It has nothing to do with grammar, or the English language, or what sells or doesn’t sell. I follow a few simple rules.
I think I read this in Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott) “You have to stop writing as if your mother is reading over your shoulder!” I paraphrased, but you get the idea. Tell it like you see it and feel it. Be true to your thoughts, heart, and feelings.
Develop a thick skin—armor. You’re going to need it. Bite your tongue at the critics. Remember if everyone loved the same things, there’d be no fashion industry or book genres, or millions of songs on the market. We are all different. Your readers will be from different walks of life and you will get reviews that hurt. Forget about them. Focus on the ones that think your work is great.
Don’t beat yourself up about your writing. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a writer, but after agonizing over a novel you can’t seem to get it finished. It’s three years and still, it’s incomplete. It’s not from lack of time, writing might not be for you. If it’s not, let it go. When I was younger I took ballet. I loved it, but I couldn’t follow the line. I’m a good actress, I love to perform. But I can’t memorize a sentence! Hah, I could never make a career of acting! Let the dream go and enjoy reading instead.
Editors and first readers will want you to write a certain way. One of my best friends enjoys giving me plot ideas. Recently I went crazy for about 6 weeks, trying to work with a plot idea that wasn’t right for me. You have to let that stuff go. It’s your story, book, novel, blog, whatever. It’s yours to write any way you want. I struggled to read my first Bukowski book last summer—Women. It was horrendous. Yes, he’s brilliant. But the plot was about an alcoholic loser writer and all the women he used and threw away. Really? And yet he’s considered a great author. I finished the book… I don’t know if I bothered to review it.
Sometimes you have to turn off Grammerly or whatever editing program you are using. You will have a style. Not everyone will like it. Get over yourself. Think about it this way: Some will, some won’t. Next reader coming right up.
Last, as an author if you are looking for someone to motivate you, forget it. Writing is a solitary career. You literally turn off the outside world and go into the one you have created in your mind. You’re the only one who sees the pictures you have created. And you are the only one who can pull those ideas away from the invisible muse and get them down on paper. You are unique. And you have to find that voice inside of you and believe that you can do this. You have to become your very own cheerleader.
What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with after writing and publishing your personal story or memoir?
To understand what I’m about to reveal, let me explain that in 2008 I was given 6 months to live! I was diagnosed with a heart condition that I didn’t know I had but the symptoms had been with me for at least a year. After months of treatment and absolutely no improvement, the doctors told me to “get my affairs in order”—and they weren’t referring to my love life!
Writing LOVE The Beat Goes On was the most amazing experience for me, and yet, so highly personal and revealing. I cried a lot and laughed too. There’s a great quote I read after I published it: When you write a memoir, there’s no place to hide. I also read a comment about memoirs that said there is rarely truth in a memoir. Two very differing points of view and both equally correct.
The book won medals, and was chosen as a Book of the Month club selection, and read by groups, and sits at 4.5 Stars in the top 25 of Amazon Health, Fitness books.BUT, I got one super hurtful nasty review. The writer compared me to Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love which I loved, but the review said basically that I (and Liz) was a woman of passion and privilege. I can’t argue the passion, but what hurt so much was the “privilege.”
My immediate thoughts went to my upbringing. My Dad was a military guy with all the challenges of returning from war. He drank, he smoked and I only recall bad times that ended in arguments between my mom and him. I also remember bearing the brunt of his anger and leaving the supper table daily in tears. But those times helped me become independent and self-sufficient.
We moved every three years—I still have difficulty staying in one place and forming attachments—including marriages. I found out I divorce very well. I had my first job at the age of 11, washing hair in a beauty salon on the weekends. And I worked my butt off my entire life—built businesses, lost them, and kept on going. Hardly a privileged life.
I don’t say these things for pity. I don’t believe in self-pity or blame. I mention them as facts. The same way I might smile when I buy a new pair of shoes. When I was a kid, I got a new pair of shoes when there was a hole in the sole and the cardboard that blocked the hole didn’t work anymore.
This was the only life I knew. And I learned from it. I came away strong and independent and determined to make a place for myself in the world. I brought up my boys, I supported my family, and when fate gave me 6 months to live, I never ever gave up my belief that I could and would heal myself.
