Camp Mighty is a weekend workshop I have attended each fall for the past three years. The event includes speakers, activities, smaller sessions, and a lot of conversation about how to live your best life. Setting goals, appreciating your current situation, learning from past decisions, etc. Your ticket also includes meals and evening cocktails, so I look at it as an all-inclusive weekend away to sit in the hot tub, clear my head and figure out what I'm going to do next.
The very first year I went to Camp Mighty (which was also the first year it took place) I decided to write a book.
Writing a book is scary. Writing a book is also really fucking hard sometimes. You are going to work on something, for a pretty long time, and then hope that people will buy it - and enjoy reading it. The stress can be palpable, and it is very easy to procrastinate or tell yourself it sucks and start over. Over and over again.
All of this is to explain why it took two years for me to actually finish the book. But I did, I finished it.
The book - my book - is called "Giving the Baby Back" and it is about all of the babies, the ones I have written about here, and the babies that I have never mentioned before, to anyone. My mom learned some new stuff when she read it. It's very personal, and I am really glad it's done, mostly because revisiting some parts of my life - however briefly - was a very difficult process.
So here I am at Camp, feeling triumphant: I set a goal, I was supported throughout the process by my friends, family and yes - my fellow campers, the book is done, and now I am back in Palm Springs, sitting in the hot tub thinking about what I should do next. And yesterday, I got to listen to Anna Dorfman and Piper Kerman and her husband Larry Smith speak about their lives and their work. I was really interested in hearing what they had to say. Anna talked about loving her job and being content and satisfied with the life she has created. Piper talked about creating community and supporting each other in life - even when that life is being lived in jail. Larry is working on a project called "Six Word Memoir" and asked each of us to come up with our own. As a person who can appreciate brevity but has never accomplished it successfully myownself, I decided to give it a shot. I am a dork who likes writing exercises, pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain. What can I tell you.
So I put up my own submission, via twitter: "Couldn't have baby, raising someone else's" Then I did the usual hash tag stuff that one does on the twitter. #campmighty #sixwordmemoir #givingthebabyback and I got on with my day.
During the afternoon, someone casually mentioned that a website was making snarky comments about Camp. "Whatever," I thought to myself. "I'm on vacation. Some people like to vacation by going to a city, or a jungle, or a beach. I like to lie in a pool in the middle of the desert, occasionally drying off to eat food or listen to someone tell their story. I am having fun, telling people about the book this event encouraged me to write, and getting a lot of sleep, by myself, in a king-sized bed. I give not a single fuck."
And then I got a text that said "you were just quoted in this article" with a link to a piece about Camp Mighty. It was those people, with the snark.
They quoted my tweet, and then said something like "Giving the baby back? That requires more than six words." I closed the site and went back to sleep.
Damn Straight it took more than six words. Sixty Thousand of 'em, actually.
I wrote a book. You will find a few things to laugh at in there, and some stuff that will make you uncomfortable. You might cry. I hope you like it, and if it's not your cup of tea I can totally respect that.
You can buy the book at www.givingthebabyback.com
You can look at a preview before you buy it on Amazon.
And soon, you will be able to read it in your library or buy it in a bookstore. I'm working on that. Self-publishing is teaching me a lot about humility and rejection. And so is the internet. Because who doesn't need more of that in their lives.
I'm going to eat breakfast and go sit in the hot tub now. Next year you should come too. It's nice here, and I feel happy and content. The internet is a big place, but an event like this makes it feel much smaller.
Snark all you want, I'm having a nice little Saturday.