I first saw Lisa in Mrs. Doubtfire. It was easy to identify with Lydia, the angsty teen Lisa portrayed. I was fifteen years old at the time, also angsty, and had gone through a divorce in my family, similar to the story line of the movie. Add to that the striking physical resemblance between Lisa and myself. My grandma was the first to point out just how much I looked like Lisa. Schoolmates made comments. Even a boyfriend of mine insisted I watch George Lucas in Love, because I looked just like the girl who played George’s love interest. While I feel our physical similarities have waned over the years, we’ve still got a few things in common. We’re attached to our Converse Chuck Taylors, the shoe of choice for both of us since the 90’s (I call mine my “dancin’ shoes”). We’re both viewed as extroverts, when in reality we’re closeted introverts. We’re also big into writing, something that has been a lifeline since childhood.
You Look Like That Girl gives an honest, candid look into Lisa’s life. We learn what it was like growing up a child actress, living like a vagabond amidst the many actors and actresses who have helped to shape who Lisa is today. It’s hard not to feel like she’s a close, personal friend- the girl next door with whom we can easily identify. It's thrilling to have her here, giving us insight into her writing rituals, her Converse shoes, and what truly makes her tick.
|Twins? (Lisa is on the left and I'm on the right.)|
Thanks to Kelley and Hall, we have FIVE copies of You Look Like That Girl for some lucky US readers!
Visit Lisa at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing You Look Like That Girl?
My biggest challenge was the spelling; I'm a terrible speller.
But really, I know that writers are supposed to say how hard it is to write a book and we're supposed to be dark and dramatic artists about it. It is challenging - but I enjoyed every minute of the experience. Writing is such a joy for me, so even when it is difficult, I am enormously happy about it.
I think the bigger challenge is what's happening now - the part when my book is out in the world and I'm talking to people about it. I'm an introvert, and so the phase when I just sit in my office with my dog and put words on paper is very comfortable. The solitary writer life suits me perfectly. But now that my work is not just a Word document, now that it is something public - that is out of my comfort zone. It feels pretty vulnerable to open up myself and my work to criticism. But it is thrilling to be able to share this book, and the fact that it already seems to be resonating with people is really meaningful to me - so I try my best to not crawl under the couch and hide.
Tell us about your writing process. What rituals or habits help you to stay motivated?
I am a big believer in boundaries as a writer. From 8:00 AM to noon is writing time. That is sacred space for me. I protect it pretty fiercely - no distractions, no brunch with friends, no cleaning the gutters just because I'm desperate to avoid facing down that blank page. I just write. I used to think that I needed to be "inspired" to write, but I learned that what I need most is to get myself in front of a keyboard. The inspiration always shows up after I do.
The other thing that is important is not to edit while writing. First drafts are terrible. That's what they are supposed to be. There was a time when I wanted the work to be instantly spectacular, but that pressure blocks the creativity. For me, it's all about flow and writing prolifically. I can always go back and clear away all the terrible stuff and really get to the heart of the piece. But in the beginning, I write like no one is ever going to read it.
That freedom of writing only for myself was the only way I could have ever written my book. When I originally wrote it, I had no intention of publishing. I had always used writing as a way to process the world, and I wanted to think through my life and my transition out of Los Angeles in a linear way. At a certain point, I realized that the theme I was noticing - trying to live an authentic life regardless of what people might think - was really universal. I realized it might be reassuring for other people to know that they are not alone with these struggles. Maybe the details look different, maybe someone is deciding whether or not to go back to school or work in the family business or marry the person who they are expected to marry - but the desire to stay true to who you are is innate and challenging and ultimately incredibly rewarding.
You're in inspiration to many of us who are working on our own masterpieces. Who are the authors that inspire you?
Well, let me just say, that first sentence makes me grin with joy. If I can inspire even one person to pursue their passion, whatever that is, I've done my job.
I recently went to the historic Algonquin Hotel in New York, a famed gathering place of writers. I spent most of the time in tears of awe, because writers like Dorothy Parker were my superheros when I was growing up. I still find writers to be absolutely magical. I find so much inspiration from the work of Barbara Kingsolver, Zadie Smith, Elizabeth Gilbert, John Irving, Donna Tart, David Sedaris, JD Salinger and Anne Lamott.
Like you, Chuck Taylors are my preferred shoe of choice. What do your Chucks do for you?
I do love my Chucks! I've been wearing them since I was 15. Now, I'm 36 and I think I'll wear them forever. At times, I wonder if I should wear proper gown-up-lady shoes, but I have some issues with these silly feminine ideals that have been foisted upon our culture. I think it's possible to be feminine without wearing stilettos. I like to feel comfortable and cute and like I'm not pretending to be someone I'm not. That's what makes me feel most confident. Chucks embody that for me.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, I hope to be doing another one of these interviews with you about my fifth book. I hope to be spending my time writing, doing yoga and hanging out with my family. So, I hope it's a lot like my life now, but perhaps I'll be a little wiser by then.
I wouldn't change a thing. Everything that ever happened has led me to this moment, and this moment is pretty perfect. One of the amazing things I've learned while writing this book, and looking back at my life, is that everything that I've experienced has made me who I am. Everything happened in just the right time and for a specific reason. Even the most difficult times in my life gave me important insight and understanding.
Wait, I take it back. There was one really atrocious haircut when I was about 16. I'd change that in a heartbeat.
Thanks to Lisa for visiting with us and to Kelley and Hall for sharing her book with our readers.
~Introduction and interview by Sara Steven
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