It’s okay to dislike my personal story or not feel hope and inspiration for the way I fought through those challenges and defied the doctors’ diagnoses. But the personal attack, that was so painful. It brought back a ton of memories, you know, those deeply buried bad things that you never tell anyone!
When you write about your life, you will always be scrutinized. And let me tell you, it’s really hard not to take it personally. But the good news is, I get emails almost daily from people that have been inspired or are suffering from the same condition as I was, and I know I’ve made a difference in their lives. And for that, I would tell my story over and over again.
You know I love to write for Quora. Yes, it could very well be my guilty pleasure. But seriously speaking, today is a very sad day for America. In the last 24 hours there have been two mass shootings reported. My heart hurts for those whose lives were cut short, and the loved ones whose hearts are breaking in this very moment.
But the sad part is, it will all be simply a news bite, a politician’s rant, and a forgotten by the end of the week.
The following is the piece I posted in Quora. I’ve been living in Istanbul for almost five months now, and this question comes up all the time. I won’t say enjoy this piece, rather it’s time to wake up to the reality of the way the world is changing.
There’s a tweet that will trend on Twitter today about Mass Shootings around the world.
I googled mass shootings and the above is what showed up. Imagine if the USA reported every single mass shooting that occurs throughout the USA? What are the chances that you will be close to/a victim of/know someone who/or are friends with a friend who is a victim of Domestic Terrorism?
I lived in Mexico, in a lovely town called Puerto Vallarta. From 2002 until 2019 when I decided to sell everything and travel the world. I used to get asked this question all the time about Mexico. I never had nor witnessed any violence all my time living in Mexico. Not that it didn’t happen. I would answer people in this way: If you’re doing something illegal, or looking for drugs, then you are opening yourself up to unsavory individuals in any country. But shootings? In Mexico, the killing is between rival cartels. And even that I’ve not witnessed.
I’ve been living in Istanbul, a city of 17 million people, for five months now. I’ve never even seen a fight or argument on the streets. I walk the hills and come home from late-night dinner through the city neighborhoods and feel safe.
I will tell you what the biggest danger in Istanbul is for a woman: falling in love with a Turkish man!!
Winner of Best in Contemporary Fiction 2018 Readers Favorite at Writers and Authors (2009-present)
My best friend J. was a showgirl in Vegas, married a famous Hollywood photographer, made a trip to the Far East to smuggle drugs, and brought up three grandchildren because her daughter is addicted to meth! J. has a story to tell.
A fourteen-year-old Muslim boy in Istanbul is learning English in Sultanahmet Square. He comes to the Blue Mosque every day and makes friends with tourists from all over the world. He wants to know everything about their lives and gets to practice the language. He also speaks French, German and Turkish. He’s outgoing and absolutely delightful. He has a story to tell.
A friend of mine has beenconfined in a hospital for years. He was working for a group he can’t talk about, doing things in countries that don’t show up on his passport, and he is a patriot. He can never tell his stories. But I immortalized him as Luke Raven in my Code Raven Series. His story would be too dangerous for anyone to know, never mind tell.
My friend’s son was the most popular kid in school in Whistler, a ski resort in Canada. He was a star snowboarder and taught kids younger than him just because he loves little kids. He thought he could handle smoking pot, hanging out on peoples’ couches, and dabbling in heroin. He’s 35 now and been jailed twice, or more—I’ve lost track. The last I heard he lives on the streets in Vancouver. My friend cries herself to sleep at night because she knows no one can save her son but himself. They both have stories to tell.
I was approached recently to help a woman tell her story. Her ‘daughter’ is actually not hers by blood but belonged to a drug-addicted boyfriend. He abandoned them when the child was very young, and my friend loved and cared for the child as if she was the birth mother. Throughout the years, the authorities tried to take her daughter away from her because she not only had no legal right to the child, but they were both from different cultures and different countries. My friend fought the system and by some miracle, she managed to hold onto her daughter. Her daughter graduated high school this year. Momma is very proud! And Momma wants to share her story.
When I wrote my first memoir,LOVE the Beat Goes On, I came across a quote that I’ve never forgotten. “When you write a memoir there is nowhere to hide.” I wrote my first memoir. But I too, have life stories that need to be told. And I will continue to write them.
