Category Archives: book

My Heart It Screams: The Book Writing Process

Today marks the second blog I have written in months.  In many ways it feels much, much longer than that.  Yet, I have thought about writing this particular blog post many times throughout the book writing process when I had the chance or took the time to stop and really think.  Think of this post as reflection, as my processing through, or whatever you really want to call it.  These thoughts/conclusions/ideas are in no particular order and I apologize in advance for the length.  Like Rhonda, I can be a bit “wordy”.

Nightmare Schedule

As I sit on my couch on a lazy Saturday morning, part of me wonders what is on my list of things to do.  I always have one.  Today’s list consists of what to clean since I’m still way behind on that as well as what I should be doing to get ready to go on tour.  That said, there is no pressure to get any or all of it done, which feels weird.  Before this week, my schedule from March on was a complete nightmare.  Teaching is hard enough.  It exhausts me to put on a show for 5 hours a day only to have lesson planning and grading that never ends.  Then, I would come home to write (and to grade or lesson plan).  I literally worked all day, everyday.  Yes, I took some breaks to be social, to sleep, but not much.  I’m not going to lie.  There were many days that I sat on my chair in my office, literally in tears over how exhausted I felt.  Yet, I knew that I had to keep going.  I pushed and pushed even when my brain and body wanted to shut down.  That said, for the next book, I hope we give ourselves more breathing room.

Pride

Believe it or not, this type of schedule wasn’t totally new for me.  I experienced a similar amount of work when I was campaigning on top of teaching.  Yet, this type of work was, in many ways, more challenging for me.  It was often done in solitude with the exception of text messages from that writing partner of mine.  As someone who works in a VERY social setting, it was hard for me to keep working when it was quiet and I was by myself.  At school, it is never quiet and I’m lucky if I get 25 minutes of solo work time a day.  When I’m in front of the kids, I have to pump myself up or they eat me alive.  I had none of that with writing.

That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the writing process (I’ll get to that)–just that it was challenging for me in many ways, too.  That said, like campaigning and teaching, at the end of the process, when we sent the manuscript off, I felt such a surge of pride.  Pride that we saw it through.  Pride that we saw it through TOGETHER and pride at the quality.  The one area of my life that I have always felt competent in is through work.  This book reinforced that, no matter what happens from here.  I may not be the most successfully social person but I know that I can work hard and can accomplish great things when I put my energy there.

Creative Process/Openness

As Rhonda has mentioned, I believe, the version of the book we just sent to the publisher is vastly different than the first one.  I would describe the first one as safe.  It required a lot of research, organizing, outlining, etc.  We could hold the topic of fandom at arm’s length, not sharing much about ourselves or our personal fandom.  For me, personally, this is a realm that I feel comfortable in. I liked doing research in college and grad school.  My social science background got some use.  Then, of course, we decided to go at the topic from a different angle, a more personal one.  In fact, we started a second way then changed to a third way.  For the first time in my life, I found myself second guessing my work.  Again, I question myself socially all the time but I don’t at work.  I’m confident in my choices, my decisions–no matter if those decisions happen in my classroom or on the campaign trail.  Yet, now, I wondered.  I questioned and pondered up until a few days before we sent it.  Did we do this the right way?  Are we sharing too much?  More importantly, did I share too much?  That is never easy for me.

As some of you may know, my mother is an artist.  She creates these amazing fiber art pieces, often combining fabric with other materials.  A part of me always wished to be her and to be that creative.  I always joke, though, that I can’t be because my father is more scientific, more analytical, more anal.  He has a math/science brain.  This combination produced three kids who all went into social sciences, which allowed for the analysis that my father is comfortable with but isn’t as black or white as a hard science.  I never felt like I could live like an artist with the struggle of baring one’s soul.  While our book is still non-fiction and still has academic elements to it, it is also creative in how we approached fandom.  It also required me letting go more than I usually do and to be more open than I am normally, like most art does.

I do believe that the process was good for me.  I pushed myself in ways that needed to be pushed.

Friendship

Whenever Rhonda and I work on a project, I’m always amazed at how well we work together, whether that is this blog, our book, or fan events.  Our commitment to our friendship and to our work keeps us going, keeps us focused on the goal.  At times, it isn’t always easy.  We both have strong feelings about what is needed and sometimes those ideas clash.  During this process, there were times that I needed her to step in with a part I was working on and times that she needed me to.  We were in constant communication during the past few months–often not even bothering with greetings but moving right to “business”.  As we often say, we did what must be done and still live to call each other friends at the end of the day.    That said, I’m really looking forward to spending time together as friends, not writing partners but as two people who like each other.  We deserve to have FUN and I’m ready to laugh my way through most of July!!

