Between the Shadow and Lo by Lauren Sapala

 

Lauren Sapala

 

 

PLEASE WELCOME LAUREN SAPALA 

 

Lauren Sapala is a writing coach who specializes in coaching introverted, intuitive writers. She founded the WriteCity writing groups in Seattle and San Francisco and currently blogs about writing and creativity at www.laurensapala.com.

 

 

My fellow creative friend on the east coast just released another book August 29, 2017. Check it out!

 

 

Between the Shadow and LO

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

BOOK BLURB

“A voice that was strong and cruel came from somewhere deep within me. When the voice split away and talked to me all by itself I started calling her Lo…She’d watched me at my lowest points and saved up a thousand slights, a million minor offenses. She forgave nothing, and now she wanted revenge.”

Leah is an alcoholic. She’s antisocial, self-destructive, and deeply damaged. She’s also battling a voice in her head she calls Lo, who wants to take over her body. Lo is everything Leah isn’t—beautiful, charming, confident, and ruthless in her desires.  She commandeers Leah’s will whenever Leah gets too drunk, and acts as her escort through the rainy Seattle underworld.

As a misfit bibliophile, Leah’s conception of reality has never been rock solid, but as she spirals deeper into addiction the “real world” of bars, bikers, dealers, and addicts slowly dissolves into Lo’s dark vision. As Lo steadily tightens her hold, Leah prepares to make one last bid for survival, knowing her only chance is to transcend Lo’s terrifying drive toward death.

 

 

 

Road

 

 

 

In the beginning you addressed this book to your Uncle John. Who was he to you, and what impact did he have on your life?

My Uncle John is my dad’s identical twin brother. One of the issues I explore in the book is the death of my younger brother, which occurred when he was six years old and I was eight. My younger brother battled leukemia for three years before his death and my Uncle John was the one who drove us to his chemotherapy appointments two hours away, each month. My uncle had a bad hip, so being in the car for long periods of time like this wasn’t ideal. But he did it anyway. I have always carried that memory of my uncle soldiering on through the physical and emotional difficulty of ferrying us back and forth to those appointments. I watched his example and learned from it. That’s why I say in the dedication that he taught me that “the only way out is through.” It’s a well known saying that means, “the only way to get through it is to get through it.” My Uncle John always got through things, he didn’t run away from them. This is a lesson that the narrator of the book, Leah, needs to learn.

 

 

 

*What does the “shadow” represent from the title of your book?

The “shadow” refers to the shadow self, that psychological dark side that exists in each of us, but normally remains buried in the subconscious. The narrator, Leah, is a normally introverted, bookish type of person who doesn’t know how to express her true self, or how to express her real needs. When she gets drunk, her shadow self comes roaring to the surface, the wildly extroverted, aggressive, domineering personality who has absolutely no awareness of anyone else’s needs other than her own.

For those who are interested in MBTI, I’m an INFJ personality type, so my shadow side is an ESTP. However, because our shadow side usually stays hidden in our subconscious, it also stays relatively undeveloped. A personality expert I love said that using your conscious side is like signing your name with your dominant hand—it’s smooth and fluid from using it so much. But using your shadow side is like trying to sign your name with your left foot—everything comes out distorted and barely recognizable because that part of you hardly ever sees the light of day.

When Leah gets drunk she goes into her shadow side and becomes Lo and, consequently, everything in her comes out as distorted and barely recognizable. It’s definitely a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of situation.

 

 

 

 

Shadow

 

 

 

 

*What does the “Lo” represent? 

Lo is the personality that Leah, the narrator of the book, becomes when she gets drunk. I was an alcoholic for many years and this book is based on my experiences during that time. To this day, I’m fascinated by the personality changes that people undergo due to addiction. It’s quite common to hear people say that a family member is the most loving, compassionate person when sober, but when they’re drunk or high it’s the complete opposite. And of course, people do things when intoxicated that they would never do sober, like lie, cheat, and steal. I find this so intriguing and so I wanted to explore how that process worked for me when I was an active alcoholic.

