Monday, October 30, 2023

Q&A with Lisa May Bennett




Lisa May Bennett is the author of the new memoir My Unfurling: Emerging from the Grip of Anxiety, Self-Doubt, and Drinking. She worked in marketing and communications for more than two decades, and she hosts the blog Bittersweet Nugget. She lives in Maryland.


Q: What inspired you to write My Unfurling?


A: I've wanted to be a writer since I was about 11 years old. I majored in creative writing in college and dreamed of becoming a published author by the time I reached my mid-20s. But alcohol and self-doubt got in the way for a very long time.


When I finally quit drinking six-and-a-half years ago, I promised myself I would recommit to my writing.


My Unfurling served as part of my healing process; it represents a long overdue effort to launch my career as an author; and it is my way of letting others know that they're not alone in their struggles with alcohol or whatever they feel might be standing in the way of their dreams. 


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: A couple months into my sobriety, I was in the kitchen dancing around and feeling good. Not every day was like that, but this particular evening I was bursting with joy.


The word "unfurling" came to me. I had been trying new things and writing, and it felt as if I were opening up after years of being stagnant. The idea of unfurling stuck with me; I even looked up YouTube videos of plants unfurling, and it was fascinating to watch! When it came time to title my book, I knew it had to be "My Unfurling."


Q: What impact did it have on you to write this memoir?


A: The process of writing My Unfurling helped me explore why I was so drawn to drinking in my teens and the years of self-doubt that led to that decision. I was able to see how alcohol had become woven into my life and why it was so difficult to give it up.


Through my writing, I uncovered other self-destructive patterns, as well as some strengths that kept trying to rise to the surface. I consider writing my memoir a vital part of my recovery.


Q: What do you hope people take away from the book?


A: I hope that people who read my book will realize that they are not alone. My story is different from many recovery memoirs in that I didn't hit a dramatic rock bottom. I hope that others will see that your life doesn't have to be falling apart to benefit from removing alcohol from your life.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I'm currently working on book two, which is about the self-publishing process. I want more people to write their stories and share them with the world.


Many people are curious about self-publishing, but there's a lot of information out there. It can be quite overwhelming to sort it all out, and lots of folks don't know where to start. Plus, the idea of having to market your book terrifies lots of aspiring authors.


By describing the process I went through with My Unfurling, I hope I can encourage others to follow in my footsteps.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: My Unfurling is about a lot more than quitting drinking. It's about building self-confidence, dealing with anxiety, my complicated relationship with my mom, being a late bloomer, my close friendships, and more.


There is a lot to relate to, and I hope each reader finds something that makes them feel understood and hopeful.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb