question: very quick answer

I have a question.  With your frank discussion and “nothing to hide” attitude towards the unhappy times of your past, I wonder:

If your current marriage were to also become unhappy, would you be honest about it in “real-time”? The emergence of your blog (and subsequent book) seems to be an “I changed my life” story.

Do you feel obligated to maintain an “all is rosy” position from now on?  It seems like you are banking your future on the success of the “re-do”. What if you found out that the hedge fund manager has a penchant for hookers, or the love life gets boring?

Are you addicted to the “Stephanie: The success story” or do you have a healthy perspective and distance between the real you and the “public” you?  Clearly, you either enjoy the notoriety of being the SUAD girl or your career positioning simply demands it

This is not meant as an attack.  I’d love to see if you are willing to answer the question.

To which I respond: I absolutely feel that pressure to be the happy ending. No question about it. I mean, how successful could a memoir about addiction recovery be if after a few years the author relapsed, right? That’s essentially what you’re asking. And I’m answering.

We’re all human. I think after reading Moose, if you read Moose, you’ll see that I really don’t make it about a happy ending. Though I suppose to look at how far I’ve come, that’s the happy ending. I have absolutely turned to friends and said, “will people still like me, trust me, want my advice, if I split up with Phil?” Or if I were to gain more weight, would people stop caring? And intellectually, I know that people don’t read me for my happy ending. They read, I assume, because I’m honest, real, sometimes funny, and I make people think. Do I have all the answers? No. But does that change any of the advice I included in my books? Hell, no. Besides, it’s not about knowing the advice; it’s about living it. And I’m doing the best I can; and that’s enough.

COMMENTS:

  1. Like Carrie Bradshaw, where there is no "Sex and the City" column without her love failures, can there be a "Stephanie Klein" without her triumphs?

    I just hope (for your sake) you don't make your new career 100% dependent on introspection and self-elevation. Making a career out of one's self is a slippery slope.

    FROM SK: Good thing my next books are fiction. Though I'm sure another memoir is in me. Sometimes it's nice to mix things up a bit and show people (including myself) what we're made of.

  2. Rock on, Stephanie- I read your blog because it's interesting and well written and occasionally- you nail a topic so right on that it completely blows me away. I think subconsciously I'm rooting for a happy ending for you but I think maybe living your life with the courage and honesty that you do- that's the happy ending we should all be seeking.

  3. AMEN. I understand feeling pressure about living up to what your write, not nearly on your scale since I don't have any books, but I think like LIFE we feel pressure to LIVE UP to things we say or do, back up our stories…but in the end. We change, life changes, opinions and feelings, FORMS, all change and nothing (even the things we right) stay that way forever. I like the REALness plus, you already have a success story and life isn't alwayyyys a "success story" though success is all a perspective I think :)

  4. If it turned out that Phil was into hookers and you gained 50 lbs., I'm confident that the result would be your third book, entitled something along the lines of "The Hedgehog, His Hookers & the Heavy".

  5. I bought your book today. I don't read memoirs for happy endings – I switch to fiction for those. Honestly, I just like your writing. I imagine there are a good number of us who root for you because we feel as if we know you through this blog. I've ventured into the comments section before and the ppl who follow you and defend you in a stalkerish way may be living vicariously through you and need a happy ending, but some of us simply love that you write so well and are willing to share your life with us.

  6. I think you are already a happy ending. From where you were 4 or 5 years ago, to where you are now, I'd say that qualifies. Isn't life like a book anyway? A series of chapters filled with highs and lows? I don't think anyone can take away your happy ending for this chapter of your life no matter what happens in the future.

  7. Hi! Just got home after attending your launch party / reading tonight. You looked great and the beans are so adorable in person. I now have my own copy of Moose planted next to my bedside and am going to start it tonight! Can't wait. The excerpts you read were so funny. You're inspiring! Best of luck with the tour!

  8. Hi! Just got home after attending your launch party / reading tonight. You looked great and the beans are so adorable in person. I now have my own copy of Moose planted next to my bedside and am going to start it tonight! Can't wait. The excerpts you read were so funny. You're inspiring! Best of luck with the tour!

