Friday, October 07, 2011

"Unlove Story" by "Elvis": Writing Anonymously, a "Dumped" Husband Lets It All Out -- Lovingly, Hopefully.


The new E-book, "Unlove Story," now available  on Amazon and Barnes&Noble, is like nothing you have ever read. The author, writing anonymously as "Elvis," breaks new ground in two big ways: one, as a husband going to where men do not normally go, their true inner feelings; and two, by telling a story that very few, if any, of the 44 million men in the U.S. over 50 would tell, of rejection.

After his wife of 38 years tells Elvis that she wants a divorce, he is shocked; he never saw it coming. A dagger in his heart, desperate to save his marriage, he lets it all out: about how much he loves his wife and can't bear the thought of life without her love; about marriage, family, life;  about his innermost feelings and fears.

This is from the  description of "Unlove Story" on the offering page:

A husband, a man, a guy doing this? Isn’t that unheard of?

Yes and yes. Here is a normal testosterone-driven male of the species writing his own true, heart-wrenching story of lost love, feelings, family, despair, desperate loneliness, and terror. And doing so powerfully.

Elvis writes: “I reached out to hug her -- and she pushed me away. This person I had spent all these many years with was stone cold, unresponsive; ...Her eyes were translucent, looking right through me as if I were not there. She said nothing. All of a sudden, this woman who is my wife doesn’t know me and I don’t know her. The love of my life, the mother of my children, my best friend, my partner is no longer there. In her place is a stranger who no longer wants anything to do with me. What is strange is, I didn't see it coming.”

Searching for answers, Elvis looks back on his married life with Emily (not her real name) and their many happy years. Even as he does so, even as Elvis and Emily both have lawyers, fight about the house and money, and head for divorce, he prays she will change her mind.

In “Unlove Story,” Elvis also digs deep into the causes of late-life divorces and uncovers a startling new social phenomenon: most such divorces are initiated by wives. Oh, so he’s also now a statistic in a hot new husband-dumping trend!

Lastly, although Elvis is not a writer and has never done anything like this before,“Unlove Story” is a beautiful, well-written story from start to finish. Guess he is a writer. Finish? Actually as this is written, we don’t know how the story will end.

Will the divorce go ahead? Or will Elvis and Em get back together?

Elvis writes, “Emily, if you are reading this -- I hope you are -- I love you, always have, and always will. How did this happen to us? I miss our life together so much, feel so lost, and am in so much pain that I don’t know what to do. I’m thinking: maybe if I write down my feelings, it may help me understand how and why our love went away and give me the emotional strength to go on and even -- my dream of dreams -- somehow get us back together.”

Read “Unlove Story” and weep. But -- and you won’t be able to help yourself --you’ll also be pulling for Elvis’ fairy-tale ending. 

There is an interesting back story to how "Unlove Story" came to be published. Elvis is a friend.  He told me what he was going through. He said that he loved his wife, couldn't bear the thought of divorce, and that he felt alone and desperate. Not knowing what else to do, he said that he had started writing down his feelings and would I like to see what he had written?

I said sure.  He gave me the first chapter, then a second, and a third.  Reading the chapters, I was struck first by his openness and honesty.  Second, I thought how unusual it was to have a man writing so personally about his own marriage and willingly sharing it.  Third, though he describes plenty of emotional trauma, Elvis had also done a good deal of research.

Citing sources, he describes the state of late-life marriages, the marriage counseling industry -- which he saw up close -- and a new societal phenomenon: women  initiating late-life divorces.  Elvis cites research finding that women now initiate 66% of late-life divorces. 

Figuring  that the writing would at least be therapeutic, I encouraged Elvis to keep going.  But as he continued writing and giving me his work, I began to see something else: a story.  He was writing a story that was both real and powerful.   Unlike fiction where the story comes from the writer's imagination, "Unlove Story" is documented.

Elvis quotes things that he and his wife say to each other.  We read his actual letters imploring his wife to work with him to save the marriage and asking what she wants him to do.  As we do, we hear little from Emily -- this is Elvis' story after all. Then, after wondering and wondering about what she thinks, when our curiosity is at a peak, we finally find out. We get to read her Dear John letter, which is exactly as she wrote it.

That's the sign of a good story.   

It so happens that besides writing this blog, I am also an E-book publisher, operating State Kid Publications. I told Elvis I saw an unusual and powerful story in his manuscript and was interested in publishing it as an E-book. But I also told him that the manuscript was way too long for an E-book.

"You got a great story here," I said, "but it needs to be cut at least in half."

Elvis' face fell.

"People won't read it.  You'll lose them."

"Okay," he said. "Do it."

I took out my hatchet and went to work.  As I have done so often in my many years in publishing, I cut out repetitions and unnecessary words.  I chopped redundancies. The goal: to bring the story to center stage where it can work its full power and glory.

Though  Elvis says that I "walk around with a bloody hatchet," he was very accepting of the editing.  He asked only to delete passages that he felt, as edited,  put family members in a bad light.  I made the deletions. Dealing with a ton of hurt himself, he had no wish to hurt his wife or anybody else.

One thing I should make clear about "Unlove Story:"  This is Elvis' story, not mine. He is the author, writing beautifully under the most trying of circumstances.   I don't know how he was able to do it, but he did it.   I am only the editor and publisher. 

Also, I want to thank Barbie Bell for putting me in touch with designer Alana White. Alana, you came up with a great cover! Congratulations! Barbie and Alana, all those e-mails back and forth on the cover were worth it.  Thank you both!

When we had all done our best with "Unlove Story," I notified the author as follows:

Dear Elvis,

Congratulations, "Unlove Story" is now published and on sale on Barnes&Noble. Within 24 hours, it will also be live on Amazon.  Next week, it will be on sale at Google E-books. What will happen with it now, I don't know.  But I know this: you have written a courageous and powerful story and no one will be able to take that away from you. Guess what, Elvis?  You are now a writer.  How about that?  I'm off to Seattle tomorrow morning for the birth of grandchild number 10.  Take care, George

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