Author Melissa Febos has consistently flipped the literary paradigm. Her memoirs chronicling her time as a dominatrix and her musings on relationships and female adolescence have challenged traditional notions of memoir writing. Melissa tells Claire about her process for writing intimately and honestly about trauma, desire, and other life experiences. She also talks about her latest book, Body Work, which invites readers to grasp the radical power of writing your personal narrative.
Resources from the show
- Check out Melissa’s latest book Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative
- Read Melissa’s essay, The Heart-Work: Writing About Trauma as a Subversive Act, in Poets & Writers
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Melissa Febos, Claire Bidwell-Smith
Melissa Febos 00:00
People were sort of fetishizing when I was in college, which was still like Hemingway and Raymond Carver and Bukowski of all people. And so I was writing novels and on the side I was having like a very interesting life where I was, I was an active addict from my teen years through college into when I started working as a professional dominatrix I got sober while I was in sex work. And through all of that, I was like, well, this will be good research for a character in a novel someday. Because I think I thought that, you know, writing a memoir was sort of like embarrassing and a little bit trashy.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 00:52
I’m Claire Bidwell Smith, welcome to NEW DAY. It’s always been so interesting to me that society doesn’t really value memoirs as intelligent literary work, especially when it’s a memoir written by a woman. It’s the same reason why author Melissa Febos was so determined to write fiction, even as she was living an incredibly interesting life that was screaming out to be shared with the world. Thankfully, Melissa basically said screw that and has written for incredible memoir heavy books, with smart about her time as a dominatrix in Manhattan. Abandon me about relationships and the need for connection. Girlhood about female adolescents, and the stories were told about what it means to be female. And finally, her latest book bodywork about the radical power of personal narrative. I love all her books, but I absolutely devoured bodywork. Just like Melissa, I resisted the idea of writing a memoir for a long time. I thought poetry was the way I wanted to share my thoughts and emotions. Poetry felt legitimate in a way that memoir did not. But again, just like Melissa, I got over that. And I wrote my memoir, the rules of inheritance. And I’m so glad I did. Have I mentioned I’m working on another memoir. Now, all of this and more is why I was so excited to talk with Melissa. And we talked about so much the role that writing can play in processing and healing trauma, the power of sharing our stories, and what happens after you publish a super personal book.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 02:25
So I start every episode of this podcast asking my guests, how are you doing? But how are you really doing?
Melissa Febos 02:33
It always takes me a minute to get to that answer. But I think I’m doing all right. I think I’m doing all right. All things considered. It’s a pretty good day.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 02:46
Great. That’s good. So I would love to talk kind of about all of your books, because they’re amazing. And I was wondering, I don’t know. It’s, I guess it’s a big question to start with. But how do you feel like they all tie together? I mean, your first book is a memoir about being a dominatrix. When you were in college, I went to the new school, by the way. And I was a waitress, not a dominatrix on the side, but and then you wrote another memoir about your father and relationships and being abandoned and much more obviously. And, oh, you wrote girlhood in between abandoned me, and whip smart and girlhood was all about female adolescents and narratives that women are told about their bodies and who we are and how you navigated that and kind of a larger picture of that. And then your most recent book bodywork about writing, and memoir and craft and stories we tell and there’s just, there’s so rich, there’s so much in all of these. And is this what you set out to do? Is this what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Melissa Febos 03:50
It was, which I always say, especially, you know, if I’m talking to aspiring writers is not mandatory, which, you know, but it really was the thing that I identified as a kid. And I think partly that was because I was an obsessive reader. And I just had a bunch of qualities where I was like, I don’t know if like, being a regular person is going to work out. I was like, really attracted to things that were not regular and not approved of. And I was only able to really focus and sort of hyper focus on things that I felt really passionate about. And when I was a kid reading and writing were, mainly that’s what that category mainly consisted of. And so as soon as I figured out that a writer was something you could be I was like, I think that’s probably my best bet.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 04:51
Yeah. And how did you go about starting your first book?
