Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Price of Authentic Voice—An Acrophobia’s Trapeze Nightmare

I'm delighted to welcome a guest to my blog today, Linda Crill, author of a fascinating real-life  book called Blind Curves--One Woman's Unusual Journey to Reinvent Herself and Answer What Now? It's got the Pacific Northwest, motorbikes, wine country, tattoos and piercings, amongst other things. And the reader might get to share the author's journey from misery to health along the way. But at what price?

Over to you Linda, and thank you for visiting my blog.

The Price of Authentic Voice—
 An Acrophobia’s Trapeze Nightmare

The Roots of the Nightmare
When I decided to focus on becoming a successful author, I didn’t expect that route would include learning to fly on a trapeze. I’m afraid of heights, and this scary experience was close to the top of my never-do list. But I found myself contemplating just that, after attending a 5-day writers’ retreat studying with New York Times best-selling author James Rollins.

Study with James Rollins
I arrived at the workshop carrying my almost finished manuscript, Blind Curves—One Woman’s Unusual Journey to Reinvent Herself and Answer What Now? It’s my real-life story of how after eighteen months of over-achieving at following one-size-fits-all advice for a 57-year-old widow, I was still miserable. In a moment of rebellion, I traded my corporate suits for motorcycle leathers and committed myself to a 2,500-mile road trip on a Harley with only thirty days to learn to ride. Blind Curves tells my story about this decision, and how I rode a full-sized, 800-pound motorcycle from Vancouver, Canada, to the wine-country of California with fear on one shoulder and excitement on the other.

Scary Gravel Road
On the third day of the writers’ retreat, James Rollins asked us to bring an action scene to class. I chose a California one where we decided to complete a 32-mile one-way loop through a deserted redwood forest. Twenty-five miles into this ride the road’s surface deteriorated from a two-lane asphalt to a single-lane, hard-packed dirt road. We couldn’t turn around because it was one-way. Then around a sharp curve, we faced an even tougher nightmare for a new rider like me. The road turned to loose gravel with washed-out crevices and 4 sharp hairpin curves that zigzagged its way up the side of a steep hill.

Forget Real Time
When I presented this story, James pointed out that my description about riding up the challenging hill took just 2 short paragraphs. He reminded us how thriller writers draw out time and could make opening the door of an abandon warehouse cover multiple pages. He coached me to forget real time and share with readers my thoughts and feelings of riding each section of that hill. Later in a personal feedback session, he highlighted more places in my manuscript where I should reveal in greater detail how Linda experiences fear and trepidation.

Stumped by No Voice and No Words
When I tackled the necessary rewrites, I was stumped. One of the challenges of writing a memoir is keeping your written voice authentically you. But when I tried to describe how I personally dealt with fear that’s different than others, I found myself lacking necessary words. It had been 2 years since I had completed the motorcycle journey and exact memories of that extreme fear had faded. Also, I appear to most others to handle whatever life throws my way. It’s rare that I talk about my fears except on rare occasions to a close friend or family member.

The Trapeze Nightmare Assignment
I decided to do research and asked myself what I was afraid of that I could use to study how I experience and process fear. I’m frightened by heights so I signed up for a five-day learn-to-fly trapeze camp in Upstate New York.

Flying, Then Writing
On the first day as I walked to class, the large outdoor circus-style trapeze set-up grew more luminous and foreboding as I processed its size and proportions. In class, every time I climbed the twenty-foot hanging rope ladder to the narrow 12-inch-wide platform I’d fight waves of fear racing through my body and pounding inside my chest—a sound that would have seemed louder if it weren’t simultaneously being drown out by an inner screaming voice demanding: When would I learn to say no to such stupid ideas?

Authentic Voice at a Price
Daily in class, I’d face my fears and fight my desire to retreat. And every evening, I’d write my observations and feelings in a journal. At the end of the week, I had ample notes and was ready to add more depth in an authentic voice to my manuscript.

When people ask me what did I learn on the motorcycle trip, I laugh and say it wasn’t half as difficult as writing a book. They look at me puzzled, but a writer’s life can be just as challenging and filled with unexpected adventure. An author’s search to find their own authentic voice and be true to it can come at a huge price.

Author Bio:
Linda Crill is a sought-after speaker, trainer, and thought leader on mastering the new leadership skills: reinvention, resiliency and chaotic creation. She is the author of Blind Curves—One Woman’s Unusual Journey to Reinvent Herself and Answer What Now? A story of reinvention where Crill trades her corporate suits for motorcycle leathers in a moment of rebellion on a quest to answer “What Now?” For more information visit This book is available in both softback and eBook versions from all major online booksellers as well as orders placed by your favorite bookseller.
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