I always wanted to be a writer, but when I put pen to paper, it never felt authentic. All of that changed when at the age of 43, I came out of the closet. I was a late bloomer.
I started writing stories about what I could not find in the world, short posts about my new life with my husband and our blended family of five children. I shared them on a personal blog called The Authentic Life. They were intended to be bread crumbs for others to follow, those who needed to know that there could be something wonderful on the other side of the closet door.
The Huffington Postpicked up one of my short essays, titled “My Father, Myself,” and published it on Father’s Day. That is when I first believed that I could write a book. I signed up for my first Gotham Writers Workshop course, Memoir I on 12/12/12.
Elizabeth Cohen was my instructor, and each week, she challenged us to dig deep, to be supportive of each other, and to read. The assignments helped us learn how to create compelling stories, write engaging dialogue, and what exactly an MDQ is (major dramatic question). My goal for that workshop was to create an essay that I could publish in a literary journal. At the end of that course, I published an essay in the Saranac Review.
I developed a wonderful relationship with the instructor and decided to take the next memoir class, Memoir II with Elizabeth. I felt like a kid listening for the music from the ice-cream truck each week as I waited for feedback from my instructor in the form of “blue marks.” The students were respectful and the critique necessary to grow as a writer. Elizabeth’s motto for many of the painful experiences we were exploring was, “Bad for life, good for the book.”
I kept taking Gotham courses and kept writing chapters.
When I wrote a chapter about the final haircut my ex-wife lovingly gave to me at the end of our marriage as a way of saying goodbye, Elizabeth implored me to get an agent. Instead, I sent a condensed version of that essay to the New York Times. “After 264 Haircuts, A Marriage Ends,” was the fifth most popular Modern Love essay that year and within 30 minutes of its publication, an agent contacted me.
It took five years to write my book, “The LIE: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out,” which was published on July 1, 2019. It has been reviewed in The New York Times Review of Books. which stated that it was the first memoir to tackle the tale of a queer parent coming out later in life: “It tamps down the tall grass of untold experience.”
My book-publishing journey began on December 12, 2012—one-two, one-two, one-two—and that is how I reached my destination by taking it a step at a time with Gotham by my side. At fifty-five, I’ve published my first book, proof that it is never too late to become your true self and realize your dreams.
Live your truth.