There isn’t a human being alive that doesn’t have a story to tell. Including you. And your story needs to be written because there will always be someone who needs to read it.
Three years on, July 15 continues to be etched in people’s memory
REPRINTED THANKS TO: ŞEYMA NAZLI GÜRBÜZ@SeymNazliISTANBULPublished15.07.201900:07Updated15.07.2019
People stand their ground against the tanks of the coup plotters, July 15, 2016.
The coup attempt has its place within the Turkish people’s minds as one of the most catastrophic days for the country, with some even defining it as an ‘apocalypse’
There is no doubt that the bloody coup attempt of July 15, 2016, has marked its place in Turkey’s recent history as one of the, and maybe the most, significant challenges that the republic has faced. The official numbers on the night and its aftermath alone show 251 civilians killed during the coup attempt and thousands charged afterwards for having links to the terrorist group behind it, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), tell the importance of this night in the republic’s saga. The real story of July 15, however, lies in average people’s memories, especially the youth, who still recall the shocking development of the events and define the day as the “apocalypse of the country.” “I remember every detail of that day,” said 35-year-old Mehmet, who recalled having an ordinary evening with his friends in Taksim, the heart of Istanbul.
“Normally in Taksim, there would be some security forces present. However, I realized that day there were none, which seemed suspicious to both me and my friends. Yet, we assumed that there was some kind of a bomb call or something like that,” said Mehmet, adding that he did not pay much attention to this at the time. However, Mehmet’s peaceful night did not last long as a friend called and informed him that there was a coup attempt. “At that point, I screamed. ‘What? A coup? In this century?'” Mehmet cried again, with enthusiasm, remembering those moments. Mehmet’s shock was actually a very common feeling, especially among the younger generations of the country, as others also expressed similar feelings while recalling the dark day.
“When I first heard that there was a coup, I was in shock. I suddenly felt very helpless. In a million years I never would’ve guessed that such a thing would occur,” said 25-year-old Neslişah. “Yet,” she said, “It did really happen.” Despite the surprise of the youth, Turkey is actually not a stranger to coups as there have been four of them, starting in 1960. However, the latest one took place in 1997, when Mehmet was only a child and Neslişah was just three years old. It also had a different pattern than its predecessors and was called a “post-modern coup” as it did not have soldiers walking around and taking control over places. Instead, the coup took place via a series of “recommendations” from the military to the era’s government. When the 1990s were left behind, however, things seemed quite smooth, especially after the rise of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which created an atmosphere that seemed to insure the elimination of coups from the country’s politics in people’s minds. Thus, when the July 15 came, and it was revealed that this was truly a coup attempt, the waves of shock spread all around the country very quickly.
“When I finally realized that this was really a coup, I decided to go home. On my way, I crossed paths with some local tourists, who were hitchhiking and scared. I welcomed them into my car. However, soon after, the coup plotter soldiers stopped me and did not allow me to go on. So I had to continue on foot,” said Mehmet. For Mehmet, the next couple of days became full off sadness, surprise and complexity. The very next day after the coup, he had to attend a funeral of his neighbor, who was killed during the coup attempt, and then leave his shock behind and start to participate in public occupations of squares that lasted for a while after the coup attempt as a signifier of the people’s victory.
‘IT WAS LIKE A PAUSE TO NORMAL FLOW OF LIFE’
“If things had not gone as before, my life would have crashed. For a moment, I felt very threatened,” he said, recalling his feelings.
In Neslişah’s opinion, the day was like dealing a big blow to the normal flow of time and pausing it somehow.
“I thought that my future was taken away from me,” she said. Remembering the day after the coup attempt, Neslişah said that she had never seen people in Istanbul in that way.
“I was staying with a relative so I had to leave the house to go home. However, I felt very nervous and couldn’t make myself leave the house. And when I finally stepped outside, I remember seeing blankness in people’s eyes, a reflection of something unforgettable that just happened. I remember seeing tanks everywhere and feeling chills all over my body,” she asserted with a trembling voice.
