Waiting To Begin: A Memoir
by Patricia O'Donnell
Bottom Dog Press

"I hadn't listened to them since I'd had children: they were the songs of a woman listening to herself, to the movements of her soul—her 'stoned soul picnic' – and expressing them, her grief and her joy, without inhibition."

The pursuit of that which connects to our soul is not a walk in the park; it has costs as heavy as its gains. Waiting To Begin is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives, contemplating on a restart and a reroute. Packed with deep, quote-worthy lines, this memoir would help writers and other creatives (formerly called artists) navigate a range of personal and craft-related issues, more often conflicting, faced by someone who has tirelessly struggled and is now breathing and living the reality of creative pursuits.

O'Donnell narrates the life of a single mother who dropped out from college at nineteen and lived in the attic of an unheated and un-insulated old house. The narrative pivots in the author's receipt of an MFA in creative writing and directorship of a university's BFA program. O'Donnell jump-starts her memoir's storyline via a graduation ceremony in Maine where she was one of the three speakers. She then introduces the readers to the naively in love Iowan who moved to San Francisco with her boyfriend, and moved back to Iowa when she had no more reason to stay there. Years later, with two toddlers in toe, she moved again to another state, now in Massachusetts, which opened a gateway to possibilities, including stability in her newfound marital relationship. O'Donnell displays calm courage in telling her story, the neat and not-so neat facets that make the white-haired college professor that she is now. Hers was an inconvenient journey, laden with bitter truths, but chronicled in a raw, humbling, matter-of-fact way.

A memoir can move and affect readers and society at large, bridging the most common of experiences among us, particularly in this memoir among the creatives. O'Donnell summons all of her artistry to explore and embrace the real stories as they are. She draws upon the transformative points in her own personal and professional experience to provide a vast, wise resource in threading toward a far-fetched dream. Waiting To Begin contains maps to these transformative points.

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