I laid out all the stories (with this super sophisticated process of writing their key words on pieces of cut up printer paper), I didn't find as many things to move around, because they were pretty much where I wanted them to be. I only moved two stories after laying this all out, and, if I'm being honest, I've already moved both of them back to where they were. Again, it's like, is this just because I'm used to it that way or because it really is better? 

There are two additional stories that I feel *could* potentially be moved somewhere else, but I can't find anywhere that I feel their placement would be better than where it is now. So I'm inclined to leave them where they are. Which would make this the first time that I really did just write a book from start to finish in exactly the order in which everything will read in the final version. Something about that feels...cool? Neat? Interesting? Just me? OK.

I've probably mentioned that this is a book about work, and it's also the first time that I've finished a book and then had to write an epilogue because events happened that sort of affected the ending. Then more events happened and I had to edit the epilogue. Seriously, it's been just about the weirdest couple of weeks at work that I've ever had. Talk about re-arranging! Who knows what the ending will be by the time this thing actually comes out?? Stick around and see...hopefully summer/fall of 2021.

JUL
13

Scene Stealer...and a Book Update

This is, of course, a shot of my cat stealing the show during my reading for the San Diego Public Library website. She did it almost the whole time, turning around, stretching out, turning back around, and while I probably should have just re-shot the video, I went with it. Because this is real life people. We are at home, quarantined with our pets. I do think it was a fun idea the library had, to do these story time videos with authors reading from their own books, and if you are at all inclined to look through them, definitely do it. They are pretty easy to find once you get to the website.

In other quarantine news, I continue to write my new book at record pace. I'm 80% done if this one turns out to be the length that 3 of my first 4 books have been. I suspect it will finish a bit longer, which I guess technically means I'm less than 80% done, but the point is, most of the book is written, which is crazy. I feel like Newbie just came out. It's also a little bit sad, because the writing is my favorite part. Once that's over and I switch into editing mode, I lose the biggest part of the creative process. And then I miss it. So I think I might stretch out this last 20% of the manuscript writing and really savor every word. These days, anything that can be savored seems like just the ticket.

SEP
13

In Defense of Podcasts...and Marriage

I was in Oregon over the weekend to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Which might not seem like much—they were a regular small-town couple who raised regular small-town children and had regular small-town problems (including cars that almost never worked)—except think about that for a minute. Think about people you know who have been married for 60 years. Do you know any? My grandparents are both now in their eighties, and lots of people don’t even live that long. And of the ones who do, a large contingent don’t stay married, or at least to the same person. It really is remarkable. Of course, reaching any kind of marriage milestone (even, like, one year) seems miraculous to the eternal singleton that is me. Indeed, I’m convinced that every single committed, loving relationship is nothing short of a miracle. But 60 years? That’s a whole different level.

Book clubs have (surprisingly) never been my thing. I don’t enjoy reading books that I mostly wouldn’t have chosen to read myself. And so I certainly don’t then enjoy discussing books that I mostly wouldn’t have chosen to read myself. But a friend of mine recently recruited me for a Podcast club, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever. For starters, it’s less of a time commitment, and podcasts can be listened to while accomplishing any number of tasks. And another great thing about podcasts is they so often leave you smack dab in the middle of some kind of philosophical or moral debate. Animal hunting, the treatment of rape victims and perpetrators, the appropriateness of hope in the parents of autistic children, the vast differences in the frames of reference of American children and their much less fortunate foreign parents, the inescapable depression of the 2016 political situation, etc. I mean, these are hot issues. They are issues that will most definitely make you think—no, emote—at a level that most books do not. And what I find so fascinating is that most podcasts have the ability to make me waffle from one side to the other as the various points and perspectives are discussed. And any medium that can cause so many facets of your own conscience to come to the surface within such a short amount of time is clearly onto something.

To bring this back to 60 years of marriage, one of the podcasts I listened to this week centered on this idea of reruns; or, in the case of the married couples interviewed for the podcast, the issue of stories you hear your spouse tell over and over again, to the point of driving you absolutely crazy. I’d never really thought about this dilemma before. Again, as a singleton, I always have a new audience (a different date, a different squeeze, a different boyfriend), and I’ve never really run into this issue. But think of how this could come into play for people like my darling grandparents. “Honey, I’ve literally heard that story a hundred times.” It’s rather amusing to think about, especially after listening to the podcast, in which the annoyed spouses (the ones sick of the other person’s stories) were surprisingly unable to successfully tell the stories themselves, even after supposedly having heard them ad nauseam. On the other end of the spectrum, some of these people had gotten so used to their spouse’s stories that they believed they themselves had actually been there when they, in fact, had not. That one’s almost equally amusing—and not all that unlike my own discovery some years ago that my favorite childhood memory apparently never happened. I’d imagined it so often, every detail easy to recollect, that I had convinced myself (and if I’m being honest still sort of believe) it was real.

In any case, I guess one of the hallmarks of a red-letter marriage is that even after 60 years, you still enjoy hearing him/her tell the same stories. And you can’t wait to create more, together. Happy anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa. I’m pretty sure you two are going to make it.

 

OCT
13

Storytelling: NYC Edition

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They are the most human part of us. Stories. They are why I write, they are what I like to write, they are the only part of an otherwise boring lecture or presentation or sunday school lesson that will make an impact on me in any way. I'm sure if you think about the lectures, presentations, and sunday school lessons that have made up your own life, you'll agree that stories trump all.

There is a storytelling organization here in NYC that I am just becoming acquainted with. I attended one of their events a few days ago (at a beautifully charming venue, the stairwell of which is pictured here), one featuring stories from World War II. Most of the storytellers were in their late 90s and lived through it, the war, and between stories of escaping Belgium and traveling on foot through France (it took a year), setting off explosives and being shot in action, flying planes to help train new soldiers, racial discrimination even after arriving home from serving our nation, these men and women were positively captivating. Not because they were expert storytellers, but because life often needs little fanfare or finesse in order to shine through.

Harry Truman's grandson told the final story of the evening. Not a veteran himself, but he's often asked to speak on his family's behalf whenever the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings approaches. He told of a tender experience meeting a Japanese woman whose grandfather was killed in the bombings. This led to more involvement, more introductions, and Mr. Truman Daniel ultimately ended up attending a memorial ceremony in Japan a couple of years ago. What struck me about his story was the lack of hate or animosity between countries. Rather, there was love. Kindness. Comfort. Strength. And how fitting that what the families of the Japanese victims want most of all is that their stories be told. So that we never forget. So that we never do this to each other again.

I was entertained, uplifted, and most of all, I was moved. You could get that way from a theatrical production, maybe a play or a movie. You could get that way from a well-done novel, too. The difference is that this stuff really happened. It has a sense of meaning beyond anything people could dream up. It's real life, in a story.