Gratitude

Beyond being and feeling incredibly thankful for having a great writing partner who kept me on track, pushed me to be the best writer I could be, I am also thankful for a few people who personally helped with this little project of ours.  (I know this is what an acknowledgement page is for–I don’t want to wait!)

First, I have to thank our friend, Heather, who read every single word, providing feedback on content as well as line-by-line refinement.  We couldn’t have done it without her.  I am especially grateful to her.  Let me share a little story.  Early on in the rewrite process, I finished a chapter on the 1980s.  I had spent a lot of time on it, brought in some great references, put Duran Duran fandom in context.  I felt confident until Heather read it.  Her feedback implied that parts of it were…boring.  Oh shit.  I don’t and can’t have that!  I knew that something needed to be changed but I couldn’t figure it out.  Fast forward a couple of weeks.  I woke up in the morning, needing to get ready for work when an idea struck me, one that wouldn’t let go.  I suddenly realized what Heather’s point really meant and knew that we should again shift how we were writing this book.  By ten am, I was texting Rhonda begging for a conference call causing us to start all over again, requiring us to throw out some of the new chapters we had written.  (I’m sure that Rhonda wanted to kill me that day and days after!  Thank goodness, we live far away from each other!)  I have to believe that Heather’s feedback festered in my brain until I knew what needed to be done.  I thank her for that (assuming that the third version is the best one!).

Second, I also have to thank my brother for feedback on some chapters, too.  It wasn’t easy for me to ask him since he is much older than me and I never felt equal to him.  (He points out his Ph.D. a little bit more than I would like, sometimes!)  That said, his feedback gave me confidence that we were on the right track.

Lastly, I have to thank my parents.  Their unwavering support and confidence in my abilities helped the most when I was struggling with a part or a chapter.  I know that a lot of people think they have the best parents but I know that I really do.

Now, we wait for feedback from the publisher and focus on having some fun.  I hear some Duran shows are in our near future!

-A

The Pressure is Off

I have dearly missed blogging each day.

It isn’t sharing too much to say that much of the writing I did over the course of the past two and a half months was similar to blogging.  I sat down each day, pouring out words for whatever topic I was working on at the time (we called it a word vomit), and refine from there.  It is the same process for blogging. Even so, there is something very special and unique about sharing thoughts here, and I’ve missed it.

We finished the manuscript for our book and sent it last night, crossing our fingers.  There are no guarantees, though. We don’t know that we wrote something compelling enough for the publisher to agree to work with us. We do know, however, that we did our very best.  We worked hard, and both of us are much better writers now than when we started.    What was supposed to be a simple “rework” (HA HA HA) ended up being a completely brand new book from start to finish. Amanda tells me it ended up being 113,408 words including the glossary and bibliography. (If my college professors could see me now….)

When we sat down with a calendar to figure out how long it might take to create a solid draft, June 15th seemed reasonable.  What I didn’t even consider was that on this same date 35 years ago, this roller coaster slowly left the station for the first time.

If you’re not grasping the reference, that’s OK.  I’ve been writing about journeys and traveling so much lately that I’ve really started ONLY thinking and writing in terms of transportation analogies.  Our manuscript deadline shares the date with the release of Duran Duran’s first album 35 years ago.  I suppose to at least Amanda and I, it is kind of poetic (and we are sure hoping there’s some karma happening somewhere) that we turned in our manuscript on the same date. (It was after midnight in the UK when we sent it!)

Not only that, but the release of “Pressure Off” also shares this date!  (editorial comment: I wanted to check the date to be sure, and Wikipedia has the release date for the single being the same week as Paper Gods. Duranduran.wikia has the date being June 15. We have the same date listed, so I’m going with what the fans know!)

If THAT isn’t poetic….nothing is.

So, while I begin the attempt to get my house back into running order, I’m gonna play some “Pressure Off” followed by “Friends of Mine”.  Seems like the kind of day for it.

-R

 

Spring Break 2016!

Hi everyone,

At this moment, I should have my headphones on, writing as quickly as my little fingers can type… but I wanted to take a moment out just to write a little update for those who do not currently follow us on Facebook or Twitter. (and really, why don’t you?!?)

