Janet Mock has known she wanted to be a storyteller since she was a fifth grader in Honolulu who escaped to her local public library to devour books by Maya Angelou, Terry McMillan and Zora Neale Hurston. “I knew that words would be my refuge and words were where I could create a composite of the dreams and the life that I wanted to live,” she recalls.
Years later, the now 30-year-old moved to New York to pursue her writing career. And after coming out as a transgender woman in a 2011 Marie Claire article, Mock became an ardent advocate for other transgender women, especially those who are young and struggle financially. Her newly released memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster) delves into the self-identify struggles that many trans people face. Mock recently spoke to Mediabistro about her book and offered some advice on writing your own memoir:
Anchor yourself in your own experience and write from that place. And you’ll find your voice. You’ll find out what you want to do. You’ll find your purpose. And I think that everything comes out of that. It’s [about] being able to sit still with yourself and really excavate those parts of yourself that were shut off or silenced or put into the dark a long time ago. I know that when I actually sat down with myself to do that work… that’s when my life began transforming.
To hear more from Mock, including what her literary idol, bell hooks, thought of her book, read: So What Do You Do, Janet Mock, Writer, Transgender Advocate and Author?