Memoir

With Shadow where I ride at beautiful Course Brook Farm, Sherborn, MA 9/19.

Lisa is pitching Calamity Becomes Her to agents who represent memoir writers she admires and whose stories deeply resonate with her own life experiences (e.g. Pam Houston, Gretel Ehrlink, Cheryl Strayed, Glynnis MacNicol, Robyn Davidson).

Calamity is a memoir is full of joy, “a serious romp,” one of my colleagues called it. I have taken huge risks, at times with catastrophic consequences. The Lisa you will meet is brave, brazen and battle-scared from love—and three car accidents.

Born with an erratic heartbeat and later, my body broken from an accident on a snowy road in the car of a young man I adored, my mother forbade me to see him again, the driver of that car. I triumph, but not before I stumble. I’m an adrenaline junky. Again and again, I make poor choices—in jobs and in men, but I leap with such faith and humor, that I trust readers will root for me to succeed. I flunk out of an MBA program and flee to the American West, where my adventures demonstrate what happens to such a young woman as I was when I compete with ranch hands to see who’s most adept at handling a hay truck, race against a Corvette headlong into the Shoshone River and tutor the children of a Christian fundamentalist who invites me to join him at a strip club.

Mama and baby posing for me in paddocks near the Shoshone, a river that ran wide, cold and deep. I learned just how cold when I flipped my car into it and swam to its banks near Cody Central, about 30 miles north from this location.

By my late twenties, I realize that the risks I’ve taken haven’t paid off—the failures and disappointments in love and career—have everything to do with my bottled up grief for the young man my mother disappeared from my life. With that understanding dawning, I head back East to read his letters, long stashed in the bottom of a drawer, unopened. On the trek home, I buy a typewriter, hole up in a motel and begin to write, and I do not stop writing for two decades. Calamity, the first of two memoirs, is the fruit of that endeavor.

While Calamity has a plot-driven narrative, passages of reflection punctuate the story. On my journey West, I meet cowboys, wanna-be cowboys, barkeeps, evangelists, swindlers and friends. I interrogate the history of my parents, most especially my mother, who married my father after a series of deaths in her own family from which she never recovered.

Saying goodbye to a foal in Cody at the Grin-N-Barrett Ranch, September ’95. My knee got torn up by a hit-and-run driver in Cody Central just days prior. I’m styling a full leg immobilizer of my left leg here before grease, dirt and tomato sauce made it visible. Wonder where my crutches were.

I’ve been publishing essays for fourteen years on the writing life, sex and relationships, and my love for horses, dogs and cowboy country.. One appeared in the IPPY-award-winning anthology Unmasked: Women Write About Sex and Intimacy After Fifty, published in 2017. Calamity is my first full-length manuscript. I live near Boston, where I ride horses and commute by bike to my job writing and editing technology blogs for Dell Technologies. I am at work on the sequel to Calamity.

To see all of Lisa’s published work, click here.

Lisa can be reached at lisa dot demasi at gmail dot com.

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