I also believe that, as a society, we use a lot of different addictions to lower consciousness on a regular basis— that is, to make ourselves less alert, less empathetic, less compassionate, less emotionally sensitive. Alcohol and drugs are obvious choices, but we also use things like shopping, sex, the internet, gossip, an oversaturation of news and media, exercise, and food. In my book, Leah is just one extreme example of someone who systematically and purposefully tries to lower her consciousness whenever she can (through alcohol) because she doesn’t want to deal with her emotionally painful past, or her energetically sensitive present.

 

 

 

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*There are two very interesting quotes at the front of the book. Can you describe what they mean to you?

The first quote actually comes from one of my clients, a writer named Ritu Kaushal. She has a blog called Walking through Transitions (http://www.walkingthroughtransitions.com) which is just fantastic. I was reading some of her work and stumbled across that quote from her and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Especially the last few lines:

Maybe, that’s what hurt does. It cuts us into different people. There are some parts with their gaping holes that break off from the core, and then they roam inside us, reminding us of our own poverty.

I thought, “Yes! Ah-ha! That’s EXACTLY the way I felt during all those dark years when I was drinking!” Ritu very graciously let me use the quote from her and I am so grateful because it’s just perfect.

The second quote is from Jean Genet:

Worse than not realizing the dreams of your youth, would be to have been young and never dreamed at all.

He’s one of my very favorite writers, and that quote from him sums up how I felt about those years. They were dark and difficult, but I’m so glad they happened and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. As painful as that time was, I still saw it all through my writer’s imagination (my “dreaming eyes”) and I treasure those experiences.

 

 

 

 

Dreaming eyes

 

 

 

 

*After suffering some hardship you turned to books. What led you in that direction?

Oh, I’ve always been a book nut. In fact, that was something I really wanted to emphasize in this memoir/novel. Because of some painful experiences in her childhood, Leah has a lot of trouble connecting with people. She feels separate from everyone all the time. One of the main ways she relates to the world and figures out how to navigate life is through books. For example, there’s one instance in the book where Leah meets this couple who run a nightclub together. She immediately compares them to characters out of a Fitzgerald novel and wonders to herself if she should “plan” to feel about them the same way she felt about those characters. This is extremely dysfunctional—but that’s actually how I was at that time. I had no idea how to even have spontaneous emotions toward people because I was so guarded and shut down. So, I often categorized people as characters from books I had read, and then treated them accordingly.

Leah (who is obviously me as a character) does this all through the novel too. She becomes involved with a guy who reminds her of Prince Myshkin from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and so she instantly puts herself in the role of the tragic female character of that novel to support that fantasy. At the end of the book Leah flees her disastrous life in Seattle to start over in San Francisco, and the only way she can process that decision is by comparing herself to Anna Karenina jumping in front of the train. You’ll see this over and over again throughout the book. Leah is so frightened by “real life” that the only way she can interpret her experience of it is through story.

 

 

 

 

The Idiot

 

 

 

 

*What were some challenges writing this book.

Um, wow. I could write ten pages on this. Well, the first draft took me over two years to write. It came out to about 800 pages, and it then took me another nine years to cut and rewrite and revise. I probably rewrote the whole book at least five times. Putting it all together structurally was kind of a nightmare.

Beyond the actual process of writing it, the book contains really, really personal stuff. And a lot of it is super embarrassing. I detail incidents in that book that I hadn’t told my closest friends about. There are sections that are sexually explicit, and other sections that are incredibly emotionally intimate. I was terrified of what people would think of me.

I resolved to bury the manuscript in the backyard and never think about it again at least 20 times. And then I finally published it.

 

 

 

 

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*Name the rewards of writing it.

Ha, I could write ten pages about this too! Well, first of all I felt a huge sense of relief once it was out of my desk drawer and into the world. I do believe that releasing your work into the world is the essential last step in the creative cycle for any writer. If you have a ton of work stuffed away that no one has ever seen, it’s just as mentally unhealthy as it would be if you were a hoarder and living in a house stuffed with piles of newspapers.

Second of all, I made the most unlikely and unexpected connections through the book. Readers messaged me on Facebook and emailed me directly to tell me how strongly the book resonated with them. All the stuff that I was so embarrassed about and was cringing over…well, they loved it. They told me they thought it was hilarious or beautiful or just awesome. That was a really, really cool thing for me to see, that I’m not the only one that’s gone through dark times.

