The Story of My Book: Nikki McWatters on One Way or Another
Nikki McWatters guest blogs for us about the story behind One Way or Another – a hedonistic rock ‘n roll memoir about sex, drugs and the Vulture Club.
If you are not a narcissist when you sit down to write a memoir, you will be by the time it is published. And soon after that, as you look down the aisles of bookstores and libraries and read the lengthy, monthly new-release catalogues, the sharp and rude reality-pin will pop your party and you’ll realise that now you are just another author. One of millions of authors. Anonymous and yet part of a wonderful club of wordsmiths that stretches back into different worlds and times. A club that calls Shakespeare and Sappho amongst its members. You find yourself humbled and tearful at that thought. You still feel special. But more like a snow-flake than the sun. And that somehow feels better. Safer.
Writing a memoir has been a rollercoaster of self-esteem for me. I set out to write it to recapture that spark of spunk that I had as a teenager, to remind myself that those dreams of winning an Academy Award and hooking me a rock star were worthy, if slightly deluded. I wanted to validate that wild young girl and tell her it was not all for nothing. That her voice had something to important to say.
Two years ago I found myself on the wrong side of forty, five children, overweight, introverted and kind of directionless. My husband dared me to write the story of my youth – a time of wild dreaming and dangerously lofty confidence. I locked myself away for six weeks and travelled back in time to the hedonistic glam of the eighties. Rock and roll. Tentative steps into sex. Mastering rock-stars. Playing with drugs like candy. Falling in love. Becoming a woman. Learning my own truths and finding my own boundaries of self-definition. By writing so passionately and so quickly, I found that I had gone from chunky and morose to spunky and verbose. Life felt good again.
The waiting game to find a publisher was gut-wrenching but the elation at being offered a contract from Black Inc. was one of those rare snapshots in your life that you will always keep tucked into your amygdala to take out and mull over from time to time. Then came editing. Cover design. Politely requesting endorsements. And then the drum-roll moment when you receive a box of fresh-smelling books with your name on it. That is a narcissistic highlight. A bucket-list moment. And those moments keep coming. A first review. A glimpse of someone borrowing it from your local library. It begins to feel surreal. And then the fears and doubts that you’ve gone too far, been too honest, been too self-absorbed, come crashing down around you.
Writing my memoir was therapy. It made me remember who I was at a time when I’d forgotten. It brought me back to life.
Living One Way or Another was my coming of age. Writing it has been a coming of a different age. Just don’t mention the M word!
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