Melissa Febos 04:55
Well, it depends. You know, the first book I wrote or the first book I thought bliss. Because there was one before that, as people warned me there might be and I was like, not me, I’m not gonna read a whole book just to learn how to write a book. But of course I did. And, you know, I never, I always saw myself as a fiction writer. I started with poetry when I was very young, but switched to fiction in college. And, you know, I just had this really unexamined idea that fiction was the serious form. It was, you know, if you wanted to be like a capital W writer, you wrote novels, and had, you know, a lot to do with sort of, you know, the culture of the time that I grew up in, that we grew up in, and what people were sort of fetishizing when I was in college, which was still like Hemingway, and Raymond Carver and Bukowski of all people. And so I was writing novels and on the side, I was having like, a very interesting life where I was, I was an active addict from my teen years through college, into when I started working as a professional dominatrix I got sober while I was in sex work. And through all of that, I was like, well, this will be good research for a character in a novel someday. Because I think I thought that, you know, writing a memoir was sort of like embarrassing and a little bit trashy.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 06:24
But you talk about that in your most recent book and about how, you know, we don’t value memoir, as you know, literary intellectual work.
Melissa Febos 06:33
It’s true. And so you know, I can articulate all of this now. But at the time, I never said any of it out loud. I was just like; I’m going to be a novelist. And then I was in grad school for fiction. And I took an nonfiction class and the teacher, I was so intimidated by the whole idea of writing nonfiction, that I took an undergrad classes as a grad student, and the teacher had us write a short memoir, among other forms. And I didn’t even really think about what I was going to write about. And I just started writing. And it was about being an active addict, and being a professional dominatrix. And it was like the fastest, hottest kind of writing I’d ever done hot in the sense that it just like, it was like lava, you know? And I thought, wow, that was a weird experience that was like, much more urgent than any other creative experience I’ve ever had. And I thought, I’ll never do it again. And then my professor was like, hey, I beg to differ. You know, I’m sure you think your novels like really important, but actually, I think he needs to be writing a memoir. And I was like, absolutely not. But you know, as you probably know, it’s like, once you sort of open the door, really, in writing or in life to something that is very true that you’ve been trying to avoid. I’ll talk in the first person. When I opened the door to something I’ve been trying to avoid in writing or in life, it’s really hard to close the door again.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 08:06
Yeah, I had such a similar experience. I was a big reader and writer as a kid. And I focused on poetry all through high school, because I just fiction, I just didn’t, it wasn’t something that I felt like I wanted to produce or could produce. And so poetry felt like the only option to write about true things in my real life. But then it started to feel very limiting. And I also took a nonfiction class, and I was like, oh, and it also just poured out of..
Melissa Febos 08:32
Oh, wow, that’s so interesting. I’ve never heard anyone with this. A story so close to my own. Yeah, sort of comforting.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 08:40
And I also felt, you know, embarrassed about it initially. And it was the same reasons. You know, it was like, this was in the early 2000s. And what we were valuing in terms of literature and men and fiction, it was so prevalent, so much more than now. Thankfully, it’s changing. But you know what it was like Mary Karr and Dorothy Allison were like the only members when I started writing. You know, that was great. But it wasn’t what it is today. And so I felt very apprehensive about going down that path.
Melissa Febos 09:14
Yeah, yeah, that’s so relatable. It’s so true.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 09:18
And so what was the, what led up to you finally embracing it and putting this second book out there? The second one you wrote?
Melissa Febos 09:25
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, in writing the first one, it was such an education, like I had hardly written an essay, even at that point, and writing that book was such an education in what writing personal narrative does in in in the mind, right, not just in the world, which I also found out when I published it like for better and worse, but what it did in me and how it transformed my relationship to that lived experience.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 09:57
You write so beautifully about this in bodywork. But the most recent book just about the power of that, and even the transformative power for people who’ve been through trauma or communities or, you know, whole countries that need to be processing when they’ve been through and studies that have gone on about writing.
Melissa Febos 10:14
Yeah, and I didn’t know any of that. I mean, I knew about therapy. My mom’s a therapist, I love therapy and therapists, and definitely believe in that process in the process of sort of sorting through and integrating experience. But I didn’t understand to what extent writing could do that, you know, I think it was I was already doing it, you know, in a way, but I wasn’t very conscious. And it wasn’t anything close to what happened when I wrote whip smart. So on the other side of that experience, I thought, well, first, I went back, and I wrote another novel. And but while I was writing the novel, I was also writing essays. And I also, you know, had more intense lived experience. And this time, I knew, you know, I got into this, like, very intense, I can now say, like, addictive, abusive, emotionally abusive relationship. And while I was in it, I thought, like, how does this not destroy my life? Like, How is this not a horrible aberration in the timeline of my life, and I thought, oh, I need to start writing about it like this is the only way I know how to make experience useful, and how to make meaning out of it, like in the most direct way. And I really wrote my way out of that experience. In my second book, I wrote most of that book while I was still in that relationship, while I was like, meeting my birth father for the first time, and I really think I think I would have survived it, I would have gotten out of it, I think it would have taken a lot longer if I hadn’t have been sort of having this external meal for psychologically digesting what was happening to me. Because I couldn’t, you know, certainly when someone’s in a really intense experience, so hard to access my, how I feel about it, it’s was hard to think straight, like I was, beside myself. And when I was writing, it was just, it was such a relief to sort of forget my body in many ways to just like, be in the craft of it. And because of that relief, I was able to actually look at what was happening in it in like a colder objective way.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 12:30
Pre-writing it, even then, with the idea of possibly publishing it, or you were just writing to write.
