I finished my book So L.A. – A Hollywood Memoir a couple of weeks ago. I felt accomplished, relieved, happy, excited to share, and anxious all at once!
The anxiety comes from two places: one is knowing that my work has only just begun… now comes all the publicity-pushing which, like most authors, I hate having to do. The second reason for feeling a bit of unease is, since it’s my life story, wondering how the people I’ve told stories about will feel – everyone from my mom to Keanu Reeves. (OK, chances are slim Keanu’s gonna pick up a copy.) The stories, though not always happy, are ones that resonate with me. These are my truths, and hopefully my friends and family will understand and respect that.
On the other hand, I’m really excited to share my stories. They are pretty funny! And I don’t just tell stories, there’s always a backstory. Since I was born and raised in L.A., there’s a history to the backdrop. Like PJ Soles wrote in her blurb for my memoir: “A book that rivals the best of Huell Howser’s TV shows digging up the cherished as well as perished landmarks of the City of Angels.” I really did strive to do the deepest research, and present the most interesting, uncanny sense of place and time.
So L.A. is available for pre-order now (Kindle only at this time – paperback is coming mid-March 2017).
But enough about me!
I thought the subject of finishing a book would be interesting to explore. So, I asked a few of my author friends to chime in with their feelings and thoughts on typing “The End.”
Karen Lam is a filmmaker whose work I admire very much. I met the Canadian-based, feline-fancying, knit-kook, foodie about four or five years ago in Los Angeles, when her short film Doll Parts played at the Viscera Film Festival in Hollywood. She’s primarily a film and TV director, but she just finished her first book, Don’t Lie To Me. (That’s a working title, she says.)
“When I started last year, the idea of writing a novel (a whole novel!) hadn’t even crossed my mind. To me, a book is too monumental, too huge of an undertaking to even contemplate. But I read about the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge and having just undergone one of the most creatively depressing periods of my life (I lost my dad and my cat in the span of two years), I put everything aside just to do it. Writing it was a matter of daily discipline: finishing it was one of the most cathartic moments of my life. I did it! It felt like I had finally reconnected to my own voice. I have no idea what will happen to the book now: whether it’s publishable or I’ll tear it apart for screenplay fodder, but the very act of doing it has re-focused me creatively, in a way I could never have imagined.”
I’ve known Traci as an online friend for years and years. I adore her wonderful witchiness, her love and support of the author community, and her Audubon-like wild bird photography… it’s stunning!
“The first two books I wrote (both NaNoWriMo projects) didn’t really end, so much as I simply stopped adding words. However, with book three (Wrecked), I still remember the moment I absolutely knew how Maeve’s adventure would end. I was close to my word count goal, and had no clue how to wrap things up. Suddenly, the sky above my lap top cracked open, a contingency of angels poured forth, and the lead one was carrying a huge white board with a diagram of my final chapters... then I felt the keyboard digging into my cheek, noticed something like a drool puddle on my desk, and got back to typing. While I can’t say my ending matched the dry erase markings, I can tell you, I walked around the grocery store and laundromat that week like Tom Brady wearing his five Superbowl rings.”
Lee is another person I only know from online interactions – and I did contribute a chapter for his book We Can Be Who We Are: Movie Musicals of the 1970s – but he’s such a grand, colorful, fun, honest, and often “drunk!” character, I feel like I’ve known him forever. (And his dog, Buddy.)
“Thus far I have written books on ecological horror movies, seventies movie musicals and exhaustive tomes all about two of my favorite horror films The Howling and Cujo. In between writing endless pieces and doing mammoth amounts of interviews, research, liner notes for DVD and Blu-ray releases, talks and panels, running a film collective and more stuff here and there, that once I finish an entire book, I am both relieved and somewhat revived. Relief comes from that state of being able to say to yourself ‘Fuck, I just finished this massive thing and in many ways, it could be considered the definitive tell-all about whatever the fuck it is I’m writing about!’ and that feeling of being rejuvenated and invigorated again stems from that idea that now I can take on something else! It could be another book, another project, something more collaborative like theatre or filmmaking… but I have now become that filthy dog who has just come out of a long hot bath and goes crazy, running wild for about half an hour straight, revived and ready to take on something new!”
I’ve known John for so many years, I can’t even remember how we first met. It was probably at a Dark Delicacies Bookstore event. But I was a fan of John’s books long before I was a fan of John the person. He’s not only a New York Times Bestselling Author, he’s a “zombie godfather, compulsive collaborator, musical pornographer, black-humored optimist and all-around Renaissance mutant.”
“I am the kind of fried that only happens after tackling something incredibly difficult, for months upon months (with several years of partial forethought), and finally grappling this into something that feels like IT JUST MIGHT WORK!!! Now it’s up to the team to decide if this draft does what we want it to do. If it does, I am so enormously relieved that I could sleep for a week. If not, I’ll just sleep a regular amount. And fix the things that need fixing. Till we get it right. But damn if I don’t feel both light as a feather and thick as a brick, the freedom of completion and the weight of exhaustion both winging me upward and plummeting me down. Thank God, the yin-yang symbol’s so darned stretchy! SPROOOOOOOING!!!”