I’d like to welcome author Elizabeth Fournier to Annette’s Paper Trail. Elizabeth is on a virtual book tour for her recently launched memoir
All Men are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates.
In her book, Elizabeth chronicles her true life dating spree as a marriage-minded mortician in her mid-30’s. Set off by her broken engagement, she enlists everyone in sight to set her up on blind dates in a passionate quest to meet just one really great guy. Armed with a 10-point list of dating criteria, skintight jeans, and flash cards on Nascar, football, and micro-breweries, she spends one full year doing the blind meet and greet. Names are changed to protect the rejected as she humorously dishes dot-com hotties, compulsive bloggers, and tattooed graduates of the Gene Simmons School of Dating. Bridget Jones would be proud of her American cousin.
“This book is fantastic! It was so breezy and fun, and will be an excellent beach read.” – Shelley Kurtz, KVAL-CBS, Eugene, OR Morning Anchor and long-time Pacific Northest Newscaster.
When I was approached by the WOW! Women On Writing blog tour coordinator about hosting a stop on Elizabeth’s tour, I was excited to have the opportunity to pick her brain. As a memoirist, I’m always curious to hear how other writers have approached putting their personal stories onto the page to be released into the world for all to read. So, I asked Elizabeth how difficult it was for her to relive embarrassing or uncomfortable experiences in her writing.
Elizabeth said: “Writing my memoir was not exactly pleasurable. I had to relive 77 dates. Um, that would be 77 blind dates that never parlayed into a second date. But I was on a mission. I had a plan and put it on the fast-track which ultimately netted a wedding ring and a published book, yet getting to that point was a bit emotionally grueling. I suffered through it in order to give women some inspiration, hope, and to provide you all with a fun story (at my expense)!
I kept in perspective that I was the protagonist in my own memoir, the tour guide. It was I who was driving the train out of dysfunction junction. This provided a lot of clarity for me which in turn motivated my internal drive to write the book. The funk turned into spunk. I worked through the prickly task of writing about one disappointing night after the next.
I did the classic show up and throw up. I sat at the computer with a Super Big Gulp perched next to me and out it all came. I just typed and typed. The finger strokes on the keyboard became rhythmic. Words appeared on the monitor and I was truly amazed at how fast the page filled.
Next, I corrected spelling. I used the Spell Checker function and cleaned it all up. Of course, this meant words spelled incorrectly might now be an entirely different word, but that occasionally gave me a fresh perspective and new direction. A word randomly would appear that triggered a new thought or two. I added and subtracted sentences to make it sparkle.
Finally, I read it all aloud, laughed at my wackiness, and changed sentences to make me laugh even louder. I kept on keepin’ on.
So what advice can I give a budding memoirist?
Write the narrative you feel passionate to write, and keep it private until you are finished. Don’t tell anyone you are writing a memoir. Protect your creativity.
Organize your writing into small chunks. Undertake your life one manageable portion at a time. Allow yourself to jot notes and craft bits that aren’t necessarily in chronological sequence. Don’t worry; the finished result will rock if you stay true to yourself.
Dig deep. Tell a story. Explain the details. Give the audience a picture. Yeah, it was Monday and you were heading to work. Were you in the car, bus, or on foot? What did you smell, see, or hear? Were you eating, drinking, or reading anything? Talk to us. Share your life. You, my friend, are interesting.”
Have you ever thought about writing a memoir? If so, what personal story would you share? Or what would keep you from writing it?
After Elizabeth got over her dream of being a Solid Gold Dancer, she promptly headed into the local funeral home and asked for a job, any job. She became the live-in night keeper which meant she resided in a trailer in the far reaches of a large, hilly cemetery and slept with a shotgun near her bed. It was the scariest summer of her life.
She is currently the voice of the autopsy exhibit in the forensic wing at the United States National Museum of Medicine and a full-time mortician. She is also a ballroom dance instructor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. But she couldn’t resist writing the story of her unusual method of dating that led her to the love of her life.
To learn more, visit Elizabeth’s website and stop by her blog.