From Sex Appeal to Self Appeal - Susan Bremer O'Neill
I always admire when people have the courage to share their true stories: not just the sunshine and rainbows version. It's through the hard times that we truly learn about ourselves and about who we want to be. This memoir is no different. Susan shares the most difficult times of her life in an attempt to help other women avoid the same hurdles that she faced.
Susan tells her story in an easy to read tone that makes it easy to fly through the pages. I felt connected to her and found myself nodding at so many of the twists and turns she faced. I feel that her story is an important one for women to hear. If we all learned to love ourselves first, we could avoid so many of the relationship hurdles that are thrown at us.
Overall an excellent read. I felt her ups and downs, cringed at some of the decisions made, and remembered making some of those decisions for myself when I was younger. However, this book is not for the faint of heart. Susan outlines some difficult times in her life and while the lessons learned are incredibly powerful, the journey is not lighthearted.
Some Bio Information
Susan Bremer O’Neill, author, speaker, self-relationship coach and Self Appeal® Founder, has been a pioneer and trail blazer her entire life. She graduated from high school at the age of 16, then went on to complete a Laser Technology Program at the age of 23, graduating with high honors, the only woman with a group of men. Working in science for twelve years, she then abandoned that work and became an exotic dancer. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in 1998, produced the woman-empowering DVD, Striptease for Real Women in 2004, and today champions women’s and girls’ empowerment to value and love their body for their most fulfilling lives.
Although her highly personal memoir took her ten long years to write and publish, she’s become more prolific with the support of a loving husband and her family of five rescue animals, two dogs and three cats.
1. What made you decide to put your story into book form?
There are many women confused as to how to get and keep love. I wrote my story to further understand why I took the journey I did, and that perhaps other women will see themselves in my feelings and confusion and not have to make some of the same mistakes I did.
2. What would you like your readers to take away from your work?
First and foremost, I’d like them to have a good read. Second, I hope they gain some insight into themselves. Third, I hope they get inspiration and perhaps a loose road map on how to stop looking for love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. Fourth, I hope it prompts them to stop and really think about the situations they put themselves in and what is it they really want, not what someone else thinks or says they should want. Specifically, I’d like them to gain some power to set boundaries and say, “no.”
3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I start with notes on the computer. Once I have enough notes and the idea has blossomed with more relevant thoughts and concepts in my brain, it becomes a more realistic book idea (I have 3 books started right now). Next, I pick the book to focus on and print the pages out to sort through the notes and put them into chapters. I then print the pages out again and in the mornings when my mind is fresh, I sit in silence and edit and write long hand. The momentum and process of moving thoughts from my brain through my arm, hand and onto the paper helps me delve deeper and be more authentic.
I enter the writing into the computer at the end of the day, print the page or pages anew and start fresh the next day with a clean sheet and a clear mind. I spend a few hours on a page or paragraph and then I move onto the next paragraph or page. Once the entire first draft of the book is done, I go back into the writing and spend even more time, sometimes, as in the case of a memoir, I close my eyes and really put myself back into the situation in order to write about it more honestly.
If I’m really being true to myself, often in these moments there are relived emotions and that’s when I know I’m in the right writing space and that the episode is important to keep in. I’ve included some pieces in this first memoir that were hard to share, but leaving them out felt like it wouldn’t have been true to the book and the purpose.
4. How long did it take you to write your work?
All in all, the entire work from start to finish took me almost ten years. I had many fits and starts and much frustration. My biggest challenge, like many women, is that I was always looking for the “best” or “right” way to write. I probably wrote the equivalent of two entire books before this memoir, but this is the one story that has a beginning, middle, and an end. Then while I was writing, I had to learn to go deeper. The first draft was only one hundred pages and eight chapters but editors and friends told me they wanted more about relationships. It took me over five years to write what is now eleven chapters and 350 pages. After it was written, it took me a few years to get the courage to publish because I was worried about what others would think, especially my mother.
5. How would you describe your writing style?
I write creative nonfiction with an intense focus on first person and a commitment to truth. I fall into a natural rhythm of “show and tell,” often using an experience and then dissecting that experience with psychological insight. Even in the nonfiction writing that isn’t centered on memoir, I like to use first person experiences because people pay attention and learn more easily through story.
6. What’s the great piece of advice you can give to your readers?
On writing—Just do it! Write the shitty first draft. No one has to see that but you. You won’t get to the stuff underneath unless you get the stuff on top out. On a personal perspective, love has to start inside. Value your body and embrace the beauty and power of your sexuality in a healthy life-affirming way if you want to get, have, and keep love.
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
My goal is to help every woman (and ultimately every person) have positive nurturing relationships with themselves so they may have their best relationships and lives possible. I write nonfiction and while I have another memoir in the note gathering stage that continues where this last one stops, with my husband and how we develop our relationship, I also write self-development nonfiction to help people grow confidence, courage, and have more healthful choices.