Excitement. Accomplishment. Anticipation. Joy. FEAR. Those are the emotions that wash over me now that I’m days away from releasing my first book.
It’s been my dream. My work of passion. And a very private part of my life that is soon to become public. Yes I put myself on television to be judged in front of audiences every day for seven years. But this is different. This book... it’s personal. Sometimes I had to do things on television that I didn’t love doing. I think that’s true for most people when it comes to their jobs. But I must own everything that I write in this book. My writing is raw and vulnerable. And funny at times too. But no matter the mood of the writing, I’m still exposing myself with every story that I tell. I gave birth to this book. And I feel a sense of responsibility to inspire, motivate and empower my readers.
As I get ready to release my writing and life lessons, I can’t help but think of the first time I ever signed my name to a story for someone else to read. I was in the seventh grade at St. Jude Elementary school in Elyria, Ohio. My teacher was Mrs. Craig. The assignment was to write a paper titled, “Why I Am Proud To Be An American.” That’s a pretty important topic for a 13-year-old kid to tackle. And truthfully, as a young girl wearing a ponytail, penny loafers and a plaid skirt, I had no idea why I was proud to be an American. Yes, I knew that both of my grandfathers fought in World War II. I could recite the Pledge of Allegiance by heart since the age of seven. And I knew every word to the Star Spangled Banner. (Although I’m sure that I got the “perilous fight” part wrong. What grade school kid knows what “perilous” means when it’s so much easier to just say “dangerous?”). And the Madonna-wanna-be in me even had killer moves to Neil Diamond’s song “America.” But why was I proud to be an American? That was a tough question for my somewhat sheltered brain. And so I did what any young kid would do. I turned to my mom for help. The problem was that my procrastinating ways sought out my mother’s help the day before the paper was due (and after the sun went down). Mama V was not so pleased with her young daughter. But my mom didn’t want me to fail my first important English paper. And so, with her typewriter in tow, my mom diligently worked on my assignment. I poured some hot chocolate with marshmallows and kept her company while she typed away. My mom wrote well into the night, crossing out words and retyping the perfect paper. By midnight, her work was complete! And the next day, I proudly turned in my brilliant essay. Except is wasn’t really mine. And when I received my final grade on the paper, it was clear that I didn’t completely fool my teacher. I received an “A” on that paper. But there was a note attached. It was one sentence long. My teacher’s note read, “Beautifully written, if only you were the one who wrote it.” I may have received an “A” for the assignment, but my teacher clearly wasn’t getting an “F” for fooled.
I never thought after that assignment I would become a writer. Maybe this book is partially my way of making amends for passing off someone else’s work as my own. You’ll soon see that this book is all me. And I will own every word of it.
I started writing my book at a very dark time in my life. I was unemployed. I suffered a nasty case of betrayal and heartbreak from people whom I trusted. And I had a lump on my back that wasn’t supposed to be there. It was a time of uncertainty. I questioned my purpose in life. And I felt completely lost and worried about my future. During this time, I turned to music for healing. Some songs motivated me. Others made me cry. And some lyrics provided me with inspiration. I discovered during this time that I was living my playlist. And so, Live Your Playlist was born. The manuscript began as a raw diary. It was cathartic for me. In time, after the manuscript marinated and the rewrites began, it became a book that helped me heal. And I hoped that others who read my book might heal too. But even through my healing, there was still fear. Fear of exposing myself. Fear that people might criticize something that was so personal to me. And fear placed upon me by others.
There were people who did not want me to write this book. I received emails, phone calls and subtle messages from people who feared what I might write. Maybe they were afraid that I might write something bad about them? Maybe they were afraid that I would expose their blemishes? I guess they’ll just have to read the book to satisfy their curiosity. But I want to make something absolutely clear. This book is not a salacious tell-all. That’s not my style. And quite frankly, no one would be interested in a tell-all by some former, local TV chick from Ohio. Yes, I write about painful experiences. Yes, I change some names in my book. And yes, you might cry or dislike some of the “characters” in certain chapters. But this book isn’t about exposing bad people in my life. While I may expose bad behavior (my own included), this book is about learning how to overcome challenging and difficult experiences. And in the end, it’s about empowering yourself!
I could have feared the people who tried to impede my writing. And there were times when I did. I could have feared exposing my mistakes and imperfections. But I made a different choice. I knew that if I wrote stories that were coming from a good place, I had nothing to fear. I found peace in the realization that the final version of Live Your Playlist is a version that is meant to entertain, inspire, and heal anyone who connects with my words.
Music inspired my writing. One of the songs that always has a place on my playlist is George Michael’s “Freedom.” I’ve come to a place where I feel freedom from the chains that others once placed upon me. I’m learning to find freedom from the chains that I’ve placed upon myself. And I’m beginning to free myself from my fears. One song and one day at a time. My hope is that this book will do the same for you.
Vulnerable. Courageous. Hopeful. Passion. Freedom. That is what I feel as I’m about to release my first book.