Make Your Mess Your Memoir
⏲ 4 minute read
“You wrote a book?” he asked, his eyes boring into mine.
I nodded. We were sitting under the bright studio lights of a TV studio in midtown Manhattan where I seemed to be blowing the show host’s mind. We were talking about Paris Hilton going to jail or flashing paparazzi or maybe it was Lindsay Lohan going to jail—I honestly did so many of those segments back then that they all blended together.
During the segment, I mentioned that my book, Party Girl, was about addiction and recovery and that Paris and Lindsay may be suffering from substance abuse issues.
After the taping, the show host found me in the green room and asked me if I could come back on the show—not to talk about a celebrity but to discuss me and my book.
I’d been appearing on TV for a few years by then. It had started accidentally, when a CNN show had needed someone who worked at an entertainment magazine to discuss a celebrity and I’d been available. I agreed, it went well and that’s when I found myself appearing regularly on The Today Show, The Talk, The CBS Morning Show and the like.
But I was perfectly clear about my role: Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan attracted viewers. Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan would not come on The Today Show, Fox News or CNN to discuss their party girl antics. But I would. So those shows could cover Hilton or Lohan without needing to bother with publicists and negotiations and hearing no.
I understood that those shows didn’t care about me.
But then suddenly they did.
Yes, my book, the one I’d started on a whim at my friend Melanie’s kitchen table, had gotten one of the biggest news show hosts in the world to want to devote an episode to me. We scheduled a time for me to come back a few weeks later and, as promised, we did a segment all about me and my book.
That’s when I truly learned the power of having the word “author” associated with my name.
But that wasn’t the only surprise of the trip. When I got back to my hotel that night, my agent called and told me that we were in the midst of a bidding war over the Party Girl film rights. A mother-daughter producing duo wanted to make it into a Lifetime movie, an independent producer wanted to make it as an indie movie and Melanie Griffith wanted to make it into a mainstream movie with me as the writer.
After that, there was an onslaught of publicity for my book—I discussed it on a slew of CNN, NBC and CBS shows and it started getting written about in publications like Cosmo, The New York Daily News and Redbook, among others. This meant that I was suddenly receiving hundreds of messages from people all over the world who were struggling with addiction. I had inadvertently walked into a situation where I could help a lot of people.
That was a decade and a half ago. Every year since, I’ve become all the more able to embrace my mess and crystalize my message. At nearly 20 years of sobriety, more of my puzzle pieces fit together than they did back then. Who knows, in another 20 years, I may even have the whole puzzle finished.
But for now, all I can do is go back to the beginning to trace how this whole mess started.
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