All posts filed under: Books

Becoming Whole: Sample Layout for the Printed Book

What made it all very real for me was seeing the cover of my memoir coming alive. Again, the theme of my life – having amazingly loving friends. My friend and artist Frederikke reached out to me after seeing a cover I created using some third-party tool. Nothing particularly exciting or original! “I can design one for you if you like!” She said. I love her eCards and paintings. I would never pass on such help! “That would be amazing!” I said.  Frederikke Tu is a very good friend and a Danish American artist. We chatted about what the memoir means to me. She drew inspiration from my story and the Swedish artist Hilma of Klint. Frederikke combined the idea of the brain with scientific and mathematical, beautiful and calm images. A few weeks after we chatted, she told me she was ready to show me her design.  When I saw her design, the cover immediately resonated with me. She did not explain the cover to me. She just asked me what I thought of it. I love …

A Mind Unraveled, A Memoir

My experience with schizophrenia affected my thinking. For Kurt, his body took surprise breaks giving up on him as frequently as every other day. His college days were heartbreaking. Becoming an independent adult and looking for a job with a pre-existing condition was tough. I can’t imagine how he survived through all that. Kurt’s memoir is inspirational; I could not put this book down once I started. Again, I am reminded that doctors are such important determinant of lives of people with chronic conditions. We tend to give doctors all the control when we are in need of urgent help and care. We are lucky when we meet the right person from the start. Kurt was not so lucky. Eventually he took control of his own care and participated in the decision making process. I went through a similar journey. Now I ask questions and don’t just obey. A collaborative relationship between doctors and patients seems to be the best even though sometimes as the non-medical-trained, patients feel not qualified to question. Medication is not …

On Writing, Bird by Bird, The Memoir Project, Writing About Your Life, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop

When I first started writing, I just wrote. I didn’t have any specialized training in English, Literature, or Writing. After a while, I did not feel very productive. That was when I started reading books on writing. I always turn to books when I am stuck. Here are my favorite ones so far. As I am wrapping up my memoir, I am rereading them again.

I Wrote It. Now What?

It’s been an incredible journey to write down my experience with schizophrenia and sort through my imperfect thoughts. After writing about it on and off for about 5 years or maybe longer, at the most, I had about 65,000 words. I googled “how many words in a memoir” and found out that I just barely made it. My first editor Ben took off about 20,000 words while I was still trying to decide on an ending. He went through a few passes. I felt uncomfortable every time he crossed off a huge section of my writing. There went the word count. Of course, he was mostly right. “Why are you telling me this here?” After he was done, about a year ago, I submitted the query letter for my memoir to 31 agents. No one was interested. I picked myself up from the handful of responses and rejections and started rewriting again. I came up with an ending, changed it, and changed it again. The writing could always be better. My second editor Beth is …

Educated, Hunger, Born A Crime, Hillbilly Elegy, Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After

I love reading about someone else’s life, to learn and experience life through another mind and heart. Here are my five favorite memoirs from the last six months. Educated by Tara Westover I learned how to be an adult through my family. Growing up, my father made sure that I did not have to worry about anything but just being a happy kid. I had a loving home. I was never hungry. I never had to worry about money. I also learned from being at schools how to breakdown problems and think logically. Tara grew up in a completely different family and environment from me, much less loving support and order. Reading her memoir, I am so impressed by how strong she was. It is an eye-opening story about perseverance, fighting to live one’s own life against all odds, and making sense of it all. . . . Hunger, A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay I was always a stick growing up, until I started taking the medication for schizophrenia. Now, compounding that …

My First Voice

No one ever asked me what I had heard from my voices. I think it’s a tough topic to talk about. If you have never heard of your own voices, you might not know what to say. Voices are not normal. Regardless, I remember them. Some voices are more memorable than others, just like real people. On a sunny day, I heard “him” for the first time. Later on, I would name him Joe who reminded me of my crush at the time. I woke up in my room and was getting dressed. All of a sudden, I heard a young man talking. I was not sure if he was talking to me. I thought, “Let me walk outside of the house to see if I can still hear him.” I stepped out of the front door and there was silence for about 5 seconds. Then, he said, clearly. “Can you hear me?” I stood in front of the door, locked the door and start walking towards work. “Yes.” I said quietly and smiled. “Don’t …

Selfish

When I was 36 and very single, I was hit by the narrowing of the time window to have my biological children. With any life problem I face, I turned to books and my friends. I was glad to find Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids. The writers in this book talk about how there isn’t one way to life. There were different scenarios for women to not have their own kids. Some had decided not to have kids for various reasons, some ended up not having kids because time had passed, and then there were those who gave away babies. My first thought was I am a woman living in a modern time. I could logically separate being single and being a mother. I decided to become a single mother. I charted my basal body temperature daily for a few months. I took folic acid when I remembered to. My primary care doctor recommended a reputable donor bank in New England. I reviewed numerous profiles and got what I …