Author Interview: Sallie Weissinger!

Meet author Sallie Weissinger and read her beautiful tale in Yes, Again: (Mis)adventures of a Wishful Thinker.

Read Chapter One at the end of this post!

Tell us a little about yourself and your published book.

My memoir recounts my adventures as a widow in Berkeley, seeking a new relationship late in life. Having met and married the love of my life through the newspaper personals in the pre-Internet 1970s, it was a challenge, in my sixties and seventies, to navigate the online dating world of the early twenty-first century. I met men who lied, attempted to extort money, and had unsavory histories I discovered through Google. Fortunately, there were enough positive, even humorous, encounters to keep me going. But it was a slog, with ups, downs, and zig-zags leading down paths I couldn't have foreseen. My book covers the exhilarating and gritty aspects of a number of my experiences - and much in between.

Interwoven with the evolution of my search for a meaningful life, with or without a partner, are stories from my childhood as a military brat from New Orleans, a first marriage and divorce in my twenties, a loving relationship with my second husband, and my tale of grappling with loss. With friends and dogs at my side, I threw myself into volunteer work in Central and South America and in my hometown, post-Katrina. I also describe an unexpected mystical experience with a shaman in the Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru, and life coaching sessions in Berkeley. Ultimately I found a serendipitous path and followed it.

Do you have a day job? What is your writing routine?
As a septuagenarian writing post-retirement, I've had the luxury of not having to earn a living while writing. But I also had the frustration of not being as self-disciplined as I was when I was a bank executive, managing a staff of forty-five and organizing my time efficiently, then racing home to be with my husband and daughter. The past five years, while I've been writing, first in a journal, and then on my journal-turned-memoir, I've found myself frittering time away during the day and then, at times, starting mid-afternoon and writing till 1 am. At other times, I've buckled down after breakfast and a morning walk with my dogs, stayed at my computer, and written all day. I couldn't have done that in my business-suit-and-briefcase days, commuting to San Francisco. I am in awe of women who hold down a full-time job, care for a family, and somehow find the time to write.

When did it dawn on you that you wanted to become a writer?
I've always loved to write, but this is my first book. And I've never called myself a "writer." I wrote for my high school and college papers. I edited internal newspapers and newsletters for several companies where I worked and have routinely been asked to edit work-related memos for others. For years I wrote for several non-profits' websites as a volunteer. My all-time favorite writing job was as corporate communications specialist for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, but my writing was read by bank executives and employees, as well as Federal Reserve Board of Governors staff, not what I'd call artistic or literary audiences.

Writing Yes, Again was different - I wanted people who didn't know anything about my life experiences to be intrigued, engaged, touched. It was the first time I learned I had a voice - several friends who read early drafts and became "trusted readers" for the final galleys said, "I hear your voice coming through loud and clear." I loved hearing that. I didn't know I had a voice.

What inspired you to write?

Once I realized my journal could be a memoir, I figured it might inspire others to identify a goal and work toward it, regardless of age. I wanted to encourage them to go for it, if they knew what "it" was. My current goal, at age 77, is to walk one of the caminos to Santiago de Compostela. COVID squelched those plans, but only temporarily. I still plan to undertake the spiritually rich and physically rigorous experience, hiking through the Spanish countryside and towns and ending up at the cathedral where Saint James' headless body is reputedly buried in the crypt. I've been to Santiago twice, but now I'll walk the path, not take the easy route. For some "walking the path" might mean learning a language and visiting a country where the language is spoken. For others it could mean getting an advanced degree in psychology and becoming a family counselor, or finally finishing college at age sixty-five. If my book inspires anything like that, I would be immensely pleased.