For the past “I-refuse-to-even-consider-how-long-it-has-been” several years, Amanda and I have worked diligently on a manuscript that we hoped to have published.  Call it Durantime if you choose, but these things take a while! The work was wildly academic with just enough color to make it interesting for others. We finished a solid draft, sent proposals to publishers and hoped for the best.

With some interest, we find ourselves with the unique opportunity to completely redirect the manuscript. We have a limited timeframe to give to such a task, and so we’ve made the difficult decision to re-establish our priorities. While we love blogging and Daily Duranie will continue with earnest very soon, we are taking at least a few weeks off to really work hard on the new version of the manuscript, hoping it will pay off in the end.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be activity here on the blog, but the lengthy writings that readers are used to will likely be a little different for the time being. And…as the band tours, readers will be happy to know we’ll cover the shows as best as we can, whether that is within our weekly “Vodka Friday” series – those will continue because even Amanda and I need breaks from reality every now and then (check them out on our YouTube channel!!), or here on the blog when we have time.

We realize the timing is pretty, well….challenging….for this to happen now, given the North America tour beginning just this week. But, we also believe that this is happening now for a reason. While we love Daily Duranie, this is part of our dream potentially coming true and one of the major reasons we took this journey to begin with.  Hopefully at some date in the future, we’ll be able to celebrate and share what we’ve been working on.

Until then, check in with us on Facebook, send us a tweet on Twitter every now and then. We’re always happy to hear from friends and readers, and we’ll definitely write when we can!

-A & R

Nostalgia proves Notorious

During the past several days, I have needed to completely switch gears as Amanda and I begin the process of a brand new (book) project.

While we continue to work on the fandom book – it has not been forgotten – we’ve decided to also work on another project that will require some study of the band itself, as opposed to fieldwork within the fan community.

For me, this has been welcome respite. I still very much enjoy studying fandom, in fact I just finished a book of academic essays on various aspects of music fandom. (Which is rather unusual as subject matter. Most books on fandom these days are written about television shows or on aspects of fandom such as fan fiction.) I still stand fascinated by what it means to really BE a fan. But, I’ll admit that the idea of getting back to basics with Duran Duran was very enticing!

So, the weekend and the past couple of days has consisted of pouring over videos, and some of the older books I own. As I read, I realized that in many cases it had been decades since I last opened some of these. Take The Book of Words, for instance. I don’t think I’ve actually opened that book to read since we moved into this house – and that was in January of 1998. I took time to read it this weekend, noting just how much has changed, and how much has really stayed the same overall. Then I watched The Wild Boys, a documentary on the band.

I’m not sure if I’ve just never seen that, or if I completely missed things I picked up on this time – like my friend Amy being onscreen for much of it! (That seems to happen quite a bit as I go back looking through various documentaries and interviews – I know a lot of Duranies who have been interviewed over the years!) But then I picked up on someone else I hadn’t ever really noticed – Paul Morely, Duran Duran’s harshest critic. (Aside from maybe Amanda and I, of course. Right???) Granted, I’ve picked up on the occasional comment from a band member or two about some particularly vicious critics out there, but I guess I never bothered to figure out who they meant. And, given that I live in the US….and grew up on a steady diet of teen mags such as Tiger Beat….I only knew of “the critics” in the most enigmatic, vaguest, sense. But that night, Paul Morely stood out to me, particularly as he commented that even though The Wedding Album proved the band’s staying power, he just couldn’t give them any credit.  Well then. Biased much?? Live and learn.

(if anyone out there happens to have the 1982 interview that Paul Morely did with Duran Duran for NME…I would like to talk with you. Email me!!)

Today I poured over Duran Duran: Unseen… as I tried to reacquaint myself with the era of Duran Duran that immediately preceded my becoming a fan. The book is a collection of photographs and memories taken and gathered by Paul Edmond, who tragically died  in a car accident while in Morocco recently. If you don’t have it, you should get yourself a copy because Paul really shares insight from a time back before many, if not most of us, ever became fans.

Next up for me is likely Sing Blue Silver (oh drat, I have to watch that again…it is so hard….)…and some more online searching for old magazine articles, particularly ones from critics. I’ve been enjoying the trip down memory lane to prepare me for writing this book from the point of view of a passionate fan and blogger, as opposed to that of a social scientist.

