It’s wild how it can feel as though nothing and everything are happening simultaneously. I’ve lived in Champaign for two and a half years now, but still feel like a visitor on foreign soil. The hustle and bustle of Chicago had become my security blanket; I feel lost and lonely amid the sprawl of Central Illinois. I remember when a trip to the movies was an engaging affair—chatting with neighbors on the elevator; greeting the door person; swapping stories with my cabbie; talking to fellow movie patrons on the theater’s elevator. I miss the comfort of community—human interaction breeds vitality.
Some of my friends have recently heard me describe myself as a “leech on society.” This is my current state of being because all I do is read, watch and write. I have zero responsibilities, which results in an empty sense of accomplishment. Yes, I consume vast amounts of information and am very plugged-in, but it’s only for myself. I’m not solving any significant problems or making meaningful change. I just let it all swirl inside my head, then get overly joyful when I know Jeopardy! answers.
I’ve become a recluse, but there is an important upside to my seclusion: I’ve spent the past nine months rebuilding my memoir.
Last summer I was at a standstill with my book. I knew she wasn’t finished, but didn’t know where to take her next. I solicited the advice of my most well-read, objective friend. After incorporating her keen critique, and feeding off the inspiration of two remarkable books—Becoming and Calypso—I’ve added fuel to my memoir. I wrote myself raw, and created something that’s one hundred percent me.
Considering my education and training are in journalism, I am a fish out of water in the literary world, but I’m dedicated to seeing this through and setting my memoir free. As I keep telling my mom, “I’m going to write our way out of this current hell.”