As I sat with my head in her shampoo bowl yesterday afternoon, my hairdresser, who is also a longtime friend, asked about my blog. She hasn’t read it, having limited computer access, but has seen my facebook profile picture, which alludes to it, and wanted me to tell her what it was about. This morning, I got a text from another friend, asking for the meaning of the same picture:
In both cases, as in others where I’ve tried to describe what I’m doing here, I’ve found that I… can’t… quite… do it. Sure, I can throw fancy-sounding words around, like “healing project” and “post-traumatic stress disorder” and “blog.” I can hand out business cards with the web address and the tagline, “a personal study in hurt and healing,” and advise people to just go read it. (My About page and my first entry both give pretty good explanations of the project and the goals I’ve set for myself.) But I feel like that’s cheating.
What I need is a sentence or two description that I can give to people when they ask about my picture or my project or my necklace. Telling people to go read this because I’m frustrated with my own inability to describe it is not an effective way of convincing them that it’s worth reading; I need a hook that’s stronger and more explanatory than my half-naked body holding empty bakeware.
While struggling to find the right words yesterday, I thought that maybe my project is too much inside my own head, swirling around there like nervous energy, hitting the occasional writer’s block and the occasional sensory overload, and that explaining it in a simple way is just outside of my realm of capabilities. But maybe someone else, someone who understands me well and has been reading it, might be able to sum it up for me. So I called Doug over while my conditioner was setting, and asked him to do it.
“Yeah…” he said a few times. “Yeah… I dunno. I can’t explain it either.” Then he stood there, grinning sheepishly, until I told him to go sit down.
Well… fuck. Is there no point to what I’m doing here? Is it too complicated? Too all over the place? If this were a book, would the back cover have nothing on it but adulatory quotes from other writers – which I find really frustrating, because for Chrissake, can’t somebody tell me what the book is actually about?
Wait, let me try:
After a tragic miscarriage, our young heroine finds herself feeling lost and incomplete, and so begins a quest to find healing in whatever way she can.
Too lofty and general? How about:
In a 14-month period, our young heroine endured a wedding and a divorce, a pregnancy and a miscarriage, a move across the country, and a healthy relationship with a decidedly unhealthy start. Feeling like her life and her body were no longer her own, she set out to explore different methods of healing, from the traditional to the unconventional. This is her account of that journey.
Better. But kind of long, maybe. Let’s go for punchy:
Life can really suck sometimes. This is what our young heroine discovered when she woke up one morning feeling responsible for her divorce and unable to bounce back from the loss of her unborn child. After two years of living in a black hole of depression and denial, she resolved to get control back in any way she could, and discovered that, sucky as it can be, life, in fact, is what you make it.
That one seems too negative – although, I do have days of negative thinking that would make it appropriate. And in any of these cases, if I switched to the first person and tried to deliver these blurbs in connection with the fact that this is me we’re talking about, my project, I think it would sound either awkward or conceited.
In college, I had two types of classes: reading and writing. My reading classes were like a book club; we’d read novels or poetry, then, at our bi-weekly meetings, would sit around a large table and discuss what we’d read. Doodling was allowed; snacking, acceptable; knitting, encouraged. My writing classes were similar to the reading classes in many ways, except that the poets and authors were present. We’d write, make copies for the class (or the teacher would read longer stories out loud), and then everyone would discuss each other’s work. There was just one rule: the writer was not allowed to make a sound during the discussion of his/her story/poem until everyone else had finished talking. This way you could tell whether your piece was successful – did people like it? did they get the points you were trying to make? – and see what other interpretations the reading public might come up with, things you hadn’t intended or even thought about. It was a helpful system, and sometimes, as in the case of a series of poems about a mysterious ritual called “Log Cabin Night,” a fun experiment.
So, um, maybe you guys, who understand me and have been reading this (and are not Doug, apparently), can help me out here. In 100 words or less, can anyone describe my project in a way that does it justice, is conversational, and will make people want to read it? Pretty, pretty please?