According to Kaan (26), the day was like the “apocalypse of the country.” Indicating that he felt nervous at first, Kaan said that when he saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling on people on TV, he felt relaxed and confident. “I thought that they are [the government] doing something about it. I found it [the president’s speech] very effective,” he said.
“I stayed up all night. I felt concern for my future and my loved ones, who might have been in danger at that time,” Kaan said, adding that it had only been a month since he started his first job when all this took place. “I questioned if I’d be able to go to work on Monday. I thought ‘what the hell, is this my luck or what’?” he asked, underlining that he felt very unfortunate and desperate for awhile.
The thing that gave Kaan his self-confidence and trust that there will not be coups no more, however, was the discharging of groups and people from public offices that might have caused such a threat.
Since the coup attempt was quelled, thousands of people have been detained or arrested for FETÖ links and actively participating in the coup attempt. The Interior Ministry recently announced that 30,709 people were taken into custody for their links to FETÖ following the coup attempt and another 19,329 people were convicted of FETÖ membership and related crimes.
2019 reprinted (with permission) because it’s so awesome!!
Something happens to my brain when I hear the line “tell me about the real you”. That (not so little at times) voice inside me whispers …”yes yes go ahead and tell them”–but then the louder voice (OMG so many voices inside my head) shouts “NO! Don’t you dare!” So the question remains…which voice do I listen to?When I was younger, the idea that someone really wanted to take the time to hear about the “real me” always felt rather flattering. But seriously–it’s such a loaded statement and coming up with a good answer? Well–more than a bit of a challenge. For example–what happens if the “real you” is the body suit you have been wearing all along? Is this person who is asking–implying that I am an impostor in my own skin? Some sort of pretender trying to fool him (and others) with my fake facade? OR–has the assumption been made that–like most of us–I keep many parts of my real personality hidden from public view?What does “real” actually mean? I googled it (of course) and here the results:
actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed.
(of a substance or thing) not imitation or artificial; genuine.
As children we are “real” in that we have not yet discovered how to be anything else. We are genuine and spontaneous in our behaviors and reactions to stimuli outside ourselves. We laugh loud when we are amused or happy and we cry (even louder) when we are hurt or in pain. Although the reasons may be a bit cloudy–there is not doubt of what we are feeling…no need to guess at our emotional responses. No child when asked “does it hurt” will say “no” –if indeed it hurts. A joyful child (to me) is akin to the 8th wonder of the world–in that it is a wonder to behold. Where would You-Tube be without all those home videos of children clapping their hands and laughing uproariously (over seemingly) nothing? How infectious that joy can be–we keep replaying those videos over and over again and laughing along…it makes us FEEL so good–because it’s…you guessed it…REAL!
We grow older and we learn to disguise our (sometimes favorable or unfavorable) reactions behind poker faces that cannot be accurately read by those trying to figure us out. Why? Why do we do that? What’s the benefit? Well–somewhere between child and growing up we discovered that letting others know how we REALLY feel–isn’t always a good thing. We figured out that keeping a leash and collar on our emotions and responses–can help us to feel less vulnerable to others. In fact–telling people we feel the opposite of how we actually do–is sometimes a valuable tool called “reverse psychology”–and can get us things we want much faster–than if we told the truth.The danger of bottling up the “real”– inside a body suit of “fake”– is that a time may come when we (ourselves) may no longer know how we actually feel in a given situation. We can lose track of who we really are– when we don’t let our real feelings manifest. We can start to feel misunderstood by those around us (indeed by the world at large) and crawl inside a little black hole that seems to keep getting bigger–each time we swallow a truth and replace it with words that mask and hide what we truly are thinking and feeling.
The “real me” had been held captive for a while now in a suit of armor that is very restricting. True I have little “breathing holes” I call them–where real feelings slipped out occasionally– but for the most part–I kept myself bottled up. The funny part is that lots of people never noticed. I am by nature a caring person and I believe myself to be a kind person as well. But after too much heartbreak– I had learned to zip my mouth and allow my brain the time sift through countless options before I spoke. The “real me” sometimes suffered by my own censorship of what was dying to burst out of me–but kept being told (by a brain that had been put in charge)–”NO! Don’t say it that way–someone might misunderstand and you’ll find yourself in yet another pickle. You’ll just have to extricate your foot from your mouth again and do–way too much damage control and explaining–much better to just “tell them what they want to hear”.
