I am honored to have NYT bestselling author Laura Munson with us today as she talks about her memoir, THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS (Berkley Trade, 2011). She has graciously agreed to give-a-way a copy to a lucky reader!! Laura’s writing has appeared widely in various household publications, including The New York Times, Redbook, and O Magazine. She is also the founder of the Haven Writing Retreats. Without further ado, please welcome Laura Munson!
1) Laura, thank you for taking the time to chat with us about your book, THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS (2011). While your story is no doubt an eye-opener, what do you believe sets it apart from other memoirs out there?
LM: People tell me that reading my book is like sitting with a good friend, drinking tea, and sharing. That is a result of many years of learning my craft and understanding why I write. I come from a place of service. I want to help people know they’re not alone. I want to help people know that we can powerfully choose our emotional reaction to the things people say and do to us. I think that my intention behind writing This Is Not The Story You Think It Is shines through: writing is my practice, my prayer, my meditation, my way of life, and sometimes my way to life. I faced that time of crisis in my life by writing my way through it, both for myself and others. I was walking the walk, and I think that is what drives the book. The reader actually experiences the writer using her lifeline, which gives them permission to do the same in whatever challenges they face in their own lives.
2) Many readers/writers are interested in doing just what you’ve done: writing a memoir. Whether the book is about their entire life or just a horrific portion of it, how do you see the process of writing memoir different than, say writing fiction?
L.M.:Writers mine their lives, whether it is in fiction or non-fiction. I write both and I need both. Fiction feels like distilled reality to me. Realer than real. In writing fiction, we are not bound by actual events and people. I like that freedom to go somewhere I might not go in my “real” life…on the page. With memoir writing, however, it is such an intimate, vulnerable dwelling place…that it can’t help but bring new insights into the world as you know it. They both have their place. I’m working on a novel and a memoir right now, and I decide which book I want to work on depending on my mood/needs at the time.
3) Can you give us a glimpse into your writing process? How do you determine what to include in memoir? What to leave out? The stories you relate are quite real and raw leaving you, the author vulnerable. Would you say writing is cathartic for you?
L.M. For the most part, I’ve written every day since 1988. When you sit at the intersection of heart and craft and mind that is writing– page after page, year after year– you learn the architecture, rhythm, and voice that breathes a book alive. People often think that a memoir is a tell-all expose or a long journal entry. It’s not. At least not a memoir I would want to write or read. Yes, the writer is drawing from her life, but it still has to be crafted to work as a narrative. And that comes from hard work and good intention. I believe that if you write out of service and responsibility, then you can write about anything. Writers write as much for ourselves as for others…to try to makes sense of this beautiful and heartbreaking thing called life.
4) How does your environment—the horse farm, the mountains—influence your creativity? Can a writer flourish in an isolated study carrel at the library as much as she can a log cabin in the woods?
L.M. : I hope that this is true! I believe in being a flexible person and a flexible writer. I’ve written in cock-roach infested urban apartments, and in the stone cold silence of Montana, when I worked three jobs, when I had small children—you name it. I know that the sacred follows us if we’re dedicated to creating it, and my writing life, outside of my motherhood, is the most sacred ground I know.
5) Please, share with us a bit about your Haven Writing Retreats.
L.M.: Haven Retreats are incredibly powerful. You do NOT have to be a writer to come. You simply have to be a seeker, willing to share in a group setting, and have a hunger to dig deeper into your creative self-expression on the page. I’ve worked with over 100 people and it’s like magic every time, watching them have breakthroughs on the retreat I design and facilitate. It’s a true honor and some of the most important work I can imagine doing, because it’s not just about being creative and opening your mind…it’s about raising your self-awareness and that translates to anyone, no matter where they are in their life. Haven meets you where you need to be met. I have a few spaces for my Feb. retreat, June is full, and there are still some spaces for next Sept. and Oct. You can find more info here: http://lauramunson.com/retreats/
6) Are you working on anything else right now? Other books?
L.M.: I am working on three books right now: a novel, a memoir, and a book about writing inspired by my retreats and what I have learned in my writing life.
7) Anything obsessing you right now?
L.M.: I’m totally obsessed with the power of retreats! I ADORE helping people go places they would never go on their own at Haven, and helping them to get a clearer sense of what makes them unique and special. I feel like I’m on a crusade to help people ask (and answer) the most powerful question I know: What can I create? And then apply it to their lives!
8) Thanks again for sharing your journey with us, Laura!!
L.M.: It’s been a great way to spend a snowy Montana morning. Thank you for your support of writers and the written word.
And now for the give-a-way: All you have to do is share this post (email, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and then comment that you shared and Laura’s book could be yours. (You can also drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with suject line, “I shared!”). This will enter you in a raffle in which 1 name will be drawn Saturday, Jan 18th. It’s that easy!!**
Bio:Laura Munson is the author of the New York Times and international bestselling memoir This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness. It has been published in nine countries and has been featured in Vanity Fair, Elle, Redbook, Time, Newsweek, Washington Post, and many other newspapers, magazines, and online venues across the globe.
Laura is the founder of Haven Writing Retreats in Montana and speaks on the subjects of empowerment through creativity.
Her work has been published in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, O. Magazine, The Week, Huffington Post, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, More Magazine, The Sun, and others. She has appeared on Good Morning America, The Early Show, WGN, many NPR stations, Hay House radio, as well as other media including London’s This Morning and Australia’s Sunrise. She lives in Montana with her family.
**The fine Print for Give-a-way: Open to U.S. residents only. Must let me know you shared to be entered…or, else I don’t know to enter your name. Don’t worry–your email won’t be used for anything else. Please check your email; this is how your will be notified if you won. Please check spam/junk mail and respond asap with your mailing address. If I don’t hear from you within 24 hours, I’ll have to draw another name. Good luck!!
[book cover image retrieved from Amazon.com on 1.13.14]