Full disclosure: I started this post Monday and couldn't find time to finish. I usually write in the moment and don't look back but this was such an important experience I had to make an exception.
Yesterday, I had the absolute pleasure of spending much of the afternoon with two friends from twitter. Both have nurtured me when I was crashing, made me laugh, supported me, challenged my point of view, were there when I needed someone to "talk" to, yet I'd never talked to either. It was almost surreal to hear voices and see faces when that one inch twitter avatar is who I'm used to dealing with. And yet, within seconds, we we deep in conversations. I'd promised Iz it was only about a quick cup of coffee and then I'd be home. Meanwhile, 2.5 hours later I had to tear myself away from the table, not wanting to leave. @amyoscar and @rebeccaelia—you are even more soulful and beautiful in the real world.
We talked women's issues, social media, seminars, parenting, relationships, and me. It was a bit like tag-team therapy at times, the two of them able to look at me from an entirely different place and share profound perspectives that I haven't been able to see. There were a bunch of moments when that lightbulb went off over my head as I suddenly saw what I'd been doing—in arguments, in the projects I'm drawn to, in how I parent.
I crashed last night at 9:40—hours earlier than usual. I think my brain was completely fried after such thoughtful introspection and inspirational ideas.
But back to that eye-opening conversation . . .
As we talked about FLOW, what I want to do next, what I've done, they looked at each other and explained I've been exploring the three major female archetypes: virgin, mother, crone. That my life's work has an arc, a theme to all I've done.
My life's work?
An overall arc?!
It was a tag team body slam. As they finished each other's sentences, chattering away about archetypes in literature, my mind spun out of control. I never feel like there's any direction or plan in my life. And they're pointing out that I've had a theme, a logical chronology, that the aging and menopause projects I'm starting to flirt with make perfect sense for both where I am in my life and in my writing storyboard.
I know, looking back, that I've been on a path without realizing it. Many of my books have been about girl's experiences growing up in this society. How they/we've been shaped by the media, politics, public opinion. But I never looked at the over-arcing, well, arc.
Virgin, mother, crone. That sounded so simplistic, but then again, it is. My earlier pop culture books: Cheerleader, Beauty Queen, Prom Night, Stewardess are all about the experience of girls growing up. Not virgins per se, but the illusion of young lady on a pedestal supercedes the reality. Those female figureheads are adored, revered, untouched. Iconic. Pure. The mess of motherhood hasn't marred their perfect facades.
Which brings us to FLOW and Don't Just Stand There. Books that smack you upside the head with blood, with reality, with humor and pain. These aren't iconic. These are real world, life-changing. The enormity of physical female experience wrapped in pretty packages.
And now, as I'm quickly honing in on 46, the projects calling to me are WRINKLE and FLASH—aging and menopause. End of life exposés. Someone asked me yesterday how I can write about things I haven't experienced yet, but I'm smack in the middle of (or at least at the beginning of the journey) of both.
I've always known that I write what I am, where I am. Not that I know what it's like to wear a tiara and a swimsuit with heels, but there's got to be a grounding in reality when I'm exploring. Perhaps that's why fiction is so hard for me. I'm not that character, that made up world. I love facts slipping through my fingers. Discovering ways to connect events and ideas. Knowing where we came from and how we got here is a fundamental part of our collective story that so often doesn't count anymore.
Telling bits and pieces of our story in a new way to a new audience.
My life's work.
My story arc.
A new perspective on why I'm here.
Ladies, there are no words for how grateful I am.