Recently I sat at a local author’s table at Appletree Books selling my picture book, The Porch Dream, and met a wonderful local author, Tali Nay. Tali’s book “Schooled” is a memoir of her younger years up to the present – which I found fascinating because she is so young. Long ago memoirs were the domain of retired generals and long dead statesmen. But more and more it is a medium embraced by the younger and especially the celebrity crowd. Over the next few weeks, I am diving into memoirs and will bring you several books that have highlighted local lives with fantastic stories to come. Tali’s is a great place to start – her book gives honor to the everyday experiences of us all from birth to graduate school. All that school has left out, she has found and shared in her new book. I asked Tali a few questions to peak your interest.
When did the idea of writing your memoir come to you? I’ve always been a big proponent of personal histories, and as I was looking through mine after graduating from college, it occurred to me that the majority of my life up to that point had taken place in a classroom, and that I remembered the people and feelings I had much more than any facts or assignments. I thought it might be a nice idea for a themed book about the things we learn in school that don’t come from textbooks.
What was the hardest chapter to tackle? Why? Probably the business school chapters where I talk about actual companies. I didn’t want to throw anyone under the bus, but I also wanted to be honest about my experiences. I ended up changing the names of the companies to reach a bit of a happy medium there. Although my hope is that you can still tell who they are. I guess I secretly do want to throw them under the bus.
If you had to suggest just one chapter that defines who you are – which one would it be today? The Abandonment of the Moral Conscience is my favorite chapter in the book, and to a large extent, it’s a good summation of me as a person. Not because I’m at all unscrupulous, but because I’m very “spirit of the law” when it comes to myself and my personality and character. And since our own characters are constantly morphing and evolving, sometimes life seems like one constant round of self-discovery.
What is on your reading list to read? I’d like to read Quiet, the book about the power of introverts, and I’m currently re-reading a few of my favorites.
Do you often read memoirs yourself? Any favorites? Yes, memoirs are by far my favorite thing to read. There’s an extra sense of satisfaction in knowing that something really happened; that people really are this entertaining/heroic/crazy/brave (or whatever other characteristic their memoirs reveal). A few of my favorites include ‘Tis (Frank McCourt), The Secret Life of Cowboys (Tom Groneberg), and A Girl Named Zippy (Haven Kimmel).
Now after writing thousands of words about yourself – could you distill yourself down to just two? What would those two words be? Just starting.
What have you learned about yourself after writing the book that surprised you? I’d say it was a surprise to look at how similar the themes were throughout the book, even when talking about everything from my early childhood to my mid-twenties. I’m not sure we ever really get over the need to feel accepted, the wish to be popular, or the inherent desire to win or finish first. I was also surprised with my knack for swearing. “Where’d you learn to swear so well?” one of my old college professors asked me when he read it. I told him it must just come naturally to me. Like chess to Bobby Fischer.
What’s next? Another book! I have a few more planned that play off the same idea; universal themes we can all relate to.