 

 

 

 

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*What is the message you want others to walk away with?

I want others to read this book and know that they don’t have to hide themselves. It’s okay if you have or are currently struggling with addiction, or low self-worth, or messed up stuff from your past. Other people are going through it too. We’re all human and none of us are alone in this. I also hope that people are just plain entertained by the book. Readers have told me that they read it all in one night because they just couldn’t keep from going on to the next chapter, and then the next. I think that’s something every writer wants to hear, that the book you wrote was just actually a lot of fun for people to read.

 

 

 

*Hindsight is 20/20. Put on your hindsight glasses and write a letter to your younger self. What would the letter say? What would you say to Lo?

Well, after living with her myself, I can honestly say there is no telling Lo anything. She is completely ego-based and runs entirely on fear. That’s her role in this life and that’s cool. But I would tell Leah that everything is going to work out, and that everything she’s living through is going to be in a book someday. I think that would have made her very happy.

 

 

 

 

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Connect with Lauren

Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

Don’t miss out on Lauren’s other book, The INFJ Writer

 

INFJ writer

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

THANKS FOR JOINING US ON THE WRITING TRAIN

 

Train

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

Mystery Thriller Week 2018

 

 

 

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Splendid Interview with Fellow Intuitive Author Lauren Sapala

 

LAUREN SAPALA

Author of The INFJ Writer Cracking the Creative Genius of the World’s Rarest Type

 

 

 

 

lauren-sapala

 

 

Lauren Sapala is a writer, writing coach, author of The INFJ Writer, is obsessed with all literature, and my newfound best friend.

 

Welcome Lauren!

 

 

 

 

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*Are you originally from the west coast ? 

I’m originally from Michigan, but moved to Seattle right after college. After a few years there I took off for San Francisco. I had never visited the west coast at all before moving to Seattle, and I had never been to California before I moved to San Francisco. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl!

I hear you! Me too! 

 

 

 

 

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*When did you decide to be a writer?

Wow, this might be the toughest question I’ve ever been asked about writing! I don’t think I ever “decided.” I started writing stories and poems from a young age and it was just always something I did. I never had to think about it or choose it. However, I did choose to stop writing, right after my senior year in college when a professor told me I wasn’t very good at it and I should find something else to do with my life.

That’s awesome it feels very natural and instinctive to you, or at least until you encountered a negative influence in college. Sorry to hear that. You’d be surprised how many writers I’ve talked to that had the same experience. I find that very perplexing.

 

 

 

WRITING

“Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” -Melinda Haynes

 

 

 

 

*Who or what influenced you the most in your decision?

There are too many names to list so, in the interest of brevity, I’ll just say: Other writers. Every book I read that spoke to me had a writer behind it who encouraged me to start writing again, and then to keep going.

It’s great to receive encouragement and motivation from other writers isn’t it?

 

 

 

never-stop-fighting

 

 

 

 

*Besides nonfiction, what else do you write?

I’ve written three memoirs and two novels. The first memoir is scheduled for release in Spring 2017.

Oh nice! Yippee! Another book release! Drop me line and I’ll help you with some promotion if you’d like. 

 

 

 

*Why did you decide to become a story coach?

After I started writing again in my mid 20’s I formed a writing group in Seattle and then one in San Francisco. These writing groups were based off of the Alcoholics Anonymous format, meaning: you came and you shared your struggle with writing, but you didn’t have to participate if you didn’t want to, you could always remain just an observer. After the sharing, we settled down to do an hour of silent writing together. I found myself working one-on-one with a lot of the writers in the group, and pretty soon it was eating up so much of my free time that I decided to open a business doing this work.

Nice. I like how those begin. Organically and spontaneously. So glad you started writing again. 

 

 

 

 

coach

 

 

 

 

*Can you name a few benefits from helping others in their writing?

Holy cow, there are so many benefits I don’t know that I could even begin to cover them all! My first and favorite probably is that I get to hear about and share in other people’s lives. Whatever story someone is writing, it always has everything to do with them. I find human beings to be the most fascinating magical creatures, and the fact that other people trust me enough to let me try to help them with their creative process, and sometimes all their inner emotional “stuff” too, is such an honor.

