November Book Club | Recap

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For November, we delved into the world of the personal essay with Adair Lara’s book “Naked, Drunk and Writing: Shed you Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay.”

I have to admit that I choose this book club pick for selfish reasons. I’m an aspiring essayist and I needed some motivation. Although I went through college thinking I was going to be a fiction writer, something switched about a year after I graduated when I attended a personal essay writing class at Grub Street in Boston, MA. I took the class because I was feeling stagnate, still depressed that college was over and that I was working as a waitress full time, barely writing a sentence a day. I must have read an essay collection, or maybe I just wanted to go for something different. I can’t remember exactly. What I do remember is that I completely feel in love with the genre after the 6 week class was over.

I had always thought my life needed to be exciting and irresistibly interesting in order for me to write a memoir of any kind. But personal essays disproved this. They satisfied that desire I have for wanting to know everything about everyone, little details about their life that seem trivial but are oh so telling.

Writing personal essays also validated that I have something to say and what I say is important. This is something I’ve struggled with since I was a little girl, something I still struggle with. Is my voice valid? Is it worth hearing?

The answer is yes.

Currently, I have one essay floating out in the world as I await to see if it will be published. It’s a scary thing sending your voice out into the void, and at the same time, completely thrilling.

“Naked, Drunk and Writing” is part confidence boost and part craft/structure based. Lara sprinkles her humor and wit throughout the entire book while she explains everything from endings to sentence structure, from story arc to choosing your tense. After working twelve years as a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Lara really knows her stuff. I can see using this as a reference guide while editing or while I’m having writer block for years to come.

Here are a few of my favorite quotesthat filled me with excitement about my future writing projects. I hope they inspire you too!

Writing is a kind of word-drunkenness that makes you want to do that- to take off your clothes and turn your experiences into art, despite who may be watching, despite your embarrassment, despite anything the world and your own self-doubts throw against you.
— p.7

“It’s about shedding your inhibitions and loosening your defense so that you can stand naked before the truth that lies dormant within you. It’s about the intoxication that comes with the terror and beauty of being exposed and vulnerable so something bigger than you ever thought you were. It’s about developing the courage, confidence, and skill that will take you through the arc of becoming a successful writer.”
— p. 10

Write it down. Whatever it is, write it down. Chip in into marble. Type it into Microsoft Word. Spell it out in seaweeds on the shore. We are each of us an endangered species, delicate as unicorns.

Check out my interview with Adair Lara from earlier this month. You can buy “Naked, Drunk and Writing” here!

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