Last week’s Book Journeys episode with Angela was an interview with author Glenys Newton who talked about her book, Home Flown: The Laymamma’s Guide to an Empty Nest. In her book, Glenys writes about the things she wished she had known when her son left home as she herself dealt with a tsunami of different feelings, finding herself experiencing the empty nest syndrome. She wrote the book to tell her own story in the hope that her words would resonate with other mothers and give them a voice to talk about their own experiences going through the same plight. The book has been well-received and has gotten great feedback, but unexpectedly, the best feedback she got was from people who didn’t have children. They expressed how the book helped them see their parents in a different light. Other interesting discussions that came around from the book were issues about siblings having to make the transition when a family member has left, and simply how the family dynamics change when one person is taken out of the equation.
Glenys has always enjoyed writing but what inspired her to finally get words into paper was the NaNoWriMo or the National Novel Writing Month where she met a lot of other people who shared the same passion to write a book. She describes how she also went through this big fear of being known in any way, shape, or form, but that it became a gradual opening up for her. The first time she wrote the book, she just wrote what she needed to write for herself, but when she rewrote and edited it, she found herself starting to give it away. By the fourth rewrite, she said she had totally detached herself from the book, realizing it didn’t belong to her but to everybody else out there.
Glenys is a trained storyteller and this worked hand-in-hand with her book writing which was really another way of telling stories. While storytelling may be different from writing a book in terms of the audience (with the former being live while the latter is not), for Glenys what’s important in both cases is that people remember the story and not you. In her own words, “It’s the story that’s important and that you’re actually giving it away generously and genuinely.” And this process has been very helpful to her in writing her book.
Glenys’s decision to publish came with a lot of bumps even as she massively researched on different agents and publishers and got a lot of rejections in the process. But she finally found a publisher who was endorsed by a person she met in a writing workshop. He was a one-man band who allowed her to do what she wanted with her book, and that is to have her voice remain authentic. She then had a friend help her with the editing and also asked other people to critique the book, such as her son whom she described as her best critic, and other people who didn’t have children so they would look at it impartially.
For Glenys, writing the book gave her the courage to step into her true self and do what she had always dreamt of doing. Her advice to those who’ve gone through something and would also like to share it by writing a book, is to just put pen to paper and start writing about what they are passionate about and they will never run out of words. She adds, “Whether it goes anywhere or doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t matter. The point is you’re following your dreams, and if you’re following your dreams, you’re actually making the world a much better place to live in.”
Watch out for Angela’s interview with another exciting author.