So if you’re wondering why the blogs have been later than usual this week…that’d be the reason, and given the pace Amanda and I want to be taking with this book, you may or may not notice a lull in timely blogs for the next few weeks. Rest assured, we’re just working, we haven’t escaped our real lives in favor of touring!

Not yet, anyway.  July is coming!

-R

Durantime is Contagious! Daily Duranie Book News

It’s been a long time since I mentioned any sort of book news, hasn’t it?

Well, I’m happy to say that we haven’t thrown the manuscript into a fire, nor have we used it to line litter boxes or birdcages. (that’s a joke!)  Believe it or not, it still exists, and we’ve even spent time retooling some of it along the way.  We’ve also learned that Durantime is CONTAGIOUS. (I should have known. Damn that band.)

There are no real excuses here, other than not enough time. Amanda works full-time (and then some), I live 2,500 miles from her. In order to really work on the manuscript at this point, we have to either be together or do marathon Skype calls, both of which we’ve done in order to finish the writing and some massive editing. Then it came down to researching publishers (there are not nearly as many non-fiction publishers as fiction), and putting together book proposals. (One of our biggest challenges with the process is that each publisher has their own list of what must be included in a book proposal, and no two are alike, of course.) Each publisher also handles their own types of books, topics, and lengths, so an author cannot simply just send out 100 proposals to 100 publishers. If only, right? Needless to say, the process has dragged out a bit long for us, but in hindsight – as someone very wise said to me rather recently – “you’ll know when its ready and is the right time.”

It’s ready. I’ve never been more sure of that. By the time it’s published, it will be the right time. Durantime!

There is something very satisfying in hearing Amanda say “Ok, it’s done!” after seeing her click “send” on our query emails and attachments. In a lot of ways it feels like we’ve already met our goal because we’re sending these proposals out. Finally!! (Amanda would not agree with me on that, but I’m thrilled just the same.) On the same token, I’m hopeful that we find a publisher willing to take a chance on us.

I believe the process might be easier if I had more letters by my name. I do not have a master’s degree or higher, which for the type of book we wrote, might have been helpful. It’s not your fandom-tell-all, and it’s absolutely not a love note to the band, either. We tried to make the book personable and funny (because if you’ve ever been with Amanda and I on a touring road trip…well…that’s funny!), but also as a sort of ethnography about fandom as a culture.  Publishers seem to like those extra letters when you’re trying to sound smart, I guess!  At the very heart of who I am though, music and fandom is my true passion. I care more about music and fandom as a type of culture than anything I’ve ever studied or spent time learning or researching, and it just so happens that Duran Duran is at the core of those things for me. I would rather talk about music or art than anything else. I’m thankful I have friends online that indulge me from time to time!

Amanda’s education, however, lies in women’s studies and exceptional education, and she does have her masters. Believe it or not, those degrees (or lack thereof in my case) make a difference to a publisher. One doesn’t send in their entire manuscript with a proposal, so decisions are based upon a couple of sample chapters, an annotated table of contents (think outline), resumes (goodness I haven’t earned a real salary since I was 26 and I’m now 45!) along with a survey of the proposed market, it’s conditions, and whatever else the publisher wants.

On one hand, I’m excited. I want people to see the finished product. I don’t think I’ve ever put my heart and soul into anything like this project. I suppose that for me, even if it were to never find a publisher, I know it is my best work and I’m proud – but make no mistake, I want it published and I’m not stopping until it is. We owe ourselves and the manuscript at least that much. On the other hand, I’m also scared to death. I only have a tiny sense of what it is like to produce work that is consumed by someone other than myself (because of this blog), and once it’s out there – it no longer belongs to you, which is quite frankly a bizarre sort of feeling. But, I’m not at that point yet, and there are no guarantees. I’m just glad we’ve finally gotten the more tedious parts of the proposal writing process over so that we can send them out.

Once the book has been accepted by a publisher, I am going to write a cleansing blog post about how cathartic the entire project has been for me personally. Every single day I changed as a woman, a person, and a fan. I’m still seeing those changes in the way I react to situations, people I’ve met both online and in person, and things the band has done. I wouldn’t trade a day of any of it, and I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to write with Amanda…even if I will sometimes argue to the death over a single word in a sentence. (sorry Amanda)

Believe it or not, we are also going to start working on sending proposals to publishers (this time, we’re actually doing this the right way and sending proposals FIRST) for another book! Also about Duran Duran, but in a different vein. Can’t say more than that right now because we’re only just beginning that process, but I’m excited about starting and having to do hours and hours of research in the form of watching videos, listening to music, reading books and magazines and going to concerts!