And so I did. I used to tell people what they wanted to hear and they were happy (for that moment)–until they found out (much later on) that I had not expressed my true feelings at all. I had not lied to them–but had certainly been guilty of the “crime” (?) of omission. I omitted telling them what I felt would surely be unpleasant and upsetting to them. But that was then and this is now.
As I write this I am smiling…simply because I have found my own definition of “real”. “Real” feels good…it feels right…it doesn’t make you queasy or uneasy. “Real” is what you feel without “fine-tuning” it to something more “acceptable” or “appropriate”. “Real” is honest and speaks truth. Sometimes “real” isn’t popular in a discussion –especially if others are practicing and engaging in (all too common) “fake” repertoire. Other times “real” can also make or break a relationship–but I’ve learned that any relationship broken by truth and honesty–is not one I want to be in. “Real” is also trust. Trusting what your heart and mind are telling you is right and true.
In this world of ours –where false advertising prides itself on fooling the better part of a population and where people appear almost eager to be duped in ways that are truly unimaginable– I believe knowing when (and who) to trust is nothing less than a God given gift and blessing.I have learned to “trust” me. It took so many years of trusting everyone else–thinking they all knew stuff about me that I could not myself comprehend–before I finally looked in the mirror and smiled at what I saw. I didn’t cringe at the white hair (although that little voice whispered gently–you can put a blonde rinse in it anytime). I didn’t try to stretch the skin around my eyes (or mouth) to make the wrinkles less noticeable–I now accepted them as the laugh lines they truly are (they are–right??). I’ve learned to laugh a myself (and not at my own expense). I see my long nose–patrician nose they call it? Yeah it’s still large–my face never really grew big enough to make my nose look small–but it’s mine and I own it. Hey–a large nose was good enough for Barbra Streisand never to want to tamper with–so why should I regret my own? My eyes stare back at me–the color (sometimes) of a clear blue sky –and other times resembling a stormy ocean–are they placed too close together? Who cares? I can see myself and others clearly with them now–so my vision seems to be improving (not deteriorating).
“So people now you know my story”…don’t judge me harshly as I humbly suggest that life can be filled with so much artificial bullshit! Sometimes the only “real” you will find is when you close your eyes and see with your heart. If thinking is required–sometimes it is better to shut off the louder voices in your brain and listen to the softer sounds of your soul instead. You may only hear a whisper at time–but if it feels real–listen to it and follow what it is telling you. My best decisions have been a direct result of what I saw in my heart and felt in my soul –rather than what my overworked and over-thinking brain sometimes pumped out trying to convince me to accept as “real”.
Tomorrow I will be at Jones Beach on Long Island. It’s one of my favorite places to get in touch with the “real me”! There’s just something about the sound of the waves and the seagulls–the wide open sky and the endless expanse of the ocean that allows me to breathe easier. This setting helps me believe in a reality that is bigger than just me. A reality in which I am but a tiny grain of sand on an enormous beach–or a tiny drop of water in an infinite sea. But just like the sand and water–I too was created by skillful hands and I am very–very “real”. What you see is what you get…my motto to live by. Ask and I will tell you –so be prepared.
I’ve learned to face the unpopularity of truth in certain circles–but it will never keep me from speaking it. I AM that friend who will tell you the there’s a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth–that your zipper is at half mast (guys) or that you are being an “asshole” (if you are) and though you may hate me now–you might actually thank me later (lol). Reality…what a concept! I pray for everyone to just learn to accept themselves as the perfectly imperfect– but totally “real” people they can be. I think we need to stand up (and stand together) against forces trying to convince us that we are not “good enough” just as we are. Indeed, voices that preach of a need to embellish our God given assets to such a degree– that we no longer recognize ourselves when we look in the mirror. Maybe it’s time to accept that “real” face we see staring back at us (without judgement) and to love it–just the way it is?
I reprinted because I LOVE THIS! Doris is a member of Lyndas Raven Army and a FB friend, a fan of my work, and a trusted member of my creative circle for so many years. Follow the link above to enjoy more of her musings.
