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They Only Eat Their Husbands

I just turned in the final edits on my manuscript to my editor, and he told me that the next time I see my personal story it will be a book, an object that women can hold in their hands, store on their shelves, or download to their Kindles. This journey started after I returned from my solo backpacking trip around the world, more than 11 years ago. In 2000, I edited a series of emails about my travels into a newspaper series, called "World Wide Wanderer." It appeared in The Rocky Mountain News and Santa Fe New Mexican.

I spent the next six years trying to find time to turn my transformative experience into a book. I began writing about my nine years in Alaska, where I ended up in a series of destructive relationships with alcoholics. and the year I ran away from that life to trek around the world in search of recovery. Working that first year as a newspaper and TV reporter, I didn't have much time to write. Then, I spent the next five years as a writer and producer for shows on HGTV, Food Network, and the Discovery Health Channel. For those jobs I traveled so much, and worked such long hours, that I still found little time or energy to write anything beyond a few travel articles here and there. When six years went by, and I was still only 50 to 100 pages into my memoir, I decided I needed to make a sacrifice.

I gave up TV production and become a part-time freelance writer and ghost writer. My husband and I watched our already limited household income drop by a third. But I was so much happier, and we had so much more time together, that every time I suggested maybe I should go back to production, he said, "No way!"

Within a year, by 2006, I had written about 1000 pages. OK, so now I'd gone too far the other way. "No one is going to buy a book that weighs more than their head," I said. As I spent the next year submitting my book proposal to agents, I kept trimming the book, until it was down to about 400 pages. In 2007 I found an agent, and he hit all of the big publishing houses. After one exciting nibble, they all turned us down, and we amicably parted ways. In 2008, I began submitting to small publishers. After a couple of dozen rejections, I went to a literary festival in 2009, where I met with an editor of a tiny one-man press. I was so confident that this would be another rejection that it was the most relaxed I've ever been in an interview. But that's not what convinced him to publish my book. He'd read most of it the night before, and he loved it. He told me he had a thing for stories about "The Lost American." He said," I'm prepared to offer you a contract today."

It was all I could do not to leap across the space between us and cover him with kisses - or possibly something less ladylike. But I held myself under control, tried to ask calm questions, and told him "I'd think about it." When I stepped outside I called my husband and squealed into my cell phone like a cheerleader, "I'm getting published!"

That was more than a year ago. A few months later, my editor tore his cornea. He dropped a book on his eye while lying in bed reading. I know, it's so ironic that it's hard not to laugh, and I did laugh after his eye started healing. But then he tore it again, not once, not twice, but at least three times. He delayed production on several books, then he cut a few authors loose. A couple of authors walked away from him, angry and frustrated over the delays and uncertainties. Through it all, he stuck with me, and I stuck with him. Still, for the past year I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But the next sound you'll hear will not be a shoe dropping, it will be the thud of a shipment of books arriving on my doorstep, for my party in Denver on November 5. That night, some 100 friends, colleagues, and I will celebrate the release of "They Only Eat Their Husbands: A Memoir of Alaskan Love, World Travel, and the Power of Running Away."

So now maybe you're thinking, "Wow. Eleven years." But this journey started even longer ago than that. It started 21 years ago, after a lover threatened to shoot me, and I ran away to Alaska. Or, if I think about it, it really started 47 years ago, when my father started a series of divorces, and my mother started a series of disappearances that would send me bouncing from household to household: from step-parents, to grandparents, to random people. I believe that's why I grew up with the desire to bounce from place to place, always wandering, always running away. For years, unfamiliarity always felt more comfortable than familiarity. And it was a great way to avoid abandonment. Maybe running away wasn't the best habit at first, but along the way it taught me things, and in the end it saved me.

I hope my story inspires other women to have the courage to run away from those people, places, and things that threaten to destroy them, and to run toward those things that will serve their souls. I hope it inspires women who have long let their lives be dictated by the whims, the dysfunction, or even the violence of others... to stand up and do something for themselves, and not apologize for it. Even if the risks are high, I believe it's worth it. As Americans like to say: freedom is not free.

This is not just a book about recovery, it's about discovery. I have found myself reflected in the world around me. The world is a big place with a lot of people. And I hope I've grown into a bigger person for having gone out to meet it.

***

If you'd like to share my journey with me, you can now order your copy of "They Only Eat Their Husbands" at:
http://www.ghostroadpress.com

Comments

aimeeknight's picture

Great story and

Great story and congratulations!!

"One shoe can change a life" ~ Cinderella

Cara Lopez Lee's picture

Thanks and...

Thanks for the kind feedback, Aimee.

I love your tag line by Cinderella. It made me think of this organization, called Children without Shoes International. Their mission is to give shoes to poor children in Nicaragua and other third-world countries, children who are often not allowed to attend school unless they have shoes. So, in their case, it takes two shoes, but those shoes can literally change a life. If you're curious, here's their link: http://www.childrenwithoutshoesinternational.org/Children_Without_Shoes/...

Take care,
Cara

Jennifer Brier's picture

Too funny!

That has to be the best title....how can I not go and get a copy! I love the concept of the 'the lost American'.

Congrats...
Jennifer

Jennifer

"I am a woman, that's my weapon!" ~Catherine Robbins

Cara Lopez Lee's picture

What My Mother Said

Thanks for your feedback on the title, Jennifer. My mother recently asked, "You're not going to KEEP that title are you?" Too funny is right. You can now pre-order a copy online at http://www.ghostroadpress.com. On Nov. 15 you can order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound & Borders. I have links to them at http://www.caralopezlee.com/books.php. Or you can walk into most bookstores & order one. I hope you like it!

jap21's picture

Hi Cara

I have off Pulsewire for a while, deppressed and without vitality. But today I came back and found so many interesting things going on... that even if I am not at home (because internet cannot be put into my home yet, and it has been out for a week already...), sitting in an internet cafe, I decided I cannot be away anymore. I have to come.