So, that’s the snapshot “where we are today” of book news. I know it’s been a long, LONG, progress. I hear that there’s talk of beginning a Daily Daily Duranie blog where discussion of why the fandom book is taking so damn long can happen!  I would just like to say as our defense that Amanda and I learned from the experts – the band (!!) – on how Durantime works. We blame Nick, John, Simon and Roger because apparently Durantime is contagious. Who knew?!?

-R

 

Today in Duran History – Duran Unseen

On this day in 2005, Duran Duran Unseen was published. (it was also re-edited for a later edition in 2008) This is a book by Kaspar de Graaf and Malcolm Garrett and features a very rare and extensive set of photographs by Paul Edmond. The photos were taken during the period of 1979 to 1982, at the very beginning of the band’s career.  The photos really show the transformation of the band as they went from being the resident band of the Rum Runner through to just before Rio took the rest of the world by storm.  The book features a period in time when the band was learning their own identity and what they wished to project, which makes it an incredible piece of history for fans to have and hold.

Duran Duran Unseen

-R

 

Today in Duran History – In the Pleasure Groove

On today’s date in 2012, John Taylor released his autobiography.  Maybe you’ve heard of it???  😀

That’s right – just two years ago In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran  was released. We were giddy with the excitement, sharing pictures and stories from the many book talks and signings with John…and some of us may have actually read the book. (4 times including the two times I listened to the entire thing in the car…but who is really counting?!?)

For the record: I still believe it’s a must-read for all Duran fans.  I wonder if the rest of them will ever write one……

-R

Guest Blog: The Notorious Mr. Nile Rodgers

By PamG

As most of us in Duranland know, the band has recently worked with the legendary Nile Rodgers for the new album. This news really made me happy. I mean, really, really happy. Not only does it signal forward progress on the new album, but I’m also hoping it means he’s bringing back some funk on the long-awaited album. And since reading his memoir Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny, I am even more interested in what happens next.

As a child of the ‘80s, I had mostly known Nile as that guy who did the awesome remix for The Reflex and performed with Madonna during Live Aid. Oh, and he had something to do with David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album too, since his name kept coming up during whenever Bowie was nominated for Grammy or VMA awards for it. Over the years, I came to realize that he played a very large role in the music that shaped my adolescence.

When I learned that he had penned his memoir, I knew I had to read it. I didn’t know much about the man, but I assumed he’d have a lot of tales of the 1980s music scene, and of course I was hoping for some new salacious tales about Duran. So if nothing else it might be a good source of gossip and backroom Studio 54 stories.

Little did I know how moved I would be by his life story. For this white girl who grew up in the suburbs, his background was nearly 180 degrees away from my middle-class experience. That wasn’t too surprising. And frankly those are the kinds of memoirs I enjoy reading. Sure, I expected there to be tales of drug use and abuse; that was a pretty safe bet with anyone who was in that music scene. And there was a rags-to-riches story too. But what hit me was how much Nile had survived before the tender age of ten: he was born to a teenage mother, witnessed rampant drug use in and around his home which was constantly on the move, and was sent to live in a convalescent home for his severe asthma. And this was only Chapter 2. This man was a survivor.

Don’t get me wrong: his brutally honest narrative is not a drab, sad tale. Even as he tells the tales of the ups and downs of his life so far, he does it with some humor too. And from the many interviews I’ve watched in recent years, it just seems that it’s part of his survival tactic. Mr. Rodgers’ memoir was published in 2011, not long after he was diagnosed with cancer. He addresses the diagnosis in his epilogue, but continues to publicly share his story on his blog “Walking on Planet C” (http://www.nilerodgers.com/blogs) and his Twitter account (https://twitter.com/nilerodgers). He recently shared that he is now cancer-free, and I wish him good health for many years to come.

Photo: Nile Rodgers Facebook page August 23, 2014
Photo: Nile Rodgers Facebook page August 23, 2014

Are there spicy tales about Duran in Le Freak? Yup. He speaks to some of his collaborations with them, both in and out of the studio. As expected, Nile also shares stories of other collaborations from the 1970s and 1980s, including Madonna, David Bowie, Donna Summer, Mick Jagger, and Michael Jackson, just to name a few. For a kid like me who grew up on MTV, this book is rich with tabloid-like tales that are like bedtime stories to me.