Istanbul cats are famous. Who knew? They are everywhere and they are beautiful.
The religion of Islam teaches that animals are to be honored and cared for, but the Cat is the only one allowed to live in the home and walk into a Mosque. That doesn’t negate any other animals, it’s simply that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) has laws for the treatment of animals and fellow man and he had cats!
I’m quite fascinated by the local cats, their beauty, their health, and their attitude. They know they rule! The community feeds the animals whether they are pets or not. I passed a cat on my street eating fresh chicken placed outside by the local butcher for the cats. Another day I encountered a lovely tabby having tinned tuna. It’s the same with the stray dogs. They are healthy and have been tagged by the city so we know they are free of disease. The dogs wander the streets; but hey are not aggressive at all. The spend their nights curled up in doorways or at the entrance of the Mosques.
When I go walking or take the millions of steps up to the top of the hill (Istanbul is a city of so many hills!) I stop to greet and chat with the cats. Even the street art pays homage to the superiority and love for the Cats of Istanbul! I thought I’d share them with you!
Do you have a favorite? I definitely lean towards the green eyes, and the Kung Fu Cat! I could go on and on, but you get that it’s a “Cats’ World” in Istanbul, Turkey!
I published my first memoir, LOVE The Beat Goes On, in 2017 because I wanted to save lives. No, I’m not a medical doctor, nor do I have any kind of certification. But in 2007/8 I had a series of events that turned out to be Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy.
So let me take a moment to give you some back story so you will understand why ‘saving lives’ became a mission in my life. Women tend to neglect their health. It’s not unusual to self-diagnose and keep on going. Unfortunately for me, I was having attacks/gasping for breath and assumed that I was allergic to allergy meds. With what I know today, it’s possible that the allergy meds triggered the attacks. But I never went to the doctor! This went on for almost a year until I sat on a bench in a ski resort in Whistler, BC unable to breathe and suddenly it dawned on me I was having a heart attack.
There were so many lessons to share about my fight to survive, my determination, and my unorthodox methods of healing. People often ask me what I did—I have to respond, get the book! The information is there.
What followed my diagnosis was a series of events, my emotional reactions, my body’s resistance to medication, a cardiologist who advised me I had six months to live, and an amazing Irish GP who reminded me: “You know you can heal yourself.”
I wanted to tell my story, shout it out to the world, because if my body could heal from an “incurable” situation, maybe yours can too. You might not have a heart issue, it might be cancer, or it could be depression or any other ‘dis-ease’.
I began writing my book in 2009, but someone said to me: “What if your healing doesn’t work? What if you die?” So I stopped writing, and put the manuscript away, for several years. Then I had a Dr. Wayne Dyer experience that thrilled me and let me know that it was time to get my story out there. And from the emails, texts on FB, Twitter, or responses to my website and YouTube videos, I know I did the right thing putting my personal life on display. But I must tell you, writing a memoir is super scary: when you write a memoir, there’s nowhere to hide.
Now it’s 2019, I’m traveling the world. Currently in Istanbul, Turkey. I know I’m going to die someday. And it might yet be heart-related. My life has always been heart-centered so I expect that’s how I will exit this particular realm. But while I’m here, my desire is to share my story, my beliefs, and to live life to the fullest. I want to inspire others to do that too!
It’s that time of year, again! Happy Mother’s Day! I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy in early 2008! After many months at 28% EF, there was no improvement although the shortness of breath and what felt like heart attack seemed under control with meds.
The doctors told me at best I’d need a transplant but basically the last words were “get your affairs in order.” This photo was taken a few days ago in Istanbul Turkey. This year I sold everything and decided to travel and visit all the places I write about in my books! I’m now in my fourth month!! I’ve written my personal story it’s available on Amazon LOVE the Beat Goes On, and has inspired many! But I’m writing this to let you know not to give up hope!!!
I went to work with a shaman in Arizona in 2008. I never had a transplant nor any operations. The last thing I did before I started this trip was to visit my cardiologist in Puerto Vallarta where I lived. He said “you will always have some left bundle blockage but your heart is functioning at 86% normal! And it’s been that way for several years! Live and enjoy your life!”