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Walking Off the Angst of Memoir Writing

As a memoirist, Liz Jannuzzi is committed to being vulnerable in her writing and has learned to navigate the emotional aftermath through purposeful walks.

By Elizabeth Jannuzzi

April 25, 2024

Every Tuesday morning, I publish a Substack, usually on the topic of my recovery from alcoholism, which is also the topic of my memoir, SOBER MOM. After I send the Substack to my subscribers, I share the link on my social media accounts. When that’s done, I put on my headphones, tie up my running shoes, and go outside for a walk. The walk is timed purposefully. Let me explain.

My writing in the Substack is often very vulnerable. I share what my active alcoholism looked and felt like and what my recovery entails. Sometimes, I throw in there a description of my depression or my grief over the loss of loved ones. A line from the Grateful Dead song “Althea” often pops into my head while writing, “Honest to the point of recklessness …”

Why am I being so revelatory in my posts? Three reasons:

1. By telling my story, I hope to help remove the stigma of alcoholism and mental illness.

2. If a reader out there is struggling with their disease, I hope they connect with my words and find hope.

And three is more selfish.

3. I hope an agent finds me. Or at least when I query agents for my memoir, I want to show them that I have an existing author platform on the subject of my memoir, which is what all the advice columns say to do. My memoir is about my recovery journey, so my Substack is about my recovery journey.

As a result of my weekly writing about sensitive topics, every Tuesday morning after I hit “send” on my Substack, I feel like I’ve peeled off my skin, stood naked on top of a mountain, and screamed, “I’m a drunk.”  

So, to take my mind off of all the emotions that crop up when you share something vulnerable, I go for a walk. On my walk, I pay attention to my surroundings and listen on repeat to whatever song I’m currently obsessed with. (Currently, it’s Cocaine Jesus by Rainbow Kitten Surprise.) Maybe I take a picture of a pretty daisy in a neighbor’s yard. What I don’t do is look at my Substack or social media accounts to see if anyone has commented or liked my latest post. 

By the time I get back to my house, I’ve come down off the mountain of vulnerability. At that point, I can check to see if there are any comments because my connection to the post feels less intense. The walk away from my desk provided both the physical and mental space to break from the emotional weight of being so vulnerable. 

After responding to the very small number of comments I do get, I’m ready to move on to the next part of my day, which is being the program manager here at book inc.

Until next Tuesday, when I do it all again!

Elizabeth Jannuzzi

Elizabeth Jannuzzi, book inc's program manager, is a mother and writer living in New Jersey. Her work has been featured in The Rumpus, The Brevity Blog, , and HerStry. She is currently working on a memoir about recovery.

Elizabeth Jannuzzi, book inc's program manager, is a mother and writer living in New Jersey. Her work has been featured in The Rumpus, The Brevity Blog, , and HerStry. She is currently working on a memoir about recovery.