  9. Hi! Just got home after attending your launch party / reading tonight. You looked great and the beans are so adorable in person. I now have my own copy of Moose planted next to my bedside and am going to start it tonight! Can't wait. The excerpts you read were so funny. You're inspiring. Best of luck with the tour!

  10. I totally understand the question, but moreso the answer. Of course the past is always easier to write about. Not only is it easier to say "okay this is what i went through, but look at me now" but its also easier to end in the right place because you know the ending! But that doesnt make it impossible to talk about "now", which is what you do everyday on your blog. Yes you have your posts where you talk about the sweet side of things, but you still have no problem sharing your rough moments with your readers. So to answer your question to your friend on whether your readers will still trust you if you gain weight or your marriage fails: Of course they will. People love your writing because they see themselves in you. It's a one way conversation where you can admit your flaws while we silently agree. So to go through something like a divorce or weight gain would show people how real you are, how normal they are, and how important it is for us to know that.

  11. Failing at the fabulousness that is mostly (and most often) me, represented by the sex and the boys and the musicians and the happy with me as I am right now refelcted in my blog pages keeps me from devouring an entire bag of chips. It's the sometimes battle royale, perceived sexy me versus everyday blister-on-my-sole-from-strappy-shoes-hungover-during-the-week-condom-still-in-the-wrapper-me.

    Look forward to “Moose”, Moose.

  12. That same failing at the fabulousness that is mostly (and most often) me and represented by the sex and the boys and the musicians and the happy in my blog pages keeps me from devouring an entire bag of chips. Can feel like a battle royale, perceived sexy me versus everyday blister-on-my-sole-from-strappy-shoes-hungover-during-the-week-condom-in-the-wrapper-me.

    Look forward to “Moose”, Moose.

  13. I think people read you because you're relatable- NOT for the happy ending. Good or bad, you tell it and most of your stuff, many of your readers can empathize with. I think it humanizes you more actually when you are going through some sort of rough time. If you were always in the throws of that "happy ending"- I think people would STOP reading. People tune in to see what happns next- not to make sure you're thin or your marriage is going along swimmingly.

    There are many people rooting for you, so yes, we're happy when you're happy. But, there's also the reader contingent of "misery loves company" so it's nice that you have a realistic balance of both in here. Personally, your balance is perfect for me- some good, some whiny, some funny, some irrational, some happy, some melancholy- you could be me or one of my friends on any given day. THAT is what people that are "fans" of yours are into.

  14. First, let me say that I hope you had a wonderful day full of happiness and excitement on this book release day. I'm so excited that my copy of Moose will be here tomorrow.

    And now to the question at hand. Are you content to be the happy ending? That is probably *the" thing that keeps me from writing my memoir. Oh, the idyllic life growing up. Oh, the fulfillment of the "perfectly married with children" life. Oh, the angst of having it all fall apart, and oh, the satisfaction of having rebuilt it all into the wonderful thing it is now. And, gee whiz, by golly, holy shit and god damn the realization that life is ridiculously fragile, and that what is currently perfect could be squished like a bug tomorrow.

    I admire your strength in not having to put a happy ending on every post – of leaving things ragged and uncomfortable sometimes. My tendency is to want to tidy it all up, put a beautiful bow on it and spritz it with a lovely scent. But that's not life. Life is irregular, unpredictable and uneven. You are honest and delightful.

    You go, girl.

  15. Great post. And I agree with those above… I would read your blog regardless of what happened.
    I am very jealous of those that get to meet you in person. I wish I could make it to a reading, but alas I am in Oklahoma and can't get away from school… :(

    Must say this: "The Hedgehog, His Hookers & the Heavy" made me laugh! Thank you Barbara E!! :)

  16. What an honest response. And, truly, if a person who wrote a memoir about beating addiction and then later relapsed, it wouldn't take away from the memoir, as written. Memoirs aren't self-help books, they aren't sold on the "success" merits of the writer, but rather about telling a story or journey that's true and honest. I'd say there's more of an expectation of a "happy ending" in novel, too – since the characters are fictionalized, you kind of need that overarching theme/success story to keep the plot meaningful. But, with memoirs, the journey is the story, with less emphasis on the final chapter. That's the great thing about memoirs; there's always room for a Part Two.