Melissa Febos 13:00
I mean, it’s true, there’s always the idea of publishing and part of it is, it’s not, it’s not necessarily driven by materialism, I think, I can’t really explain why this is. So I mean, I could take a stab at it, maybe you can. But if I’m, I’ll just always do a hard thing for someone or something else before I’ll do it for myself. It just, it’s so hard for me to think like, oh, I’m gonna go approach, it’s really hard task and project and really face something very scary, just to do that work. And that’s like, but if I think this is research, or I’m doing this, so that I can create a book that will then help people who are in similar dire straits, you know, then suddenly, it feels so much easier for me to step toward it. And so I think I do really need that idea of an audience who might be helped by the thing I’m going to write if it’s just me, I just want to dissociate.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 14:05
I get that, I totally get that and you write, you write a lot about, like, why memoir and body work? And can you talk a bit about that? I mean, it’s just been dug into from so many different places, and a lot of criticism, you know, in out there about why we write memoir and why we want to put these kinds of stories out there. But you had some things to say that I hadn’t heard or read anywhere.
Melissa Febos 14:28
Yeah. I mean, I can. It’s probably best for me to speak from personal experience. And I think for me, there was this sort of internal transformation, right. And I think there’s this the bias against personal writing tells us that people write memoirs because they’re self-involved because they’re narcissistic, because they want attention, when actually, the reality of writing a memoir as most people have written a memoir, no, is that it is one of the most profound be humbling experiences. Because if you aren’t sort of dis assembling the stories you tell yourself to feel good about yourself like the book isn’t going to be any good. Like it is really predicated upon picking apart the sort of whitewashed version of what happened, right? It’s no, it’s no fun. And it’s not worth the work to just reiterate your own fantasy and publishing and no one want to publish it. And so, so I think there’s that misconception, but I also what I found when I published memoir is that it had this incredible power to reach people. And you know, novels do this. They have tremendous power, they move people, but I’ll never forget, actually, the memoirist Cheryl Strayed, who has been really generous to me, once told me the story about doing an event with a novelist who was, had sold just as many books as her. But it was like they did this event together. And the signing line for Cheryl was like, five blocks longer and not because you know, her book was better than the other person’s book. It’s because these people thought, this is a real person proof that I’m not alone in my experience, and like she exists, I can go look at her and see this physical evidence that I’m not the only one who’s experienced this. And that exchange of sort of, whether it’s on the page, or like, you know, on a stage, whatever, just knowing that there are other real people who have your experience is so liberating. And I think opens up the space for us to think about where our shame where our oppression were the bad things that have happened to us and the powers that exert themselves on us where they might come from, if it’s not just like a personal flaw, right? Yeah. And so I think that that form of storytelling has this incredible political power, and like, it’ll take the most cursory googling to be like, oh, wait, that’s how every like grassroots social movement and revolution has begun. It’s just people sharing their stories and being like, wait, the problems not us.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 17:16
Yeah, you say, what is it you say that of resistance to memoir about trauma is resistant to movements for social justice, you know, and I think that is an amazing way to look at it. And I hadn’t thought of it ever in that way until I read this from you. How has the reaction been to that kind of statement? Have you been able to sense it in the literary world at all? Can people hear this?
