January 13, 2015
SLO Nightwriters Review
By Jan Alarcon, Psy.D.
The general meeting began at 6:30pm. Our speaker, psychologist Dr. Kelly Moreno, wrote the psychological, legal thriller A Duty to Betray that pits a gifted young psychologist against a diabolical but brilliant former patient he suspects of faking psychosis. Kelly Moreno started writing this book 19 years ago, received more than 80 rejection letters, and burned through three literary agents before a small publishing house agreed to print it last September.
Dr. Moreno is a professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, I bet a favorite among the students, his style being down to earth and approachable. He encouraged us to find a book whose style we love and use it as the starting point for our own creation (his was Love’s Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom). He invited us to look for inspiration while engaging in physical activity, such as running on the beach (“each pound on the sand jiggled loose a deeply-blocked thought”), and ask for advice from published authors that can help us take our writing to the next level. Catherine Ryan Hyde (Pay it Forward) challenged Kelly to write part of his novel in the second person, and everything changed for him after he tried this. Last, most heart wrenching, he reminded us that, once your story is published, it is no longer your own—you cannot rewrite it, even the parts that you wish you could, and you can’t control how people will respond or interpret it.
Dr. Moreno inspired me to write courageously and to embrace whatever challenges and roadblocks may come my way on the journey to completing my work. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond—Jelaluddin Rumi.
Those of us who are born to write can do no less.
Until next month, Jan Alarcon