at Book Soup.
The Sex Girl is a work of fiction, but the feelings in it are at once personal and – hopefully – universal. Since I was kid I felt voiceless, so by writing this story I took my voice back and – at the same time – I tried to give voice to all those women that I met along the way, women that, like me, have struggled, but that haven’t been blessed with a way out, recovery, tools to overcome the obstacles.
At Book Soup, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the 13 of June, I presented my debut novel – The Sex Girl.
I was nervous, scared that the audience wouldn’t show up, but at the same time excited for the event – an important one in the life of an author. So I wore a pretty dress and prepared for the occasion the best I could. In my meditation I asked for honesty, and for the ability to share a message.
At 4:15 pm I was on stage. People came, many of them.
Before reading two sections from the novel I decided to briefly share with them something about my relationship with the story written in those 280 pages I held in my hands – because I have changed a lot from the Alice who wrote it, 5 years ago. So this is what I said, if you missed the event:
Lately I have been through a severe depression, one that brought me to be suicidal.
I barely went out and lay in the darkness of my bedroom for days, neither showering nor eating, only watching re-runs of Keeping Up With the Kardashians for 72 hours in a row – which says it all.
I considered and planned every possible way to die and felt guilty for it, because this past year has been the most beautiful of my life. I couldn’t see the cause of my pain, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t willing to smile, see the beauty, or to appreciate the ducks that had come to swim in our pool.
After all, in the past twelve months I fell in love, I toured the United States with the man who would become my husband, and this five-year long project, my first novel, got published.
So to go back to my depression, together with a big bottle of Prozac my therapist gave me some homework and asked me to read the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, and an essay.
In the essay I learned about Seattle-based author Jane Lotter who, shortly before her 2013 death, left a self-written obituary with a moving advice for her family:
“May you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path.”
My novel has encountered endless obstacles, from the very first day to the very last.
But the truth is that I choose to see everything as an obstacle in my life, for instance I wrote this book in a language that is not my native one, and instead of seeing the process as a fascinating one, a new way of learning about the English language and the American culture, I saw it as a burden that slowed me down; I felt stupid. And that’s just one example.
Looking back, to be honest, I aimed for the top of the mountain to such an extent that I missed the journey.
I don’t want to make the same mistake again. We all encounter obstacles, and if we don’t make them part of our path the joke’s on us. Really.
Thank you for coming to Book Soup. Thank you for supporting me.
The Sex Girl is currently for sale at Book Soup and will soon be available in every bookstore. Tell your friends, say it out loud on Twitter or Facebook.
Come back next week for a new episode of Coffee with Alice: Jeff Garlin