There’s definitely a rewarding social aspect to helping others. Human beings are definitely fascinating magical creatures! Especially the intuitive, artistic types! 

 

 

 

 

*Tell us about your book, The INFJ Writer.

The INFJ Writer is a writing guide based on the real-world experiences of my writing clients. After a year or two of doing coaching work with writers, I noticed that almost every blocked writer that showed up on my doorstep (that is, in my email inbox) was an INFJ or INFP personality type. These writers were highly sensitive introverts who had A LOT to say about the world but no way to get the words out. I saw immediately that they were the same kind of writers who had shown up to the writing groups I formed based on the AA format—scared, creatively paralyzed idealists who were also thoughtful, compassionate, and invested with a deep sense of purpose and passion about art and writing.

They were intuitive writers. And traditional methods don’t work for intuitive writers, as I had found out through my own personal experience, and as I saw my clients finding out, over and over and over again. Outlining, plotting the entire arc of the story in advance, using checklists for character development—none of this stuff worked for intuitive writers. In fact, it blocked them even more from their own inner creative light. That’s when I knew I had to write The INFJ Writer. It’s for intuitive writers who are experiencing blocks and don’t have the money or the time to hire a coach like myself who specializes in working with intuitive introverts. The book contains exercises in every chapter to get the blocked writer’s creative energy moving again.

Thank you for taking the time to write such a book. Although my personality type if not INFJ, I can relate to all of the points that you make here. We’re not too different!

 

 

 

 

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*What led you to discover your personality type and what bearings did it have on you as a writer?

I had a desk job for a while where I had a ton of free time and unlimited access to the internet. I had always been interested in psychology so I started taking a lot of online personality tests. Most of them were just for fun, but when I read the description of the INFJ personality type it was like my whole world cracked wide open. Suddenly I realized there was a chance that I wasn’t a completely weird alien (which is how I had felt for most of my life). Finding out I was an INFJ bolstered my self esteem in a thousand ways, one of those being that I finally had the confidence to start putting my writing out into the world.

I could never have a desk job, although I’ve been blogging a lot these days, lol! Wow. You’re story sounds strikingly similar to mine. I’ve only discovered my personality type earlier this year after suffering from a long bout of depression and low self-esteem. But when I read Heidi Priebe’s book, The Comprehensive ENFP Survival Guide, It opened up mines of life changing revelations. 

 

 

 

 

*How much does our personality type affect our ability to learn the craft of writing?

Hmmm…this is an interesting question. I would say that our personality type doesn’t affect our ability at all, but it does affect the way we view ourselves and how adequately we are measuring up to what we consider “ability.” For instance, most INFP writers do not do well with linear structure. When they’re writing, they tend to write in scattered pieces. There IS an order there, but the order usually has to do with a hidden beautiful pattern that the INFP writer follows almost solely according to intuition. From the outside, it might look like a mess. And many, many INFP writers have internalized the assumptions of mainstream writing culture, which says writers should be very concerned with the coherence of the storyline, even in the very first draft. So the INFP writer will see that he’s writing in pieces and get very down on himself for it, and then the negative self-talk comes in and the INFP writer berates himself for not having any writing “ability.” Well, this writer does have ability. His ability just shows up in a different way (especially in that first draft) than it does for most other people.

I should’ve phrased this question differently, but your response is perfect! I can totally relate to this one. 

 

 

 

 

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*How can not knowing our personality type inadvertently affect our writing?

Just like in the world at large, an intuitive who does not know she’s an intuitive will tend to feel crazy or like something is wrong with her most of the time. It’s exactly the same thing in writing. If you write in scattered pieces, or you have a lot of trouble finishing things, or you go through huge amounts of anxiety and emotional turmoil whenever your stories are critiqued, and you don’t know you’re a highly sensitive intuitive writer, the first thing you’ll do is blame yourself. The second thing you’ll do is try to “toughen up” and introduce some sort of harsh discipline into your writing life, which will make you feel worse. Until you learn about your true makeup as a person and an artist—and accept that makeup—you’ll always be caught in this vicious cycle that swings between the inner critic and writer’s block.