But in addition to the behind-the-scenes tales, I found myself drawn into the story of his musical collaboration and inspiring friendship with Bernard Edwards. When describing the first time they played together, Nile describes a musical telepathic connection. They follow their musical passions and form the band Chic. It didn’t take long for the disco world to become their oyster. But it’s Nile’s tale of their friendship—including when they drifted apart—that impacted me most. Reading the passage about their last moments together was both chilling and tear-jerking.

What will come of his collaboration with Duran on this next album? Time will only tell. But no matter what, I will be forever grateful for his remix of The Reflex. That record changed my life. Not only is it one of my favorite Duran songs, it was the first 12” record that I ever bought, and it opened my musical ears to the world of remixes. In the latter half of the 1980s I spent countless hours in record stores (remember those?). I still have vivid memories of heading straight to the “E” section of the store, backing up one row to the end of the “Ds”, and then filing through the Duran section for any 12” records that I hadn’t found before. Of all the vinyl I used to own, the Duran 12” singles are among the very small collection I have retained. It is rumored that The Reflex wasn’t even considered as a single off of Seven and The Ragged Tiger until Nile’s remix happened. On behalf of many Duranies, thank you Mr. Rodgers!

Photo: Duran Duran Facebook Page August 21, 2014
Photo: Duran Duran Facebook Page August 21, 2014

I recommend Nile Rodgers’ memoir for anyone who is interested in a story of how music can change the trajectory of a person’s life. Or if you want to read one man’s story of survival. Or even if you just want the behind-the-scenes stories of some of your favorite ‘80s darlings. And of course, it’s also for anyone (like me) who is still hungry for more Duran while we wait for #DD14.

 

PamGPamG has been a Duranie since the early days of MTV. In addition to all-things Duran, she also enjoys music documentaries, pop culture trivia, and live concerts of any kind. Her Duran dream would be to journey across the pond and see the band play throughout Europe. After waiting over 25 years to see Duran Duran live, she saw her first show in 2011 and it changed her life.

Today in Duran History – Talking to Girls about Duran Duran

On today’s date in 2010, Talking to Girls about Duran Duran – a book written by Rob Sheffield was published.  Have you read it?  We featured a set of blog posts on the book as well.  Check them out!

Is It Really Like That?

Unattainable Pubescent Dreams

Who is the Paul Around Here?

I Must Take Issue

The book itself is interesting, although the book not directly about Duran Duran as one might think.  Sheffield takes the time to express his feelings about the band in his introduction, but the band does not take center stage throughout the book as much as it’s about using music as a sort of common ground for getting through those tough teen years. Sheffield includes many an anecdote from his personal life to tell this autobiographical tale. It’s worth reading if you’re like me and looking for some books to enjoy over the summer!

-R

The Glitter Plan – The Daily Duranie Book Review

Once in a while I do something so completely out of character that it even surprises me.

This time, I read a book.

To be sure, my reading something wasn’t very shocking.  I wish I had even more time to read…and I will truly grab anything from political-based non-fiction (I just like reading things from a variety of points of view) to women’s fiction and romance.  (And if it has the name “Karen Booth” on the cover I’m sold. Immediately.)  However, this time, I actually read a book that at least in part, was centered on fashion.  I can tell you the last time that happened.  Never.

Anyone who knows me is well-aware that I am no fashion diva.  I live in denim and t-shirts (along with sneakers or flip-flops).  I make no apologies for that – it is who I am, and while I might not be the most edgiest dresser in the world, I’m comfortable, and that matters!  I love art, I adore music, love books…but fashion just isn’t something I’ve ever cared much about.  Don’t ask how I’ve stayed a fan of this band for so long…I think I’m more interested in the way they use their artwork and media to convey a message than I am about their clothes (which I realize is part of the story…so I’m not a complete loss), but don’t tell them that, OK?  It’s our secret!!

So, back to that book.  Believe it or not, I read The Glitter Plan, by Pam Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor. Truthfully, I heard about the book from one of John’s tweets (so social-marketing really does work, by the way…), but to be completely honest, I probably would have read the book had I found it on my own (and I would have – I am an avid Amazon shopper!), and here’s why: these are two women – best friends besides – who started a huge, successful company on just $200.  I wanted to read their story.  They took their passion and did something with it, and that seems to be a common theme here on the blog this week!