  17. I'm in the "tell it all, as ugly as it is" camp. I use my blog as a way to get it out there, especially since I'm disabled now and don't get the chance to get out amongst the real people as much as I would like. I need to tell it all, the good and the bad. And like you, so far there isn't really a happy ending. There are happy times, of course, but those always end.

    I've never posted much about my ex and our relationship because it was so long ago and I'm SOOOO over it, but if someone wanted to know, I sure would. In technicolor!

    I was telling my therapist today about Moose, which I finished this weekend, and I talked about how the ending was so real. It wasn't the "and I had twins and we all lived happily ever after" that so many books have. God, as a MOT, believe me, twins are never gonna make you live happily ever after. They might drive you into the asylum though! I love that your book was so honest, and it was painful for me as a reader to read, even though I wasn't a 'fat kid'. But my parents, so much like your parents (what IS IT with Jewish parents) were totally obsessed with my weight and my father was so much like your father in the comments that I literally got pains reading Moose. It made me breathless because it was so freaking honest. It's a wonderful book!

    I think the balance that you present, happy, sad, angry, frustrated, funny… all of it is just you. So don't stop being yourself, please!

  18. Stephanie,

    Congratulations on the new release! I'm so excited for you and hope that I can get to your reading this Friday! Will you have Phil or the beans there with you?

    By the way, no matter what happens, I'd still be reading! I love your writing.. your successes, your failures.. whatever it may be.

  19. Just started reading MOOSE and I have to tell you I am blown away by how far your writing has come. Before I read you for the writing but mostly because your take on things and turn of a phrase made me think. Made me consider things I had kept bottled. Moose is so much more than that. I'm only in chapter three but you have drawn me in with your pace. Your descriptions and the content of your memories. I don't want it to end and I'm just starting!.

  20. I was at your reading and party tonight and had a great time. Thank you for having it. I met a lot of cool people there but maybe that was the Tito's Vodka line…

    Can't wait to sit down with Moose. Again, awesome party. I think I might tour you like The Grateful Dead.

  21. Congratulations on the release! I bought Moose today and cannot wait to start reading it!

    I think your answer (as other people have said) was perfect. I for one definitely read your blog (and your books) for your honesty, your realness, your humor and the way you make me think… all the things you mentioned. Things I am certainly grateful for.

    I will say, though, in this light, it did bother me (as I think I've mentioned before) that I found SUAD in the "self-help" section in the book store. As much as it helped me, and others, it seemed a bit odd to me to find it there.

    You have so much to offer, Stephanie. I understand that you feel pressure to be the "happy ending" but please know that your loyal fans love you for your honesty and openness, not your "all is rosy" attitude (although we are of course rooting for you along the way.) Thank you for all that you do. Again, congratulations!

  22. What a brave question to answer. I love that about you, that you're willing to put yourself out there, the good and the not-so-rosy.

    And I can't wait until your reading at Torrid in Arlington tomorrow!!! I'll be there; I actually have a job interview at the same mall at 4pm, so I hope I get a chance to chat/get a picture with you!

    Congratulations.

  23. I started reading your blog after I ran across Straight Up and Dirty. I think I started reading it because I wanted to see what happened to you. Not to see if you gained any weight, or even remarried for that matter. Oh and I started Moose today, so far so good. Congrats Stephanie, you're living the dream.

  24. Moose isn't out in Australia yet. Toying whether I need to buy it on Amazon… I can't wait to hear the first few reviews from those of you who have it!

    Stephanie – keep doing what you do, keep being true to yourself. That's all that matters.

