Give me a word, any word

by marinashifrin

If I’m ever on the cover of a magazine I’d request to get my armpits airbrushed, my left breast photoshopped so it’s even with my right and I’d possibly get some adult acne removed. But I know, for a fact, I would never want my words to be photoshopped.

Unfortunately, the words inside the pages of magazines are just as touched-up as the women on their covers. According to the kind, patient and intelligent editors at I’m-too-much-of-a-puss-to-name magazine, my writing was a little “too real” when I sent in the first draft of an essay they commissioned from me. I guess advising new mothers to give up their kids to truly pursue their dream job is a little much.

Magazines used to be so sexy to me. Now they’ve been replaced with books. I guess I am attracted to older, thicker forms of storytelling. An author’s sole responsibility is to believe in what she writes and stand behind it once it’s published. Secondary responsibilities include: being narcissistic and insecure, making poor life decisions, and complaining about how difficult writing is — get over yourself, me. Sure there are editors for books too, but they work for you, not visa versa. Yes, being a novelist is as cool as it is pretentious but when you’re in a league with Sedaris, Plath and Tolstoy who gives a fuck?

Books were always in my life-plan but they became more of a possibility a year ago. Last year 1,515 words and a man named Daniel Jones changed my life. Dan published an essay I wrote in a publication called the New York Times. The night it was published an old writing teacher gchatted me and said, “Now, you can tell anyone you meet that you’re a writer.” That’s what I started doing (though I still have trouble believing it). That night, I became a writer. Agents, magazine editors and film execs all reached out. They wanted to work with me, with my ideas and with my words. I did what any 25-year-old who has just opened all of the doors to her hopes and dreams would do: I climbed out a window and ran as far away from the risk of failure as possible.

A series of events has led me back to the open doors. It pleases me to say I have been given the opportunity to write a book. Don’t get excited. Anyone with a pen has the opportunity to write a book. But luckily for me, I’ve received the encouragement and funding I need to put together a bunch of pages (kindle files?) with my silly stories. Now, I just need one more thing from you, my dedicated friends, family and reader.

I am taking a page out of improv’s manual and asking the audience for a word. Maybe not a word, as much as a theme. Some examples (stolen from The Moth) include: Climbers, Regret, Do-Over, Only In Brooklyn, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Time, Out On A Limb, and the list goes on. I want to write each chapter based on the theme/word you gift to me. Don’t feel pressure. If this doesn’t work I’ll probably delete this post out of shame and embarrassment. We’ll all forget it ever happened. But if the blog-comment gods (AKA you people) smile upon me with a grand amount of themes, then I’ll pick an arbitrary number of chapters and randomly draw suggestions out of a helmet (I don’t have hats because I don’t feel hip enough to pull them off) and use those. Maybe I’ll film it so naysayers will believe me when the book is on the New York Time’s bestsellers list. HA HA. A GURL CAN DREAM, RIGHT?! Okay, sorry. That was so unprofessional. None of that nonsense will be in my book.

You essentially get to decide on a chapter title. How cool is that!? Maybe I’ll put your name under the title so you could be a writer too. That’d be neat. What I am saying is if you, my people, help me get started then maybe I won’t climb out the window this time.

Get creative, challenge me, leave me your chapter titles. On your mark, get set, go:

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