I had very little idea of what to expect when I started the book, aside from perhaps a few preconceived notions on my part. The truth is that many many years ago, there was an article in my local paper (OC Register) about Juicy. The interviewer spent an afternoon with Pam and Gela, and he made them sound as though they were the type of women who were brainless, spending their afternoons mindlessly shopping and speaking in baby-talk, trying to be cute. I remember reading  in this same article that Gela specifically said that they’d never make their clothes larger than a size 8 because you can’t be glamorous if you’re bigger than that.  I’m not going to argue whether or not that is factual at this point (either the quote from my paper or her feelings in general about size, because I don’t know the truth and it really doesn’t matter for this blog), but I’m a size 10 and have been since I was a teenager…and I feel good about my size. No fashion designer has the right to take that away from me, and so it was something I always kept in the back of my mind. Now, maybe some of that is a good description of them in some limited ways (shopping sounds like it might be a hobby, and I can’t/won’t fault them for that), but in others??  So, I’ll just say that going in, my expectations were low, but I had hope.

I’m going to get real here for a second. I don’t know Gela. (I also don’t know Pam, but since Gela is married to John Taylor…well, you get the point.) I’ve never met her, and while I’ve heard stories through the ever-present rumor mill – I would really like to give the benefit of the doubt to just about anyone before making my mind up rashly. Up until today I’d never even heard her voice before, believe it or not! I also know that there’s a certain faction in the Duranie community that is unhappy (I’m being as polite and PC about this as possible) with the use of fur in her clothing line. I don’t run their business, and I *do* support their choice to run their business however they so choose. Period. Additionally, I support MY choice, and YOUR choice as a consumer.  But my blog isn’t the place for grandstanding and soapboxing – you all have your own Facebook and Twitter accounts to do that if you so choose. I respect your right to voice your opinions. I also appreciate your consideration and respect for how I choose to run this blog. On the other hand, I wholeheartedly welcome comments about the book.  I encourage discussion on the topic at hand, always!

All of that aside, the one thing the book did do (aside from being entertaining!), was inspire. I watched an interview of Pam and Gela this morning – I think was called Good Day Book Club – that’s where I heard them speak for the first time.  Gela made a point near the end of the interview to say that one of the reasons they wrote the book was to inspire. She felt that if they could do it, others could as well. It takes passion and drive, and there’s plenty of that on example in the book.

While it’s true that when they’d start really talking about fashion a lot of the names and things they were saying went over my head (who is brainless now?!?), I couldn’t help but be impressed with the mere fact that they were so impassioned by what they wanted to do that they just went with it.  Once again it’s a case where some people are just dreamers, and some are doers…and the ones who take the risk are the ones who succeed.  Pam and Gela didn’t really have safety nets; they didn’t have irons thrown in the fire in three different spots – they went after the one thing they wanted most. That makes sense to me.  If you’re really that passionate about something you do, or if you really want something that badly, you do whatever you have to do in order to make it work.  I think that a lot of my life has been spent thinking “What if” instead of “what can I do to make it happen?”…and maybe I’m finally getting to the point where I’m starting to think about what can really be done.

I was surprised when I came to the end of the book. These didn’t seem like women who were hell-bent on making “less-than-petite” women like me feel bad about themselves. They didn’t seem like they were brainless, either. (Uh, hardly.)  There was one passage in the book when they talked about going to Taco Bell, and truthfully – I nearly fell over when I read that, and I did have a moment or several when I murmured “They’re just like us. Huh. Who knew?” In fact, there were a lot of times while reading that I thought they sounded very similar to Amanda and I (words I never really expected to type).  I kept thinking how maverick they were about the whole thing – they had no idea what they were doing a lot of the time, and they basically just tried to break as many rules as possible.  This sounds remarkably similar!

Whatever preconceived notions I may have had of Juicy, of Pam, and especially of Gela, went out the window after reading the book. These two women seem incredibly smart, business-savvy, and fearless. The book was a really fun read, I learned quite a bit, and maybe…just maybe…I’ll pay a little bit more attention to their clothing line as a result, even though at this point, it is way out of my price range unless I decide to never attend another DD show ever again in favor of buying clothing instead.

Let’s not go THAT far….

-R

To buy The Glitter Plan, and I highly recommend that you do…click on the picture!

The Glitter Plan