LTYM is proud to help 2012 Northwest Arkansas Director/Producer Lela Davidson celebrate the first anniversary of her book of essays Blacklisted from the PTA! Lela brought the house down with her essay “Whore Barbie” (from the Blacklisted) at The BlogHer ’11 LTYM Open Mic Salon, and went on to bring LTYM to her hometown this past April. One of the most prolific online women I know, in addition to penning her first book Lela writes for Today Show Moms, she serves as a video correspondent for iVillage iVoices and also as associate editor for Peekaboo Magazine. Below I’ve asked Lela to share some of her experiences over this past year. Make sure to comment so you can win a signed copy of the book!
You seemed completely at home reading “Whore Barbie” out loud at The BlogHer Open Mic Salon of 2011. What has the experience of reading your writing been like for you through LTYM, and through promoting your book? Has it affected your writing process or impacted any of your future goals?
Reading my writing out loud was actually part of my early creative process. I used to sneak out of the accounting office, where I was supposed to be filing trust tax returns, on Tuesday afternoons to meet with a “life writing” group. In the middle of Barnes & Noble I read my responses to the free writing prompts we were given. It was unpolished and scary. Reading “finished” work is weird because audience responses can surprise you–for better or for worse. Since the Listen To Your Mother Open Mic Salon in 2011, I’ve been recording the essays from Blacklisted from the PTA and posting those on my blog and website, which is even weirder, because I’m talking, but nobody’s listening. It’s like marriage that way.
Now that you’ve been through the process from writing to publishing to promoting and selling–what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an author?
Oh, so many things! You really really really do have to love the process, because it’s a never-ending loop. That, and continuous re-priortizing. I’ve learned to consistently create and promote, but also to leave space in the schedule to take advantage of unforseen opportunities! I knew publishing was a tough business. I’ve learned it is much tougher than I could have imagined. And before this year, I never considered writing part of the entertainment business. Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either.
I feel “incredibly blessed” to wake up each morning and do the work I enjoy. I also feel “incredibly exhausted” sometimes for the amount of effort it takes to earn a living from my chosen work. More and more I feel honored that so many can relate to the small stories I tell.
You are a consummate mover/shaker. In addition to everything Blacklisted-related you write for Today Moms, you’re an ivillage correspondant, you own a publishing company–what future projects are you working on?
I recently had my first commentary published on The Huffington Post and look forward to contributing more. I’m also working on a second essay collection. Details might be coming soon ;)
Finally I have never needed to Boo-basket my neighbor, and no one has ever shot any rabid rodent while I attended their social function. As a blogger I’ve only recently begin to see my online and real life merge–where people I know read and comment back to me on something I’ve written. How do your family, friends, neighbors, and the PTA moms react to Blacklisted?
For the most part, I think people enjoy finding themselves in the stories I tell. I could be wrong, but I’ve come to terms with that. Im careful about what I write about my family and closest friends, but beyond that, I’ve decided not to let others dictate my writing. I’ve irritated my share of neighbors, but I’m not sure that had as much to do with writing as with expressing my opinion in general. I’m usually not mean, and when I am, I usually don’t write it down. My mom knew Barbie was a whore.
To win a free personalized copy of Blacklisted from the PTA, leave a comment below by 11:55 CST next Thursday 7/12/12 . I’ll choose a winner at random and announce the following week.
Going to BlogHer? Don’t miss LTYM’s Open Mic Salon of 2012. Listen to your blogging peers read their work, and throw your name in for a chance to read yourself! In 2011, the Open Mic Salon was full-to-bursting with attendees and with love for the written word. Please join us!