And I am coming back sending a big congratulations hug to you! I wish I could be in your party in Denver, please share a toast thinking of me and how happy I am for you :)))

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Cara Lopez Lee's picture

So Sweet

It suddenly hit me why people use the word "heartwarming," Jackie. I felt a friendly warmth fill my chest when I saw your congratulations note. Thanks so much for writing to me again. I've missed your online voice. I've been so overwhelmed with work lately, I've been away for a while myself. So, for me, your timing was perfect.

I'm sorry to hear you've been feeling low. I hope that it's only a phase that is passing and that you're finding ways to fulfill your needs and rediscover joy. You exude kindness & I suspect that will bounce back to you as you go forward. Take good care of yourself.

Love,
Cara

noreens's picture

Hi Cara, I LOVE the title -

Hi Cara,

I LOVE the title - it pulled me into your article! I will keep an eye out for your book, it sounds good. Congratulations on having it published.........all the hard work paid off!

Noreen

It's fun to know that the title is grabbing people's attention. I appreciate your interest, Noreen. Come Nov. 15, the book will be easiest to order online... at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the like. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy it.

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Wow!

Hi Cara!
I love the way you practically live your own lines - "the courage to run away from those people, places, and things that threaten to destroy them, and to run toward those things that will serve their soul". And you got such a tough life, girl - but an endlessly interesting and exciting one! Yes, freedom is not free - the price is high and the risk is higher, and most of the time we give both, we pay the price and take the risk, more to be than to become.

I wish I can get hold of your book, too, but that can wait. You are just a keyboard away from me, in this amazing World Pulse community. I like the title "They only eat their husbands", there's humor and subtlety. I remember a book written by three powerful Filipino women not so long ago. I was never able to grab a copy but I browsed a bit in it from a friend's collection. The title? "How to survive a sad, bad, mad marriage".... All the best to us, sister ...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Cara Lopez Lee's picture

Not so much...

You're very kind, Emie.

When I read stories like yours, about people who have lived through war and deprivation, I know very well that my life has not been so very tough. But I suppose we strong people who have suffered nothing more than the ordinary problems of families and relationships need to share our stories, too. I hope that an American woman who stands on her own, much to the surprise of many around the world, will inspire other women to know that such a life is possible.

Thanks for understanding where I was going with that title. I like the one you named, "How to Survive a Sad, Bad, Mad Marriage." I'm lucky that, in the end, I have married a man who is very good to me.

Does Amazon.com not deliver books in the Philipinnes? In any case, I'll repost here when I start selling my own copies. If you have a checking account or a credit card and can use PayPal, then you will be able to buy a book directly from my website, if you wish, Then, I could mail a signed copy to your address.

In any case, I look forward to learning more about each other on PulseWire.

Yes, all the best to you, sister!
Cara

Rita Banerji's picture

Congratulations!

It is such a fascinating title!!! It is hard to order books online from India. No amazon.com does not deliver to many countries -- including India. Oh Cara -- there is a lot of me in what you write here!!! Running away. Unfamiliarity is so much better than familiarity! For me though I think -- maybe even if I haven't faced abuse myself, I think it is the abuse I have seen other women in my family and community and country face -- that frightens me. I think their response frightens me. I fear being in their place. And I can't understand really why they don't fight back.

We have a case @ the 50Million Missing Campaign where a mother is fighting to protect her twin girls -- please support her petition Cara. Thanks and hugs

http://genderbytes.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/help-mitu-protect-her-twins-...

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

Cara Lopez Lee's picture

Women in India

I'm glad you like the title, RIta. Thank you. Thanks, too, for enlightening me about the difficulty of ordering books in India, Rita. If you would like to order a copy directly from my website, I will ship one to you in India myself.

I also recall that some books are censored in India that are easy to find here. I read "The God of Small Things" by Indian author Arundhati Roy, which is a beautiful book. I heard an interview with her in which she explained that people in her own country could not read her book, because it was considered pornographic. It addressed the subject of incest, but not in a pornographic way... rather as a sad family issue of concern. So India has also rejected some of its most talented citizens, simply for addressing real issues.

I appreciate you sharing the link about the 50 Million Missing Campaign. I read the article, and added my name to the petition.

Take care,
Cara

JaniceW's picture

Woo hoo!!!

Cara,
Oh, how I wish I could gatecrash your party in Denver to celebrate 47 years of finding yourself and having quite the adventure along the way, however unplanned. I can't wait to return to the US so that I can head into a bookstore and see piles of your book smiling down at me (much more fun than ordering online). I just know I will be laughing, crying and marvelling over your experiences, as I tag along for the ride.

Sending you best wishes for the launch party and know that I'll be toasting you on that day in Phnom Penh. With love,
Janice

Cara Lopez Lee's picture

Here's Hoping...

Janice,

It's so wonderful to read your well wishes from half a world away. Thank you for the kind note.

Here's hoping you're right about seeing piles of my books on bookstore shelves. Most Ghost Road Press titles are easier to find online than in bookstores, though you can order them through bookstores. And if there's enough buzz, the stores will order them. From your lips to God's ear...

Take care of yourself in Cambodia,
Cara

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