Melissa Febos 17:40
I mean, I think, you know, I’ve been on this sort of soapbox for a little while, because I was just teaching memoir, you know, in university settings and at conferences, for years and years, for probably 10 years. And then, and around the time abandoned me, my second book came out, I was like, Oh, my God, I am so tired of hearing people speak about memoir this way. Because I had all of these brilliant students with amazing stories, new stories we need, you know, and they were riddled with the same insecurities they that you and I were, and they didn’t know where they came from. And I was like, I, you know, again, I was like, I’m for my students, I’m willing to, like, do some work around this. And I wrote an essay that was published in poets and writers and a lot of people read that essay. And so I knew that people were hungry and ready for something to say back when people said the same old tired insults about memoir, and so I knew that, that people needed it. Right. Yeah, and with body work, you know, there are definitely I have definitely read a couple of reviews. And overall, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. And like, I really take no issue with having a couple of mixed reviews. But I do think it’s funny that the mixed nature of the reviews like tracks exactly along the kinds of biases that I outlined in the book, like it’s very meta, you know, um, and it’s persistent. You know, it’s really persistent, like those long held like historically implanted biases that they’re just woven into, like, the fabric of our culture in a really granular way. They don’t just go away because someone like exposes where they come from. But overall, it’s been like such an over I’ve gotten way more emails I could possibly respond to people are posting about it constantly. Like, it was a best seller crafting. It’s so stupefying I, I was like, Oh, here’s some of my little manifesto, we thought. But I think also the timing. I think if I had published it 10 years ago, people would have been like, sit down and right now I’m I think because we’re starting to, like recognize that the story that sort of the old guard of publishing was telling us about, you know, there, you know, you can’t have more than one story about a person of color or a disabled person or a fill in the blank. And actually, now that people are buying those stories and publishing them, we realized like, there’s, it’s absolute right, there was a thirst. They were just depriving people of knowing that there were stories that they shared. So yeah, I feel really fortunate that the timing sort of worked out.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 20:40
Well, I’m so glad you wrote it. And all of your books. How was each one shaped you? So like when whip smart came out, dominatrix, did you feel like pigeon holed into that identity? Was it hard to talk about writing another book about something else? You know, what was that like?
Melissa Febos 20:56
Yeah, you know, my agent at the time warned me about this, which was very wise. Lino, before we sent the whip smart on submission. He was like, are you sure you want to do this? And I was like, yeah, obviously. And he was like, no, you should think about that. Because you can’t take this back. And it’s nonfiction. And like, not only is everyone going to know all of this about you, but it’s going to be your calling card, like until you publish another book. And it might affect like, the process of trying to publish another book and being the like, very predictably, sort of stubborn and somewhat arrogant young person. I was okay. It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine. Having no idea what it was gonna actually be like on the other end. And, you know, I often did get pigeonholed. There was a lot of like, I mean, you know, this happens every memoirists specifically women, particularly those who write about anything like intimate especially sex. It’s just people just, there’s such tabloid curiosity and such dismissal of the aesthetic value of work that it’s exhausting. It’s a you know, I answered a lot of questions from like, journalists, I really respected asking me just like the most vacuous insulting questions.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 22:14
And I bet like the headlines about of the reviews were so like, clickbait.
Melissa Febos 22:19
They were so bad. They were so bad. I mean, they’re all just burned into my memory, though. And also just like being advertised for readings, it was like, former dominatrix and award winning writer and the other person was the award winning writer. And, you know, I that part was like a kind of a painful education in many ways about exactly how blunt the sort of sexist mechanisms that are still at work in our society, and particularly in sort of literary culture. But I will say there was a way that I was really satisfied by the fact of knowing like, the quote, unquote, worst of it was out, you know, like I had published, something I was really proud of, it was the best thing I had written at the time, it was like, I was punching above my weight. Because I needed to write that book. And so I had to become a better writer to do it. And, and I remember thinking when I went on the academic job market, like, well, I’m definitely not gonna get some interviews because of this book. But I will know that whoever hires me, is cool. I’m not gonna get hired by like, there’s no fucking Catholic university on the planet that’s gonna hire me after I published this book. But those are not the right schools for me to be teaching at, you know?
Claire Bidwell-Smith 23:45
That’s the same thing happened with me on a different level with my first memoir. I wrote while I was married, and then I got divorced, and then I was dating in my 30s with kids, and this book was out there and, and I thought, oh, my God, like, what guy is going to read this book and, and wanted […] with me, and I was like, well, the right one well, and, and the guy I’m married to now he read that book. Like two days after we met, he just sat down and read the whole book. And he called me and he was like, I just want more and I was like, okay, cool.
