Out With It: My chameleon book

Out With It started off as a dream, a vague idea of finding myself in the voices of others. To face myself, to spend a year immersed in the subject I had spent a lifetime running away from.

As I started researching I got drawn into 100 lives across America. I spent a year as ‘the interviewer’. I listened to people’s lives, sat in their living rooms, drank their coffee and met their families. I became enchanted by each of them. What made them tick, where did they take their strength from, what worked for them, how did the rest of the world react to them?

I replayed their voices back as I transcribed their words, listened for the intonation in their voices. With my headphones on, blocking out the rest of the world, I was captivated by the variety of their stutterers, the specific cadence of each voice, their unique rhythm.

When I started writing Out With It I wanted to include all of the people I had met. Painfully I narrowed them down to a handful. My picks were neither the best nor the worst. They were just the ones I chose. The book that I wrote was a dedication to all 100 of them.

But it didn’t quite work. The characters didn’t stand out enough. The format of walking into someone’s home, or meeting in a coffee shop or even meeting on the street, started to sound repetitive. I was still hiding behind the stance of ‘the reporter’.

I had spent a year finding out about all these individuals. But, as different as we were, meeting each of them was like looking in a antique mirror. There were pieces where the reflection was dulled, where we didn’t reflect each other so clearly. But we had all worn the same shoes and any differences broadened my understanding, opening my eyes to pieces I hadn’t seen or known before.

What began as a book of oral histories morphed into a memoir. The writing was much more riddled with self-doubt and yet it was honest and vulnerable and I hopefed it would be compelling.

If I’m honest, I probably came to America searching for a cure. Not surprisingly that didn’t go so well but the book is about finding so much more than that. It is about the struggle we all make to accept ourselves as perfectly imperfect.

Struggle to write Out With It

Image courtesy of Don Moyer

11 thoughts on “Out With It: My chameleon book

  1. ditto that – totally inspiring.

    As someone who is in the oh-so-very early stages of attempting a novel, I think you’ve been marvellous already – and that you are perfectly perfect.
    Good luck with it. Keep on keeping on.

  2. Thanks guys! Can’t tell you how much that means. Hels – what kind of novel are you writing? I’m so intrigued…keep me posted.

  3. I can see how a memoir would work for you Kat- your blog writing is in that kind of style right? I am so so confident I’m going to see you on the NY Times Bestseller list in the very near future. Keep going!

  4. Amelia – lets hope so! I created the blog this way to try out a really personal style of writing. The book takes to another level though.

  5. Kat, I think your blog writing is incredible! Really, I read so many blogs and very few have the quality of writing yours does. To be able to make a subject which is completely irrelevant to me interesting is amazing. I tell people about your writing all the time!!

  6. Amelia – Thank you! You just brightened my morning. Maybe self-doubt is the natural state for most writers but that kind of awesome feedback is enough to banish it…for a few moments at least :)

  7. Pam – enjoy the course. Looking forward to seeing what you write. If writing is hard, selling a memoir is even harder!

  8. Wow, wow, wow. Your last paragragh really struck a cord with me…

    I think it’s really interesting being people (women) who stammer around our age. I think a lot of us have spent our teens, early 20s, etc deeply unhappy, hiding, feeling ashamed. Then starting the journey of discovery about stammering, often “trying to find a cure” and on that journey having to confront that we may just have a stammer and it’s ok to admit that and deal with it!

    Best of luck with continuing to write the book, I’m sure we will all read it one day and love it :)

  9. Julia, amazing to hear from you. I totally agree that there’s a rhythm to alot of people’s lives, that we’ve been through many similar experiences. Not just stuttering but life in general, the maddening process of not trying to be ‘perfect’. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to read the book sooner rather than later…I’d love to hear your reactions.

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