Does your book incorporate certain aspects of your life?
My book is 100% about my life and people I have loved- family members, soulmates, and close friends- and some I have not- specifically the males who were the source of the misadventures noted in my book's subtitle. I took no liberties with the truth. I am struck realizing how much harder it would have been to be self-revealing if my parents were still alive - I would not have discussed my feelings about their Southern prejudices, my mother's social expectations of my sister and me, and my military father's autocratic demeanor, not to mention my confessed peccadilloes as a Southern lady. Those candid disclosures would not have played well with them, and I would not have been willing to hurt them.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers over 40?
Asking my advice for aspiring writers of any age is like asking a contractor to provide professional advice to a hair stylist. I'm unqualified to say anything other than to recommend finding a highly qualified, congenial writing coach to help you start out and relying on her to help frame your thoughts, your direction, your style. My writing coach and first editor, Jane Staw, told me over and over that I should stop being a reporter, providing facts and skimping on feelings. She insisted I dig deeper into emotional territory. Without her, there would have been no memoir, it would have been a newspaper article that never got published. My second editor, Courtney Flavin, put many a substantive twist here and there, highlighting amusing anecdotes without taking away from the reality of pain and loss. A second thing I would recommend, but wasn't able to do because of COVID, is to work with a support group of writers. In a writing group, you can share your work, get and give feedback, and exchange "atta-girls and atta-boys." Writing can be a lonely sport.


Learn more about Sallie here!
Memoir | Yesagainmemoir
https://www.facebook.com/SallieWeissingerAuthor












Chapter One

Excerpt from Yes, Again by Sallie Weissinger(Chapter One)  

 

For the record, I’ve never considered myself middle‐aged. 

I didn’t even think getting older was a possibility until the 

AARP publications started arriving. Little did I know they 

would arrive so soon and in such quantity that it would make it 

difficult to open or close my mailbox. Some people think AARP 

notifications are a sign one is approaching senior-hood, but I 

won’t call myself a senior until I stop dancing to “Johnny B. 

Goode” and “Great Balls of Fire” as I did when I was fifteen 

with hips swiveling and booty shaking. And I won’t stop dancing 

while there’s the music of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis to 

swivel and shake to. 

 

Even at seventy-two, I still felt youngish. I’d been lonely for 

a long time, having lost my husband to esophageal cancer when 

I was fifty-seven, and I wanted to start looking for someone. But 

what was I looking for? Husband, companion, buddy? …. 

 

When I lamented my solo status to my former apartment 

manager, longtime friend, and to this day brother‐equivalent, 

Russ, he suggested, “Why not try The Bay Guardian?” The widely 

distributed and wildly popular Guardian was a free newspaper 

covering left‐leaning politics, cultural events, and, of course 

(being San Francisco‐based), drugs and sex with scandalous 

articles designed to shock all but the most liberal readers. (The 

paper also printed a much‐coveted annual nude beach issue.) To 

my Southern belle way of thinking, the paper overstepped the 

bounds of propriety by leaps and bounds. 

 

“Russ,” I told him, “The Guardian is too weird. It’s tacky. 

That’s what losers do. I can’t do that.” 

“Sallie, you’re wrong. I’ve met impressive women through 

the personals; they’re not losers or pathetic or even close to that,” 

Russ chided me. 

 

Ultimately I gave in. I picked up three weekly issues of the 

newspaper and marked a total of twenty personals ads with a 

red pen. I sent fourteen letters to the Guardian PO boxes listed. 

Eight of the fourteen men responded to me, and I met five of 

them. The brief coffee dates convinced me the men doing the 

personals weren’t psychopaths. I enjoyed meeting them, even 

if I wasn’t finding “him.” To prepare how to present myself 

in my ad, I studied how other women described themselves— 

sensuous, sensual, highly imaginative, erotically oriented, skilled 

in amorous techniques, and curvaceous in body—and then went 

in a different direction, keeping the text as short as I could to 

minimize the cost: 

Share the good things. Attractive, sensitive, 

professional W/F, 34, seeks male kindred 

soul, someone bright, serious, fun, strong, gentle. 

Guardian Box 12‐51‐E. 

I ran the ad twice at a cost of around forty dollars. Maybe 

forty-five 

 

Copyright (c) 2021 by Sallie Weissinger 



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