Wow! I have been so busy! I meant to post this much earlier. Managed to catch a fun and exciting cold conveniently over my birthday, and have been playing catch up with life since.
Funny how that always seems to happen… never enough time to do what we really want right?
Happily, my dear friend Julie Flygare was able to find time in her busy schedule to grant me an interview following her newly released book “Wide Awake and Dreaming” and tells us a little bit about what its like to be an author. Julie has proven to be a very special person to me, personally and professionally, and having her as a muse and source of inspiration has truly been a blessing. I asked Julie some questions I thought would be interesting for all of us, in hopes others find her work and the process she went through as inspiring as I did… and perhaps help others to share their own stories in the future.
“Wide Awake and Dreaming”
Interview with Julie Flygare
Marcia: Thank you Julie for taking the time for this! What inspired you to write your first as a memoir and truly put yourself out there as opposed to something anonymous and or fiction?
Julie: Creative non-fiction is my favorite genre to read and write. I never considered writing something anonymous or fiction, it’s not my writing style. I did change most names to protect personal privacy, even my friends who didn’t want their names changed. These changes were made very late in the process because I found it incredibly distracting and jarring to read my story with different names.
Before your book you went public with your Narcolepsy on many platforms. What are the pros and cons of “outing” yourself as a PWN?
Opening up about my narcolepsy has been very freeing. By being public, I’ve had the opportunity to put a face to this illness, raise awareness daily and open people’s hearts to narcolepsy. If there are any drawbacks or fears, they don’t compare to the power and joy of raising my voice up for a cause I care deeply about.
Do you have a specific writing style? How did you develop this? What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a little old-fashioned and write my first draft all by hand, resulting of countless notebooks of illegible chicken scrawl. I often write so quickly, like a mad-woman, that I can barely re-read my own writing to transcribe it onto my computer.
Describe your process, fave pen? Fave work station? Fave time of day? Fave coffee joint maybe? How when and where did you bring your dream to life?
I write best at home or at a coffee shop – often listening to techno or classical music. I treated writing the first draft of book like a 9-5 job, but unfortunately creative inspiration doesn’t always work on a 9-5 schedule. If I wasn’t inspired, I worked on my blog, edited prior writing or went out running/walking. Oftentimes, a key phrase would hit me while out running and I stopped to type it into my phone before I forgot it. I often woke up from dream-filled naps with words on the tip of my tongue too. Once I was “in the zone” writing, it was hard to stop and I would be angry when I had to stop to attend a pre-scheduled appointment or meeting.
How did you come up with the title? Were there other options in your head?
In development, the book was called “Racing Dreams” but I never loved this title. Last winter, I wrote out a long list of other possibilities and sent a survey for friends to vote. “Wide Awake and Dreaming” was the most popular by far, so I went with it. The very first time I heard Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” song on the radio last spring, I panicked – worried she was about to “steal” my book title. Thankfully, she was dreaming, and now she’s wide awake. Phew.
What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
I really enjoyed writing Undertow (Ch. 8) about my festive birthday boat cruise and the dark day that followed it. I enjoyed setting the stage for the juxtaposition between my happy-go-lucky public life and my disabled terrifying private life at that time.
Is there a message within the message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The take-away messages will likely vary from reader to reader – depending on where individuals find themselves in their life experience. I hope the book provides some tools to re-examine how we view our circumstances – our gifts, challenges, fears and dreams.
What books have most influenced your life most? Are there other authors tackling this subject that you would suggest?
“The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman, “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides, “A Journey Round My Skull” by Frigyes Karinthy, “Proust Was a Neuroscientist” by Jonah Lehrer
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Without a doubt, Dr. Oliver Sacks has been the single most inspiring and influential writer to me. After first reading “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” – I gained the confidence to stand tall in my shoes and speak my truth, no matter how crazy it may sound to outsiders. As a person with a neurological illness, Dr. Sacks’ writing is SO validating.
What book or books are you reading now?
“Create the Best Life Ever” by Taylor Wells – Taylor is a huge inspiration to me in finding the positives in life and her recently published book is awesome.
You have made your book available both as a physical entity and an eBook. What is your personal preference for reading? How do you think the two differ?
I prefer reading paperback but I have never owned any tablet or e-reader. The ebook format has helped my book reach a broader audience, which is so thrilling! The only thing missing in eBook readers is the ability to hold the beautiful cover design in one’s hands.
Everyone has that one book, old tired stained, broken, all as a result of much love and much use; the one you just can’t part with…. what is that book for you and why does it hold so much value for you?
Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” – I find new wisdom and inspiration in these pages each time I read it, as I move through different stages of my life.
What is the very first book you remember as a child. Either read yourself, or was read to you? Could you share that memory with us?
“The Little Engine that Could” was a childhood favorite. “I think I can, I think I can.” is a great mantra for life.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m a big fan of Jonah Lehrer’s work – especially his writing about neuroscience and the connections between science and art. If Dr. Emmanuel Mignot were to write a book about his life experiences, I would be first in-line to read it!
What are your current projects? Are you looking to write again soon? Do you see writing as a career?
I love writing and it will always be a part of my life in one way or another, as it’s something in me that I cannot deny. I’d love to make a career of writing. Right now, I’m still catching my breath from the publication process and working on a smaller project which I look forward to revealing soon!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I may have added a scene about facing misunderstanding from unsupportive friends and family members. I meant to highlight this a bit more. The book highlights the positive influences – like the Dean of Students and my father, which is great, but not a full representation of the spectrum of responses I received.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Your first book being a memoir, do you feel as if you held back?
Looking back, I believe it was easier for me to point out my own weaknesses and flaws over the weaknesses and flaws of others. I wanted to be raw and truthful, but I was also adamant that this book would NOT be a tool to “get back” at anyone who had hurt me along the way. I attempted to strike a fair balance to be objective and not seem bitter or self-pitying, but in doing so, I may have left some powerful scenes. This is my greatest challenge in writing non-fiction and the only way I held back.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book? Will you be signing copies anywhere soon?
Who designed the cover?
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The editing and proof-reading process was hard in unexpected ways. I often got sleepy doing the tedious edits and continued editing in an episode of “automatic behavior” well past my ability to do good quality work. When I would eventually re-awake, I couldn’t remember where my consciousness fizzled so I had to re-do big sections many times over to ensure accuracy. Also, this process was emotionally draining – as I relived the book’s experiences over and over again each time I re-read them.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I let go of rejection. The publication process is cut-throat, no one will hold your hand or sugar-coat things. For any artist to work towards his/her goals – you must become resilient to rejection.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Entering the publishing world as a “newbie” was very challenging. I knew the literary world would not be easy to enter, everyone is skeptical of new unestablished authors, especially ones like myself who had little publishing experience before attempting a full-length memoir. I was determined though, which helped me through the jungle.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If writing is your life dream, start now! Don’t listen to anyone who tell you can’t do it – they are likely speaking of their own fears and failures, masked as advice to you. Stick with it. If you are determined, you will see your dream through and it will be worth it.
Now doesn’t that just make you want to write?
Thank you so much Julie for everything you do!