I learned about Maria Socolof’s book after she sent me a message about my book. It had an intriguing title and description, so I decided to pick it up and read it. I am sure glad that I did.
While our stories and healing journeys are different, there are many similarities that connect us. I am always intrigued when I find others that go to the source of a situation and find a way to get the body to release, let go, and heal in profound ways.
Question 1: Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a mother of two, wife of one, environmental health scientist, survivor of chronic pain and trauma, author, speaker, and “former” gymnast (I put “former” in quotes because I will forever identify as a gymnast, whether I’m still actively flipping around or not).
To date, I have written one book. It’s a memoir that describes my journey of healing from chronic pain. It’s at times raw, but as I’ve been told, ultimately uplifting. My story attests to the impact emotional trauma can have on the body and how we can set ourselves free from the limitations of our subconscious and ultimately heal.
Question 2: What is the name of your book and what inspired it?
My book is titled The Invisible Key: Unlocking the Mystery of My Chronic Pain. I was inspired—more like compelled—to write my book when I discovered that past traumas were feeding my debilitating chronic pain, and that once I began to process that knowledge, I found hope and healing.
I was also driven to write my book in the hope that it would help others suffering from pain and trauma. And while I didn’t consciously set out to write for catharsis, I believe my compulsion to write was my brain telling me that I needed to clearly present and understand my story to further my own healing.
Question 3: How long does it take you to write a book?
It took me twelve years to write my first and only book, in part because I was managing chronic pain, raising my two girls, and for several of those years, trying to maintain my career. While I couldn’t ignore my near obsession with writing my story, I forced myself to place writing as a last priority so that I could tend to my health and my kids. Yet all the while, I never gave up on my goal of completing my memoir.
Sensitive issues in the book also made me hesitate—or maybe subconsciously stall—as I got closer to publication. I worried about hurting others if I were to publish. But I trusted my intuition and the inner force driving me and finally went forward to complete and publish the book.
I suspect my next book will take much less time since my circumstances have changed. My kids are out of the house, my pain is far less, and I’ve overcome many barriers by writing the first one. Plus, I already have volumes of pages written that I didn’t have room for in my first book.
Question 4: Describe a typical writing day.
When ideas flash into my head—while walking, lying in bed, eating a meal—I try to jot them down somewhere for fear of forgetting them later. My memory isn’t always the best. When I start writing actual prose from scratch, I’m usually lying back on a couch or bed with a spiral notebook and pen in hand. This is to accommodate my chronic neck pain. I then switch to the computer to type up my scrawlings, and head back to my propped-up horizontal position to hand edit my work. Lather, rinse, repeat.
When I began composing my narrative, I would only allow myself time to write when my kids were in school. They were my priority and I couldn’t take time away from them when my ability to do most activities, including standing up for too long, was severely limited. Yet I found I also couldn’t ignore the need (obsession?) to write.
When I’d be lying down resting my neck, my heart would begin to pound. It was telling me to get up and write. And so I did. Now that my kids are in college and graduate school, and my pain is far less than it was several years ago, I have more flexibility for when I can write. But I still follow the same pattern of filling hand-written notebooks while lying down and then rotating back and forth between the computer and bed or couch to transcribe and edit.
We adopted a dog a few years ago, so I sometimes also re-read my writing while walking him. I try to make edits while the jerking leash tugs at my arm. That never works too well. My scratchings are usually unintelligible.
Question 5: What is the best advice you have ever heard?
This is not directly related to writing, but I think it can be applied to many things, including writing. The best advice I ever heard was “sleep when the baby sleeps.” As a new mother, back in 1994, I learned quickly how exhausting caring for an infant could be. And as a go-getter, I always tried to use my time productively. That meant never stopping. Filling in gaps of time with work or play. One’s perspective can change quickly when nearly every waking moment is consumed with caring for a helpless child.
In those few moments you get to yourself, you use them to do what you need to do—eat and go to the bathroom. You have high hopes of doing even more than that. But when you do accomplish bonus tasks, the fatigue overwhelms you. You realize you can hardly function. Sleep deprivation is real and holds our bodies and minds far below full capacity. When I heard this simple piece of advice about sleeping, and took it to heart, my brain began operating at a much closer-to-normal level.
I now relate this to all activities in my life. Sleep is one of the best medicines. And as someone with chronic pain, I crave plentiful rest. As for writing, being well-rested helps increase the likelihood that I’ll have a clear mind and the physical stamina to hold my head up and sit at the computer to edit, re-write, publish, and market my work.
Question 6: What, for you, would mean literary success?
Literary success to me would mean that my book reached and helped at least one person with whom I otherwise wouldn’t have connected. And as a bonus, that I reach many more people than that.
Question 7: What’s next for you as a writer?
When I set out to write my first book, and finally wrote down everything that I wanted to say, I had about a thousand typed pages in front of me. Single-spaced on 8.5” x 11” paper, that’s about 500,000 words. I pared it down to 370,000 words for a first draft, which was still ridiculously long for a first-time author and non-famous memoirist, so my editor told me. In fact, that first draft was nearly five times longer than my final published product. My editor said she wouldn’t start editing until the manuscript was fewer than 90,000 words. I complied. Then with her help, I tightened up my prose to finally publish a 77,000-word memoir.
When I had to package my book into a palatable length for my readers, I felt I would be remiss in leaving so many important words on the cutting room floor to wither and die. When I condensed my story, I removed themes that I knew could be part of a stand-alone second book. Plus, more has happened in my healing journey since the timeframe of my first book. As a result, I am working on memoir #2, which is a supplement to and continuation of my pain and trauma healing story.
I also occasionally post on my blog and prepare guest blog posts for others. I don’t commit to a regular posting schedule because I subscribe to the “sleep when the baby sleeps” adage, as I mentioned earlier.
Question 8: Where can someone purchase your books, and how can they reach you?
There are many places where my books can be found. See the list below. In addition to Amazon, you can purchase my book at The Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, NY.
Buy Books By Maria Socolof
On Amazon US
For Borrowing At The Long Island Libraries
- Port Washington Public Library
- Locust Valley Library
- Plainview – Old Bethpage Public Library
- Oyster Bay-East Norwich Public Library
- Levittown Public Library
Contact Maria Socolof
Facebook: Maria Socolof Author
Instagram: Maria Socolof Author
GoodReads: Maria Socolof
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