I can’t remember the last book that I read that left me thinking and feeling so much. Because I want to compare it to something, I would have to go with The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, but only because of the raw emotion. Honestly though, this is probably even better.
The Details Of How We Lived chronicles a group of friends who, after a devastating accident that leaves them torn apart, discover that one of their own is sick. But this isn’t just a story of what to do when you have a friend who’s time is limited, it’s about what matters in life, how to face the moments of uncertainty, and probably most of all about how and why it’s so important to grasp onto each moment that we are given. And every. single. bit. of. it. rings. true.
If you enjoy books that make you feel all of the emotions – happiness, sadness, anger, joy, tears – give this a read. I’ll admit, it took me a little while to get into, but oh goodness is it worth it. It reads like poetry and if I had been equipped with a highlighter at the time of reading, every other sentence would have been highlighted for posterity.
I can’t stress enough how much I recommend that you give them book a read. It’s not too terribly long, but the amount of emotion packed into it leaves you feeling like you’ve been living alongside of this group of friends all along. My one warning would be this: if you want an easy, light read – look elsewhere. But if you want something real and raw and expressive in the most poetic of ways, you won’t be disappointed.
This one will be added to my favorites list, and if your tastes are at all like mine, it’ll probably make an appearance on yours as well.
After reading this fantastic book, I was happy that Bailey Vincent agreed to answer a few questions that I had regarding her own inspiration and writing practices. Here’s what she had to say:
What would you say was your inspiration for writing The Details of How We Lived?
I wrote DHWL after enduring a horrifying long-term relationship, an eventual escape with my girls, and a hefty amount of emotional healing. I hadn’t written for pleasure in so long, because I had been pushed into a corner of only needing to write for a price tag… which killed a part of my soul, honestly. A lot of the reason why the book was so verbose was because of this. It was delicious therapy to revel in the idea of writing again for writing’s sake… To revel in our rich language, because I dang well can! In the same way the protagonist is stifled socially (a man of few words), but obsessed with prose – I found release by lavishing in the loquaciousness of words. They healed me, one page at a time. The book is not everyone’s cup of tea for this reason… but I think once you get into the vibe of it and give it a few pages, it’s less of a challenge.
What, if anything, did you learned about yourself through writing The Details of How We Lived?
Parts of the book were super difficult to write, emotionally. Having to put myself in the perspective of a mother who has lost her child- while being the mother of two little girls myself- was brutal. The biggest challenge was placing myself in the role of a caretaker. As someone with a chronic progressive illness, writing about hospitals and sickness wasn’t difficult (and it would have been easier from the patient angle)… but writing about while taking the place of (essentially) my husband was SO tricky. I grappled with guilt at some realities, and pushed myself as an empath in others. I didn’t want to write what I know- I wanted to write what I’m often too scared to explore. The worst chapter for me had to be the notion of wanting a baby but knowing you would likely lose a pregnancy due to health. That hit very, very close to home. I am a lifetime lover of Frida Kahlo- so I tried to channel her self portraits in a sense- letting blood and guts and gore spill onto the page… Even though I would never compare myself to her or anyone else of such talent. She is fearless, and it’s beautiful even when it’s disgusting.
What does your writing routine look like + is there anything that you do to motivate yourself when you don’t feel motivated to write?
This book was written with literally zero foresight. I sat down, I wrote the first chapter, and then I had to piece my way forward from there. That is typically my writing process, to be honest. I don’t use story boards, or notes, or even a lot of intentional thought towards what’s going to happen. I needed this enormously at the time, because the “chase” of following my characters and watching them develop and surprise me on their own was so healing. That alone fueled me to finish. The YA novel that I just recently completed (but haven’t published yet) is part of a series, so I had to actually think ahead and piece together plot-points and so on. But this novella developed on it’s own. I had little to do with what happened or how the roles evolved… I blame that on my characters! Totally their fault ; ) I am also super weird about sentence structure. This novella felt like a giant poem, so I generally loathe using redundant phrasing or repeated words again and again on one page- when a host of synonyms are available. There is a certain sort of cadence to writing that I can’t move on from if the sentence doesn’t feel right… It’s hard to explain, but it’s very rhythmic. The YA novel I just finished, however, is a totally different dance- it’s simpler and less verbose. Both demanded different things and different styles, which equates to a different pattern… and I just have to follow the pattern as if the book is directing itself.
What advice would you offer to other writers working on crafting their own stories for readers?
Sit down and do it. Getting in my head with writing is the worst, because I become overly concerned and never just practice. If you don’t know where the book is going to go, or what a character should be named, or where to go in the storyline… just keep writing and fumble along, and let the tale reveal itself to you. That’s the best part about writing! I have always been super weird out-of-body when writing fiction, in a way that I can’t with my journalist or editorial copy. As a kid, I would read stories back to my parents and go, “Oh hey, that’s cool”, and my Mom would say “um… YOU wrote it. You don’t remember?” We didn’t have a TV growing up, which is probably the primary reason I wrote so prolifically. I’d wake up first thing in the morning and pour out pages. We have boxes upon boxes of notebooks, which eventually graduated to my first full length novel completed at 12 or 13. I always believed that I would be a published novelist by 14, so the fact it took me this long still bums me out- lol. As a young mother, I wrote my first non-fiction book in one weekend. I knew I only had 2 days to get the writing done or sacrifice time with my 3 month old, so I sat down on a Friday night and didn’t stop until Sunday morning- and pumped out all 300 pages. Maybe being a mom is an advantage because I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block… Perhaps it’s a trained skill? Nowadays, I am far less prolific because health honestly does impact my mind. The amount of drugs I’m on or pain that I’m in make you rather fuzzy-headed, so I have to “jump” on inspiration the second I have it, or risk stalling out for months at a time. I guess overall, I feel as much a voyeur as the reader: happy to be along for the ride. If I work every aspect of the plot out beforehand, then I’m super bored and don’t want to bother executing anything. If ever possible, leave lots of loopholes for yourself and let your subconscious surprise you!
I have been following along with Bailey’s story for just a short time now, but she is one of the coolest, most inspiring people I have come across. If you’d like to connect with her, you can find her on:
WEBSITE | YOUTUBE | TWITTER
And I highly, highly recommend you pick up this novella to read over the weekend. I promise you’ll carry it’s message with you beyond your reading it and you’ll feel better and more inspired for it. Grab a copy here: KINDLE
I was provided with a free copy of this book in order to conduct this review.