Deep into her 40s with a lackluster career, Georgie wonders how she became so…underwhelming.
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Author Guest Post
Making Friends With My Inner Critic
I’ve always wanted to write a novel. During college, as I churned my way through literature essay after literature essay en route to an English degree, I kept thinking someday I want to write a novel. But the story didn’t come.
As I entered the communications profession, and earned a living writing press releases, blogs, and annual reports, the whisper was there. Someday I want to write a novel. But the story didn’t come.
The story finally came when I least expected it. It came when I was at my lowest point professionally and personally. I was unemployed and unhealthy, but suddenly the story was there.
When it came to sitting down and writing it, I was definitely more of a plotter rather than a pantser. I knew the story I wanted to tell. I knew the major twists and turns in advance, and when they would happen. That said, there were still elements of the book that surprised me. As I was writing from the perspective of the title character, Georgie, her inner monologue kept creeping in, creating a character in her own right.
And wow, was she mean.
Grouchy Gilda – Gilda for short – is my title character’s snarky inner voice. When the story begins, Georgie and Gilda are constantly bickering. Gilda puts her down, and Georgie weakly defends herself. The back-and-forth between Georgie and Gilda felt so natural that it took me a while to figure out why.
Georgie was me, so Gilda was me, too.
The realization was jarring. That’s how I talk to myself? I wouldn’t put up with a friend or partner who spoke to me that way, and yet here I was doing it to myself.
As my novel progressed, and Georgie started to practice more self-care, the voice of Gilda became softer and more supportive. I decided to take a cue from my own creation and start practicing what I wrote. As Georgie grew, I grew with her. The closer I came to achieving my bucket list goal of writing a novel, the more my own Gilda evolved from a bully to an ally.
Most novelists, I’m sure, have a soft spot for their first book because it’s their first. For me, Summer of Georgie will be special for another reason: it reconciled me with myself.
About the Book
Summer of Georgie
by Kerry Crisley
Published 3 December 2021
Lazy Sunday Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Page Count: 277
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Deep into her 40s with a lackluster career, Georgie wonders how she became so…underwhelming. If she’s not battling her micromanaging boss and egotistical CEO, she’s trying to quiet her inner voice, the one whispering that she hasn’t lived up to the cool, funny and creative person she used to be.
When she’s fired for finally pushing back on her CEO’s questionable business practices, Georgie – with the support of her husband and book club friends– uses her free summer to rekindle latent talents and redefine success. But just as she figures out what’s next, an unexpected hurdle threatens to turn her summer of opportunity into a zero-sum disaster.
Summer of Georgie is a fresh and likably snarky take on the “middle age do-over,” with an authentic portrayal of friendship, marriage, motherhood, and that inner critic inside us all.
I’m not ready to go home, so I enter a deli a few doors down from the employment firm. The line is a busy bustle of professionals on their limited lunch break. I remember that bustle. Already it seems like a long time ago. I feel like a poser in my (too tight) skirt, blouse and heels. Any moment now, I expect a pharmaceutical rep in a well-tailored suit to point at me across the crowded restaurant and shriek, like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
I bring my turkey wrap and iced tea to a small table in the corner and sit. For the first minute I take a few more deep, purposeful breaths until my heart rate begins to slow down. I’m at a loss to identify what I’m feeling right now, and why I bolted from Bertie.
That was your one free pass at career building, Gilda reminds me. If you want to go back, you’ll have to pay for it.
“I don’t want to go back,” I mutter into my tall paper cup.
As I eat my lunch, I am determined to do something; to take at least one small action that will shake me out of this paralysis. Pulling out my phone, I create a GMail account that, I decide, will be for my job hunting, career-inspiring, future-envisioning correspondence. My uncool personal life will continue to function under my uncool Hotmail account.
GMail. Check. That was easy. I feel better already. More hip and employable. Energized, I forge on and call up my LinkedIn profile. The one I’ve been ignoring for the last 18 months.
Whoa, that profile pic. Gilda gasps. Was that pre-Max?
My lips twist to the side, a lá McKayla Maroney-is-not-impressed. The photo is embarrassingly outdated, but I’m hard-pressed to find something suitable.
It’s not that I’m camera shy. Far from it. Despite being self conscious about the extra pounds I’ve been carrying around for the last year and a half, I insist on maintaining a well-documented visual history. It’s just that none of my photos are quite right for this particular social media channel.
All my hiking, biking and skiing pictures are out. I’m alone in some of them, and look like quite the cool outdoor girl if I’m honest. But no one wants to hire a show off. And really, a LinkedIn profile of me with my sunglasses and fluorescent yellow warm up jacket with a gorgeous blue sky and mountain range around me? Total. Show. Off.
Needing help, I open up my messaging app and text Nora, my old college room mate and current savvy advertising executive.
Hey, I begin. I need a new LinkedIn pic. I’m going to send you one in a sec. WDYT?
I choose one from last Christmas. It’s the annual cousins-around-Santa (my Uncle Bob) photo, and I was having a particularly good hair day. I use my photo edit function to crop everyone else out, save for my cousin Susan’s arm around my shoulders, and send it to Nora.
She responds within seconds. It’s clearly a group shot. I see an arm.
So? I counter.
This is what people will think: “I don’t have a picture with just me, so I cropped one. I guess I just don’t like to be alone. Ever. Can I pop into your office two or three times a day, every day, just to chat?”
Really? I text back. People are mean. This one? I send one of me taken by Max while sitting at my breakfast bar. I’m alone in it, which is progress. I’m in a medium gray sweater with a moderate cowl neck. A little casual maybe, but not too bad.
Again, her response is quick.
It says to us: “I may be just hanging out in a kitchen having coffee, but the gentle tilt of my head lets you know I’m approachable and a good listener. Talk to me. How can I advance your organizational goals?”
Us? I respond, wary.
Yes! I’m in a meeting. That last one was from the senior copywriter. Send us more; this is fun!
I send a middle finger emoji in reply and close the app. I should have at least taken advantage of Picture Day before fleeing. Joe: 1, Georgie: 0.
About the Author
Kerry Crisley is a communications professional, with a focus on the nonprofit sector. Fiction, however, is her first love; she wrote and directed an original play performed by her second grade classmates, and has been writing ever since. She lives in Wakefield, Massachusetts with her husband, their children, and their (very spoiled) rescue dog. When not at work, Kerry can usually be found reading, hiking, or getting into a wide variety of shenanigans with her book club. Anything to avoid housework.
Kerry is a current member of the Women’s Fiction Writing Association, and also muses about life as a writer, autism mom, dance mom, and rescue dog mom on lazysundaybooks.com. Summer of Georgie is her first novel.
Kerry Crisley will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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