*Looking for an honest read? Check out this exclusive interview with Julie Metz. This week you’ll have a chance to win a copy of Julie’s memoir, Perfection!
Julie Metz is a graphic designer, artist, freelance writer, and life long New Yorker. Her articles have appeared in Glamour, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Hemispheres, and mrbellersneighborhood. Her nonfiction memoir, Perfection, is a New York Times Bestseller. Perfection is a harrowing true story of her life turned upside down with the sudden death of her husband, the betrayal endured when she learned he led a double life (insert triple gasp here), and her quest to rebuild her world.
1) Describe your journey to publication.
My book was published in an unusual way. My husband was also a writer. When he died he left a work in progress, one I thought I might try to finish for him. After the revelations of his infidelity, his agent suggested that I try to write something about my own experiences. I didn’t take this seriously at first, but over time the project evolved. Finding an agent is usually a big piece of the publication journey. There are various ways to find an agent: publishing short pieces that might attract the attention of an agent, submitting a proposal to an agent you think would suit your work. There are a good number of resources out there. I have found that Poets & Writers has lots of practical information for writers.
2) You’ve also written essays for The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour, etc. If I wanted to do that….how would I begin?
The Glamour piece came first—it was an excerpt of my work in progress. The editor approached me to see if I’d be interested in publishing an excerpt. After my book was published, other opportunities presented themselves. I still have to pitch the old fashioned way: write a good story pitch, locate the editor, send in pitch, wait, repeat. One writing coach I worked with suggested that a ratio of 20:1 was about right. That is, for every twenty pitches, if you get one, you are doing great. An agent will also help you in pitching stories for newspapers and magazines.
3) Who has been your biggest influence?
Many influences—writers who have been generous with their time, and others whose books I love to read and find inspirational.
4) What has been your favorite author experience so far?
I have enjoyed becoming more comfortable speaking in front of an audience or doing other media such as radio and TV. I had terrible stage fright as a child and now I find these experiences fun.
5) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing. Join or create a good support group of other writers.
6) When you’re writing, what do you have to have next to you?
These days I sit at a small writing desk. Objects on the desk: my favorite pebbles from Maine, a small statue of the god Ganesh (remover of obstacles!), external hard drive back up, notebooks, pencils, post it notes.
7) Tell me about your memoir, Perfection.
My book tells the story of the first years after my husband’s sudden death in January 2003. Seven months after his death, I discovered his infidelities and began a process of rebuilding my life. I called the book Perfection because like many women I had become preoccupied with wanting the surface of my life to look perfect. I was afraid to look under the surface.
8 ) Why did you decide to write such an open book?
I had a feeling that there were other women out there who had experienced this kind of loss. The worst part of infidelity is the experience of shame—the feeling that even if you haven’t done anything wrong, you are somehow to blame. Many readers who write to me have experienced this sense of deep shame and it keeps them from moving forward. I hoped that speaking honestly and thoughtfully about this subject would help me make sense of what happened and would be useful to readers. I have received letters from men too.
9) What advice would you give to someone whose partner has been unfaithful?
Be patient with yourself. Create a support network so that you can keep the essentials of life going while you make big decisions about your life. Accept that your life will change and that this can be a good thing in the long term though it will be painful in the short term.
10) If you could meet any author, who would it be?
Virginia Woolf, Vladimir Nabokov, E.M. Forster, Jane Austen. There are living authors, like Alice Munro that I hope I will get to meet one day. I do enjoy going to readings just to get an idea of who they are. It’s a great way to support new work and to feel part of a larger community.
11) Every one knows how much writers love coffee and coffee shops. So I have to ask…what’s your favorite coffee drink?
Latte. Lots of milk! I have one caffeinated in the morning, after that it’s decaf or I’ll be up all night.