Melissa Febos 24:17
Correct response, sir. I will see you again. Yeah. It’s a good screening mechanism. It really is. Because I’ve heard all of the, like, dominatrix pawns in existence, like often on dates or in the workplace, really inappropriate settings. And, yeah, it’s a good sort of, it helps me it has helped me be a better judge of character, you know, so in the end, it definitely wasn’t like the softer path to being a published author in many ways. But also, you know, my worst fears or at least the worst fears of my agent were not, did not come to pass because As I did publish another book and with each subsequent book, I think there’s less and less of like the word dominatrix being in the first line or February review or whatever. Now it actually feels pretty far away. There’s a lot of people who read my work who have never read my first book and my students don’t all walk into the room looking like really, really wide eyed.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 25:27
Searching fear whip.
Melissa Febos 25:28
Not for that reason anyway.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 25:54
Can you talk a little bit about your second book about girlhood?
Melissa Febos 25:57
Oh, yeah, sure. So, you know, girlhood was another book where I think I, if you had told me a few years before, like, you’re gonna write 300 pages about your adolescence, I would have just like, run screaming, or maybe just laughed and been like, shows what you know, I’ve already processed all of those experiences. And it turns out that sort of talking about things in therapy somewhat and referring to them in passing regularly is not, does not sort of close the case, on an experience as every therapist in existence understands. And, you know, so it just started with an essay girlhood as an essay collection, very sort of closely bound, linked essay collection. And I just started writing an essay about why about a childhood bullying experience that I was at the wrong end of. And, you know, I had told myself, for my whole adulthood, like, oh, there were hard parts of my adolescence, but at least I was never bullied. And then I like found this old journal of mine from when I was 11. And it described this, like, horrifying experience of being spot on. Rather, it didn’t describe that, but it referred to it and retold the story in really sort of beautifying terms, like I had rewritten an exploit horrible experience of bullying in my journal as an 11 year old and I thought, whoa, in what manner have I done this in my own mind, you know, and so I started digging, and it started with kind of an excavation of that particular experience. And that led me to another and that led me to another and it ended up being this like really deep, rigorous dive into like, body image and early sexual experience, and, you know, following the trailheads in my adult life back to these experiences that have really sort of set me on a particular course, in many ways.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 28:03
And then how was it to put abandoned me out there? What did you I mean, what’s always so interesting is like, you put these books out in the world, and then they start to float back to you, and all these different reflections and mirrors and people writing you emails, and you start to hear what it is people are seeing and reading and feeling. And you don’t always know when you put it out there, right? You know what it was like for you, but you don’t know how everyone’s going to react to it.
Melissa Febos 28:28
Exactly. And, you know, I think especially with abandon me, like, when I started writing that book, I couldn’t even describe it, you know, partly because I was in this like, very psychologically mute phase, because I was basically in the middle of a trauma and, but also, I was just me, you don’t know what a book is, until you finish writing it. And it was about so many things. It was, I was like, I remember sort of having lunch with an editor once and I was like, you know, it’s about like having a father who’s a sea captain and this like, really intense relationship, but also it’s about abandoned men, but also it has all of this research in it and their face just like glazed over instantly. And I was like, oh, I can’t I’m not going to know what this book is until maybe even until other people read it, you know. And then after that book came out, I had such an intense experience of folks writing to me, and I think because I had been writing it while I was in the experience, both with sort of meeting my birth father and being in that relationship, which was so excoriating, the emotions, were you know, memoirists are always described as raw, like our books are always described as raw when they’re not actually, they’re very well cooked. They’re just like, emotionally intense. But that book, like the emotions really were kind of raw, because I had written them in this very immediate, like desperate state. And I think because of that, readers, especially people who are in relationships like that or had parent relationships like that, or even we’re just in any kind of like powerless relationship with anything. They were like, This is the lifeline, thank you. And once again, it really sort of, it’s like I have this battery of defenses and in the form of like an incredibly deep bank of reference that the work of telling my story and sorting through those hard experiences is useful to other people. So that when I sit down to write again, and those same old persistent like fears and worries and insecurities come in, I think, no, you know what, I actually have no evidence that any of that is true. But what I do know is true, is that I have like, 1000s of thank you letters tagged in a file in my email, because I have personally read through this process.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 30:49
Yeah. Speaking of that, what is your advice to someone who is thinking about writing about their life, or a certain experience or a trauma, and they’re scared.
