Everybody has the awesome opportunity to find their own strength and path through life. Some come about their self-discoveries through studying and working hard. Others (Chelsea) spend their time nearly burning down kitchens and driving around the country with a car full of hangers.
Chelsea grew up wanting to be “strong.” She thought arguing her way through childhood and becoming a world-class attorney would get her there. But, through a series of humorous, and only slightly embarrassing events, Chelsea comes to realize that maybe her strength is meant to shine in different ways.
“FTL’s biggest client was a fabric design company that made nothing but Hawaiian prints. I’m actually pretty sure they no longer make anything, but rather spend good chunks of their time suing other companies who copy their designs. For me, it meant perusing catalogues and clothing websites in search of items with designs similar to this company’s retired fabrics. How great a job is that, by the way? I was getting paid to look for shirts with palm trees and hibiscus flowers on them. This whole law thing was too good to be true.
My best assignment came when FTL caught wind that a men’s underwear line was infringing on our client’s design name. She came by and dropped a stack of male lingerie catalogues (yes, they exist) on my desk to go through in search of this name. I spent the better part of a week looking at pictures at mostly-naked men with socks stuffed in their skivvies.
Nobody knew what to do with me. On one hand, studying oiled-up men in scandalous poses just had to be against any number of company policies. On the other hand, I was legitimately doing work in an effort to make the law firm money, so they couldn’t discourage it. In the end, they just left me alone. And that’s how I learned that you can buy men’s briefs with pre-padded butt cheeks.”
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The Pros and Cons of Writing a Memoir
Everybody likes talking about themselves. Don’t try to deny it, you know it’s true. I mean, think about it - even by saying you don’t like talking about yourself, you’re actually talking about yourself. Amiright?
Some people (myself included) take the narcissism one step further; we start writing about ourselves. And, I can’t lie, it’s a really fun activity. But, there are also downsides to writing about yourself. Here are some of the goods and the bads that I’ve learned about the matter since released my funny memoir, I’d Rather Wear Pajamas.
CON: Everybody and their dog is writing a memoir
Part of my inspiration to write a memoir came from reading such brilliant works as Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me (although, for the record, I didn’t read Kaling’s book until after mine was finished so the fact that we both talk about Meg Ryan in our memoirs is purely coincidental. I swear it, Mindy).
What do all of these funny women have in common that I’m lacking? That’s right, celebrity status. So, when I naively wrote my own memoir as an Z-list celebrity at best, I shouldn’t have been surprised when agents weren’t knocking down my door to publish it for me.
PRO: Nobody nor their dog is writing a memoir about me
I know, I know, agents have a million and a half queries about memoirs to skim through every day. I get it, it’s not personal. Admittedly, I didn’t spend much time reaching out to agents because I knew upfront that, unless I became insanely famous overnight, agents wouldn’t bat an eye at my manuscript. So, I decided to self-publish, and I’m SO GLAD I did. The only thing better than getting to write a story all about yourself is to create it exactly how you want it to be.
I had full control of the stories I told, the pictures I used, the title I chose, and (my favorite part), the cover I had designed. My book was truly my book.
CON: Small talk becomes really hard
Small talk at parties and such is hard. Trying to converse using small talk with somebody who has read my book is even harder. We all have our go-to small talk stories in our back pockets, right? How you met your spouse, where you grew up, how you one time shoved a roly poly up your nose as a child...you know, the good stuff. But, when you write a memoir, those stories are already out there for the world. Sometimes, people even pull my stories our of their back pockets to use as their go-to small talk in conversations now. Weird.
PRO: Small talk also becomes really easy
I’m flattered with the response my book has garnered. People love the stories and my light-hearted approach to telling those tales. More than once in a social setting, somebody who has read my book will actually pull someone else into our conversation and tell that other person about a snippet from my book. I just smile and nod, not having to say a single word. Brilliant.
CON: My story has already been written
Part of being a writer is the creative process of imagining up a fantasy world with rich characters and plots. Writing a memoir takes some of that creativity out since—you know—you already know all the players and stories. And, you have to keep it (at least mostly) historically accurate, because the people in your life are not afraid to call you out on any truth-stretching. Trust me on that one.
PRO: My story has already been written
When you already know the pieces, you’ll find you have room to explore creativity in different ways. I loved writing a humorous memoir because I got the challenge of being funny. It’s harder than you would think; there’s a really fine line between funny and stupid, you know?
At the end of the day, I’m psyched that I debuted myself as an author through a memoir. It was a great exercise in getting into a good habit of writing and a fun way to let my personality shine. Plus, hey, I got to talk about myself, just like we all love to do.
Chelsea was once obsessed with cats, longed to live in a big city, didn't think she would ever have children, and aspired to be an attorney. She now lives in Boulder, Colorado as a stay-at-home mom and comedic writer with her husband and three daughters. She has no current plans to own a cat.
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