Today's 5 Q&A is with Amanda Ford, author of Kiss Me, I'm Single: An Ode to the Solo Life
1.) Who are you?
Love this question! It reminds me of that moment in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland when the hookah smoking caterpillar asks Alice, "Who are you?" and she responds, "I hardly know, sir, just at present--at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."
Who am I? Mostly I'm not sure. But there are a few things I can say for certain. I love to write. I have written a few small, books that fit somewhere in that indefinable category where self-help collides with memoir and marries philosophical pontification. I write freelance articles for newspapers, magazines and websites. You can see a sample of my work at www.oholive.com.
I also love to bike ride, cook, host tea parties, flirt and Lindy Hop.
2.) Why did you write this book?
When I was 22 I married my college sweetheart only to file for divorce two years later. We were too young and despite the fact that we really did love one another, my ex husband and I needed to live our lives as adults before settling down. We needed to "find ourselves" if you will. I knew pretty early on in our marriage that we had made a mistake. I often joke that as soon as the honeymoon ended, our marriage ended. This isn't far from the truth, although I didn't want to admit it at the time. It's scary to be a young newlywed filled with regret. I ignored my gut for nearly two years and worked really hard to make my marriage work, but in the end it wasn't right. My epiphany came one afternoon in the form of a daydream about myself in my 40s with daughters in their late teens. I imagined myself telling my girls, "Don't get married young like I did. Live alone. Travel the world. Date many, many men. Experience everything before getting married." It was a hard slap in the face to see myself already living vicariously through daughters that hadn't even been conceived. That daydream made me realize that if I didn't leave my marriage I would regret it for the rest of my life.
So I got divorced. And getting divorced was one of the biggest acts of bravery and self-care I had ever performed. I had been without-a-doubt certain that marriage was what I wanted, yet shortly after my wedding I realized that I did not want it at all. It scared me to see that something could feel so right in one moment and then so wrong in the next. I was embarrassed, disappointed, humbled. I was excited by the new possibilities that came with being single, but also scared by the uncertainty of it all.
In order to make sense of my new position in life, I did what I know best: I wrote. I have always used writing as a way of grounding me during chaotic times. For me the best writing comes from uncertainty rather than certainty, from a question rather than an answer.
Kiss Me, I'm Single is what came out of those years of writing after my divorce. I did not want to write a book that was anti-marriage or even a book that was pro-single. These slants bore me. I am interested the universal, in what transcends circumstance. Existential crises seem to be forever erupting within us, sometimes because of specific events, sometimes for no apparent reason. This is what interests me. Why am I here? How can I make the most of my time on this planet? Why am I happy one moment and sad the next?
3.) Your mom is also a writer. Will you be collaborating with her on any future projects?
My mother and I have been writing together for a long time. She got her first publishing contract when I was in 9th grade and I remember her working on the book at night and calling me into her office to read passages to me. I would correct her grammar and offer my opinion of her stories. When I was 19, she and I co-authored a book together called Between Mother and Daughter. It was a remarkable experience and a great way for me to get exposure to the publishing world.
I don't think my mother really considers herself a writer despite the fact that she has written nearly a dozen books. She considers herself a therapist (she has a private practice as a family counselor). I, on the other hand, am a writer. I don't think my mom has the desire to write another book, and I'm not sure that I want to share the page with another voice.
My mother will definitely remain a character in my work and a muse of my work. She is my biggest inspiration. She asks me daily, "Did you write anything new today?" When the answer is yes, she insists that I read to her, no matter how small or rough. My mom insists that every word I write is brilliant. I wouldn't be where I am without her.
4.) How do you celebrate your singleness?
I don't really view my life in terms of single or coupled, so I don't really celebrate my singleness so much as I simply celebrate my life. I try to savor every moment, to be aware, to notice details as I go about my day. I remain open to possibility. I flirt. I dance. I ride my bicycle. I pray. I laugh. I pour myself into my creativity. I love my friends and family with every ounce of my being. I get a kick out of life. I don't take any of it too seriously. I try to enjoy what comes to me rather than stress about making things happen as I think they should be.
5.) What's next?
I'm working on a book about my mother's childhood and her adulthood and how her life has influenced my childhood and my adulthood. I've been describing it as Joy Luck Club meets Eat, Pray, Love meets A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius meets House on Mango Street meets something utterly indescribable that is uniquely Amanda Ford. When the book is done, I'm going to adapt it to a screenplay. Jason Reitman is going to direct the film and Reese Witherspoon is going to star in it. That part about Jason Reitman and Reese Witherspoon is wishful speaking, but I feel pretty confident that I will make it happen.
Thanks so much, Amanda!