Melissa Febos 31:01
I mean, the number one thing that I tell people is to be gentle, you know, you can be brave and gentle at the same time. And we don’t always get to decide when it’s time. But we can only tell the best version of that story when we can be present for it. And we can’t be present for it for re traumatizing ourselves, or if it’s not time, you know. So that’s like the first thing. And then when it is time, I think, you know, it requires so much persistence, and so much bravery and so much emotional presence, like we need a team to support us while we’re doing it. And that, for me means like, my various 12 step programs, my community of writers, my colleagues, my wife, my family, my therapist, my sponsor, there’s like a lot of people who helped me through that process. And if I had to do it alone, it wouldn’t be possible.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 32:03
Definitely, where does someone start writing? Like, what did they start with?
Melissa Febos 32:09
You know, people have a lot of anxiety about this, my students are always like, oh, where do I start? What if I get it wrong.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 32:17
Tell them to write a whole book that you’re gonna throw out, so don’t worry about it.
Melissa Febos 32:22
I actually tell them, it doesn’t matter where you start, because the story you need to tell has its own wisdom, and like, it’s gonna find its way out through whatever opening, it’s like, I really imagine it like a house. And like, it doesn’t matter if you go on the front door, or you crawl in through a window or drain pipe, like you’re gonna get to the same thing. And also, you’re gonna rewrite the beginning more than any other part of the book anyway. So it doesn’t matter where you start. Only that you start.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 32:47
Yeah. All right, last question. What do you tell people who are afraid of what people will think like, I haven’t had a lot of this as an issue in my writing. Until now. I’m writing a new memoir. And it’s being like 44. And under second marriage, and I’ve got all these kids and I have a career as a therapist. Now it’s feeling a little scarier to put out something deeply personal. But I hadn’t experienced that before. So what do you tell people when they say, I’m afraid to really put this out there. Asking for a friend?
Melissa Febos 33:19
Yeah, it’s very real fear, it’s probably the most common worry, for good reason. You know, we don’t want to hurt the people we love, you know, or the people we hate sometimes, because they can be very dangerous. So the first thing I tell people is that you don’t ever have to publish it, no one else ever has to see it. And you don’t know what it will be until it’s done. So it’s so important to give yourself the privacy, to tell the story that you need to tell, there are things I have written where I’ve decided afterwards, you know, this isn’t worth the risk. And I put it away and maybe I’ll wait until somebody dies, or maybe it’ll stay there forever. And but those are pretty few and far between most of the time when I finish a story, because the best version of that story is one in which I have moved through my resentments against other people. I have scrutinized myself more rigorously than anyone else. And I have reached a place of, you know, if not forgiveness than complexity, and a kind of love even for the people I thought of as villains in my life. Like I can hold them carefully in my story. And there are lots of ways to protect other people’s privacy. But the important thing I think, is to give yourself privacy when you’re writing the story, and then you can do whatever you want with it afterwards. You call fiction. You know, you got some spaceships and called Science Fiction. There are lots of options on the other side, but for me if there’s a story, I really feel that I need to tell there’s just no, the only way around is through.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 35:03
I love that. What can we look forward to next from you?
Melissa Febos 35:07
Well, I’m working on a new book. I just sold it. It’s called the dry season and it’ll probably be available in like four to five. In the meantime, yeah, bodywork is on shelves and girlhood came out in paperback not that long ago.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 35:24
Awesome. Thank you so much, Melissa. It’s been such a true pleasure to talk to you.
Melissa Febos 35:29
Oh, thank you. I’m such a fan. And you were an amazing interviewer.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 35:33
Oh, thanks. I just I am asking the questions that I really want to know. So thank you so much. Okay, I can’t stop thinking about something Melissa said about abandoned mean. I’m not going to know what this book is until maybe even other people read it, she said. I mean, she’s talking about a book she wrote about her life, and she thought she wouldn’t know what it was about until she had it reflected back to her by her readers. Wow. I just found that fascinating. I also love her advice for aspiring writers. It doesn’t matter how you start just that you do start. I believe everyone has a story inside of them just waiting to be written. If you take anything away from this conversation, I hope it’s that the world needs more personal narrative. So fire up a Word doc, and start typing.
NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our VP of weekly content is Steve Nelson. And our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me, Claire Bidwell Smith. NEW DAY is produced in partnership with the Well Being Trust, The Jed Foundation and Education Development Center. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms, or find me at clairebidwellsmith.com. Join our Facebook group to connect with me and fellow NEW DAY listeners at facebook.com/groups/newdaypod. You can also get bonus content and behind the scenes material by subscribing to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts. Thanks for listening. See you next week.