This is all very helpful and therapeutic information. Thanks for sharing. 

 

 

 

*Have words of encouragement to all the intuitive types?

Almost every intuitive person I’ve ever met undervalues their own intuition and their own strong intelligence. Use that mind that’s so strong in you! Read everything you can about what you are, and learn everything you can about other people and what makes them tick. The more deeply you know yourself, the easier everything becomes.

I love this statement! I find it very uplifting. Do you have any reading recommendations for personality type? How about your book! 

 

 

 

 

the-infj-writer

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Website

 

According to Goodreads

After years of coaching writers who struggled with procrastination issues, high sensitivity to criticism, and crippling self doubt, Lauren Sapala realized that almost every one of her clients was an INFJ or INFP. Using the insights gleaned from these clients, as well as her own personal story, Sapala shows us how the experience of the intuitive writer can be radically different from the norm.

INFJ writers don’t think like anyone else, and their highly creative brains take a toll on them that they rarely share with the outside world. The INFJ Writer discusses such topics as:

How an INFJ writer’s physical health is tied to their creative output
Why INFJ writers are more likely to fall prey to addictions
When an INFJ writer should use their natural psychic ability to do their best creative work

Whether looking to start writing again or to finish the novel/memoir they started so long ago, any writer with the self-awareness to identify themselves as highly sensitive and intuitive will benefit from this book that helps them to find their own magic, and to finally use it to build the creative life that actually works for them.

 

 

Add this one to your TBR pile!

 

 

Reading

 

 

 

 

 

*I’m an ENFP writer. What 3-5 things would you say to this kind of writer?

Oh, one of my best friends is an ENFP! You guys are truly bubbling fountains of light and inspiration…who can very quickly turn into avenging angels when someone has been unfairly wronged. ENFPs tend to experience a lot of guilt because they are driven so strongly by their curiosity that it makes them sometimes abandon projects they cared about a lot or befriend people who can be unhealthy for them in different ways. ENFPs are very, very hard on themselves inwardly and, like all intuitives, they struggle with giving too much to others and not letting themselves receive.

Oh good, make that two of your best friends are ENFP! Tell her I said hi and give her a big high five! Thanks for sharing this. It all rings so true. Never realized how hard I was on myself either. I’m totally Curious George on steroids. 

 

 

 

 

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I always advise ENFPs:

To follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. It doesn’t matter if no one else understands why you’re drawn to that person or thing. If you’re drawn to it, it’s got something for you.

You’re way more intelligent than you give yourself credit for. ENFPs can come off as bouncy and happy and even a little spacey, but under the surface they are extremely astute observers and very quick studies. Science, math, foreign languages—all of these subjects come naturally to ENFPs who find some emotional reason to get invested in them.

It’s okay to work on a bunch of different writing projects at once. And it’s okay to abandon a writing project if the spark is gone for you. ENFPs are true artisans. They’re like sculptors with words—they like to have their hands on many different textures at once. Let yourself play and explore. ENFPs need to do that.

WOW. I love this. I want to print this out and plaster it on my forehead!

 

 

 

 

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*If you could change yourself which personality type would you pick? Or perhaps, what would change in your cognitive stack?

A few years ago I probably would have said that I wished I was an ENTJ or an ENFJ, some type that still had the intuitive piece but perhaps didn’t share the constant companion of introverted anxiety I’ve experienced for so much of my life. But now, in my late 30s, I’m actually pretty happy with what I was born with, anxiety and all.

What a great answer. I love it. Sometimes I want to be an ENFJ, but I would be a completely different bird. Having that “P” Perceiving function is a huge part of my personality. Thank for sharing.

 

 

 

*Favorite quotes?

One of my very favorites is from Napoleon Hill:

 

“It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.”

Isn’t that the truth. 

 

 

 

*Favorite writing books?

I love, love, LOVE Stephen King’s Memoirs on Writing. That man is a genius.

That he is. Haven’t read it yet but looking forward to it. 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for joining us Lauren!

 

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com