How to Write a Book that Tells Your Authentic Story
on September 3rd, 2019
A story of how Gen Georget wrote a book--written by Malary Hill & Kathy Catmull
A “tidal wave whirlwind.”
That’s how Genevieve Georget describes her experience of overnight viral fame. After ten years of writing quietly for herself and her photography clients, a single Facebook post gave her an overnight platform that now numbers thirty-five thousand and growing.
On the crest of that wave, she started writing a book, Her Own Wild Winds, which was an instant success. But after an exciting year of book signings, podcast interviews, and other recognition, she returned home exhausted and, surprisingly, sad.
I had become what everyone needed me to be. I hadn't taken the time to figure out "Who am I as a writer? What is my message, and how do I want to serve this community. It was really difficult, learning what it was like to feel really isolated—not just from people in general, but isolated from the person I thought I was—and learning to have grace through that, learning to have compassion, and learning to just say, "If people don't like it, then that has to be okay, too."
That “uncomfortable year” of “finding my way back to myself” became the inspiration for writing her new book, Solace, which debuts on September 19th. Gen recently spoke with Round Table Companies about Solace, storytelling, family, and the delicate balance of it all.
RTC: How do you write your books with so much vulnerability? Isn’t it scary to open up that way in your writing?
A: It is so scary to write a book. And the answer is—with practice. The first time I ever did it I was completely terrified. I was writing a letter to my son after our daughter had been born, because he was struggling a lot and he outright rejected me for three months straight. I was suffering and hurting, and I just remember writing the letter to him and putting it online. It was the first vulnerable thing about myself that I had ever posted in the public domain. I was physically shaking when I did it. But that feeling went away—that really crippling feeling inside of me went away—and instead of being this mother who was failing her son and being a bad parent, I became a mother who was simply tired and hoping to help her son get through a life transition. There was a complete shift in my emotions as soon as I put it out there.
And that is when I started to learn that a lot of my feelings, specifically my negative feelings, were based in shame. I had a lot of shame surrounding some of these emotions. And I realized that they could only really thrive in isolation, and so the moment that I put them out into the world, it is kind of like setting them free.
RTC: Can you share with us a little bit about your book writing routine and what a typical day looks like for you, if you have one?
A: To be honest, I don’t have much “typical” to my days because of my kids and working from home on book writing. As many of us know, those things we try to make routine often go out the window almost immediately.
The one part of my day that I do try to really keep sacred, however, is early mornings. My husband gets up super early to get ready for work, so I do my best to get up with him. We don’t talk; everything is quiet. I make coffee, and I usually sit down and I write for a couple of hours before the kids get out of bed. That is my super-sacred time—when the world is still waking up and I have all of my undisturbed moments. Then, no matter how crazy the rest of the day goes, I at least had that.
And at the end of the day, if I can, I usually try to snag about an hour right after the kids come home from school, during their quiet time. I put on my favorite jazz music and light a favorite candle or something and just unwind. My writing bookends my day, and it allows me to put everything out.
RTC: I would love to hear a little bit about writing this book, Solace, which is a collection of your short essays paired with your photographs.
My dream had always been to have a coffee table book, one with beautiful photos and little snippets of writing and lessons and reflections. So Solace is really the book I had always wanted to write, minus it being a coffee table book; I didn’t want to have to sell it for forty dollars a copy or more. One of the things that our readers kept telling us is that they carry the book with them—that they put it in their bag and read pieces of it, and then they write notes or mark pages. So we wanted to make it really accessible and really easy to take with you.
RTC: You’re also a professional photographer. How does your photography interact with your writing, if it does at all?
A: It totally does. I started photography ten years ago, and I was photographing all these beautiful weddings and these couples getting engaged, and families. I loved it. I loved seeing everyone on their happiest days, all dressed up.
But I can remember looking at the photos after the fact and feeling a disconnect. I remember thinking, “These photos are great, and I love them, but it is a day. It doesn’t tell the true story of how these people were brought to this day.” So I started writing the stories of these couples while presenting their photos. We were finding that people were coming back to our website over and over and over again—come to find out, they were coming back for the stories. Sure, the pictures were pretty, but they wanted to know about these love stories and have a little snippet of someone’s beautiful tale.
And then I started feeling that same disconnect between my clients and myself. I got to know so much about these people, all their closest friends and family, and many of their stories, but they don’t get to know quite as much about me. And that is when I started writing and sharing pieces about myself on my website.
These two things are the perfect fit, because I am such a visual person and mood is such an important factor for me. When I am walking out on the trail behind our house, and everything is covered in fog as the sun is coming up, they are not separate: one will often trigger a memory of another. It will remind me of summer camp or something similar, and then I end up writing about that. Photography and writing really lend themselves well to a complete experience.
RTC: What inspires your photography?
A: Light. I love waking up in the morning and just watching the way the morning light pours through a window. Light changes everything—it’s so gorgeous. Honestly, I will sometimes have to sit and watch it as it moves across the room or comes up early in the morning, because it’s such a tiny, brief window of time when it bounces off everything in the perfect way.
RTC: Why did you choose the title Solace when writing your book?
A: When I was writing my book, it was just a word that I find comfort in. I believe self-soothing is such an important thing for us, but I realized that at this point in my life—with two young kids, a husband, a career, friends, colleagues, readers—it is very easy to constantly be tending to other people’s needs. I had to finally ask myself what I needed. And that was a completely life-changing question. What do I as a human being need? Not as a mother or as a wife or as a writer or a photographer: just me. I began to ask myself the questions that I always asked everybody else. And in finally asking myself that question I found that comfort, that solace.
RTC: Why did you choose to publish your book with Round Table Companies?
A: I chose to publish my book with RTC because the collaborative model enabled me to have the creative control and freedom that I longed for while still having a beautiful support system in place throughout the process. This experience has been the perfect balance for me, and I’ve loved it immensely.
RTC: What is the biggest lesson writing this book has taught you?
A: Trusting my own instincts and trying to write the book my way. I am really quite anxious and nervous about this book. I am nervous about what people are going to think, and I am nervous about putting that very authentic part of myself out there and possibly having people prefer who I was before. I think it is pretty human to have that fear, but that is the lesson that I have been going through—I am realizing that I have to be okay, regardless of what they feel. It is going to look a little bit different. But it feels more like me, the new book. It feels a lot more like me.