I had the good fortune of being introduced to Megan McMorris through Michelle Goodman author of Anti-9-to-5 Guide and My So-Called Freelance Life (you can catch my podcast interview with Michelle Goodman here). Megan is a freelance writer and most recently the editor of an anthology called P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends. I personally have had moments where I wish I could have said certain things to friends but never have. In my life, however, I seem to have experienced more of the “sent letter/said things” and then wondered why they were never received fully. Well, at least the response or lack thereof gave me that conclusion whether accurate or not.
That said I know how incredibly important and impact full it is to bring relationships to full completion and not leaving words unspoken. We never know what life holds for any of us and I do my best to live from a place of no regrets. I had the opportunity to have a virtual sit-down with Megan recently to have her share a bit more about her work and the book. I hope you enjoy this interview!
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, and I mainly write fitness and health stories for magazines (you know those articles that say Top Ten Ways to Tone Your Abs? That’s often me! I get to play “fun with alliteration” by saying things like “chisel your cheeks” and “get great glutes”!). I’ve also edited two other anthologies, Woman’s Best Friend: Women Writers on the Dogs in Their Lives, and Cat Women: Female Writers on Our Feline Friends, both also published by Seal Press.
2) What inspired you to spearhead the compilation “PS What I Didn’t Say”?
Well, it actually came out of a conversation I was having with my boyfriend about a friendship meltdown. In the middle of my entire analysis of each and every exchange this friend and I had (“and then she said…and then I said…”) he was staring at me blankly and was just like “I don’t get it, why are you friends with her then?” And it made me realize how much we put up with, but on the flip side, how much we get from our female friends. I liked the letter aspect because it’s a little juicier, the reader can feel like she’s almost reading someone’s journal rather than being talked to directly (and who doesn’t like that?).
3) From your experience working with all these writers – what are some of the common themes/obstacles that keep women from sharing what they most yearn to communicate?
I think we definitely build things up a lot more and let things fester, because we don’t want to offend. It’s funny, I’m actually in the middle of just that problem with a long-time pal, and it’s my fault–I didn’t tell her what I was really feeling about a situation until it built up so much that I totally shocked her last week by unloading on her when she came to me with a problem, which isn’t fair. If instead I had just told her all along how I’d been feeling about this situation she’s in, we could have had a meaningful conversation about it and all would have been fine. Likewise, a friend of mine just yesterday asked me for advice on the exact same thing, where a friend of hers exploded on her out of the blue and there seems to be more going on under the surface. It’s made me conscious of trying to voice problems when they first occur rather than waiting for it to build up.
4) How did you find all your contributors? Did you find them? They find you?
I found a lot of the contributors myself from writer-friends or writer-friends-of-friends. And since I’d already compiled the first two anthologies, I did reach out to previous contributors. That said, unlike my previous two books which were more specific (dogs and cats) and therefore eliminated some writers who didn’t have either, this topic was more broad so in general I did let writers find me too, and I put out a “call for submissions” on various freelance-writing boards. Of course, after I put the book together I was kicking myself because there were still some writers with whom I’d have loved to work but they didn’t hear about my project until it was too late. Perhaps a sequel? 🙂
5) What was your biggest insight or learning from doing this project?
My biggest insight was that I’m certainly not alone! From straight-out BFF tributes to frenemies to childhood friends who snubbed you, we can all relate to each other’s stories. In fact, my favorite part of these projects is when the contributors then read each other’s stories and relate to each other. I’ve had friendships form whereby a contributor will ask “may I have so-and-so’s email address?” because they can relate to a particular story, and that’s so cool to me! It was definitely a community feel putting this book together, and I’m proud to say I love each and every one of the writers in this, we all worked together very well and encouraged each other (and during the editing process, I bonded with a lot of them with “hey, this happened to me too!” notes back and forth, so it was therapeutic to say the least!).
6) What do you think would be possible or different if we took the time to truly tell our stories especially to those that matter most to us?
Besides what I already mentioned about voicing a problem when it first occurs, I also really feel strongly about always giving a compliment when it’s on your mind. I actually often make a point to do this to female strangers–if I admire a woman’s hair or coat or shoes, and we’re standing in line at the grocery store, even if I’m in a bad mood or don’t feel like talking I force myself to make this notation out loud. It never fails to brighten up their day and in turn brighten up mine. And I’m hardly a Pollyana type overall, but this is just a personal mission of mine. What I am more recently trying to do is also give those who are close to me the same compliments in a more general sense. For example, this week while I was emailing with a mutual friend about this friendship blowout, my friend was enlightening me to some different sides of the story I may not have seen. She was so thoughtful about it and took such time to explain all the nuances that I really was blown away, and this is someone I’ve known since I was five, and it just made me feel so thankful to have her as my longtime pal. I then commented on how lucky I was to have her in my life because she cares so much about her friendships, and I told her how wonderful she is (okay, pass the Kleenex, ha!). But I do think having put this book together has made me try and be more open that way. Obviously, it’s a work in progress and I’m not perfect but I’m at least making some efforts!
7) How can folks find out more about you, the book, and the other great work you’re up to?
Thanks for asking! My website is www.meganmcmorris.com, which lists my other books and work, and the book website is www.psanthology.wordpress.com, where you can find excerpts of all the letters. Thank you so much!