Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Book Nook: Kicking and Screaming- A Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts

Melanie Gibson was an independent woman with a good job, multiple college degrees, and a condo in the trendy part of Fort Worth. She also had a few mental illnesses, a minor substance abuse problem, and rotten relationship skills. She was nearing a total mental breakdown and needed a good kick in the pants, literally and metaphorically.

As a last desperate means to save her sanity, Melanie turned to a nearly forgotten childhood activity: the Korean martial art of taekwondo. To her surprise and delight, she discovered her childhood taekwondo instructors’ Grandmaster operated a taekwondo school a few miles from her home. She restarted her training as a white belt and quickly learned that taekwondo had much more to offer than just learning how to kick and punch.

In taekwondo, Melanie felt like she had a fresh start in more ways than one. She found an inner peace she’d never known before, a sense of community, a newfound confidence, healthy relationship stability, and a positive outlook on life. The kicking and screaming she was doing in class quieted the long-suffering kicking and screaming in her mind. Funny and frank, Kicking and Screaming is the story of Melanie’s life-changing journey from troubled, lost soul to confident taekwondo black belt.

You can learn more in this interview.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write? The artist El Greco is credited with the quote, “I paint because the spirits whisper madly inside my head.” That’s why I write. I never wanted to “be” a writer or author, even though I do quite a bit of writing in my day job. I started my taekwondo blog (Little Black Belt: http://littleblackbelt.com) and later wrote the memoir because I HAD to get all the insights, ideas, and life lessons out of my head. Martial arts are so rich in emotional and mental growth and discipline, and I translated that into essays on my blog and the story in my memoir with the hopes that they could comfort, inspire, and make a connection with people…and to simply get the words out of my head so they’d stop “whispering madly” and distracting me.

What do you think makes a good story? A good story answers the questions of “What if?” and/or “What’s next?” and keeps readers on the edge with the hunger to have those questions answered. As a memoirist, I had to craft the events in my life into the construct of a good story with character-building, scenes, suspense, conflict and conflict resolution, and well-written dialogue. I’ve seen memoirs that basically say, “This happened, and then this happened, and then this happened,” and they’re very boring. That’s how life often plays out, but it’s up to the writer to make their own experiences interesting and relatable for other people.

Is there a message/theme in your memoir that you want readers to grasp? The main message is that there is hope for people who are in a difficult place in their lives, whether it is mental illness, which was my struggle, or other adversities. Growth and redemption are possible. It’s also a message of self-reliance and self-accountability. We can rely on other people, processes, and resources to an extent, but we may also need to make some adjustments in how we respond and act to see long-lasting change. I kept waiting for a relationship or some turn of events to save me, and I finally learned to save myself.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? At some point, in order to end up with a well-edited finished product, I had to detach in a way from what I wrote and see it as something that other people would read. Seeing the “pages” (internal layout of the book) was a jolt to my brain. Once I got over the excitement of seeing it as a book I began to see it objectively in a way that a new reader would. No one can read my mind, so I had to make sure the writing was clear and precise. That helped me catch errors and rework the writing to have more finesse and appeal to the “end user,” as I’d say in the corporate world.

Website: http://littleblackbelt.com

No comments:

Post a Comment