  25. First let me say Congrats on the book release!! So excited for you!! And can't wait to meet you next week!
    I think you answered that question with the same honesty that I see here in your blog. And that honesty, your willingness to put it all out there is why I read it. I am in awe at your ability to be that honest, to share all the ups and downs, ins and outs of your life. All the good and sometimes the bad. Things I cannot imagine sharing with the world. I certainly don't think you are all about the "happy ending" although I wish only happiness for you, it is about the journey and that is what I see in your writing. Its your willingness to share with others that journey, and what you have learned along the way. You are the real deal girl! And that realness is what I think brings so many of us here and so many are reading your memoirs.

    You make me think and examine my own life in different ways. And all of this helps make me a better writer. I am learning many things from you and that is one of them….

  26. I'm with Plantation.
    You already have your happy (no need for the word ending). Should your happy, for whatever reason, come to an end… I'm guessing you would just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and carry right on with your head held high!
    Nobody can take away what you have now. Nobody is perfect, but your life seems pretty damn near, and you will always have that. The fact that you're willing to share (some of) the downs is what makes it seem real.
    I personally don't trust the people with the "perfect" lives and the permanent perfect smiles… there's almost something sinister about clinging on to the perfect image and never, ever having a bad day.

    As for people liking you, trusting you and still asking for your advice… If you're asking for directions, do you turn to someone who's been down that road a hundred times or someone who's just holding a map?

  27. I read your writings for the way you write not for what you write about. If the subject has got the "Klein" on it, i'm probably going to read it.

  28. There's always the thought that we teach best what we most need to learn. To an extent I feel like I read you now because of that unrealistic thought that Wil Wheaton (I think he's the most recent person I read to have mentioned it) and others have expressed – I feel like I know you. There's almost this connection because I have watched your life unfold for the last few years, more if you count the archive reading. Hard to just stop reading once you get to know a person. ;-) Oh, plus you have an rss feed. :-)

  29. I think it says a lot about our culture that a new marriage and giving birth to twins is perceived as an ending at all. Sounds like a happy beginning to me. It's been a while since I read it, but I think the happy ending to SUAD was you finding yourself rather than a man or a family.

    Is the story over? Hell no! Defining yourself in the context of marriage, motherhood and career is just as important to many, many women. Hence the seventy-bajillion "mommy blogs" (horrible term) out there. There's a huge audience for that story no matter what twists and turns it takes.

  30. "Besides, it's not about knowing the advice; it's about living it. And I'm doing the best I can; and that's enough.": I think that IS your happy ending – reaching this point of understanding in your life. And it's what makes you relatable. Who can relate to someone who's life is perfect (which I don't believe exists)? It's your honesty, your spirit and how you approach and think about the events – good or bad – in your life that draw me to your writing – not any need for a happy ending. Just keep writing :)

  31. (…full standing ovation). Way to go Steph. My honest opinion, anyone who asks the question (and it was more than just a question), I feel should (a) quit reading your Blog; (b) take a hard look in their own sand box before they take our their beach bucket and desire to play in yours; and (c) familiarize themselves (whole heartedly) with the word "projection!" What I don't get is – why do they subject themselves to 'you' if they don't agree with, like or GET (operative word) what/who you are and what you're all about. That attitude coincides with those who can't stomach the likes of Howard Stern (and you know I'm not comparing), then refuse to change the channel/station when they have that option. Seriously – take a hard look at your own life before you pass judgment anywhere than in your own backyard. And…truthfully, I wish I had MORE friends like you in my circle (as well as when I was growing up), because I cherish my "Judge Judy" friends more than the ones who candy coat everything with the sweet sticky sh*t everyone thinks they want to hear, especially when it comes to themselves!!! God Bless you my friend! H – out!

  32. Stephanie,
    I so appreciate your candid answer … I can imagine that it is something you spend some serious time thinking about.
    As someone who is married for the second time, to her *dream man*, and has lost well over 100 pounds in the last 2 years, I absolutely understand the pressure to stick with the happy ending – keeping my marriage alive (which is tough sometimes after a decade) and to keep the weight off. Will attitudes change if I fail? Will I become less respectable?
    I hope not, but after one divorce I know that things would change … and I would be fine – in the long run. Regaining the weight would be MUCH harder on me and while I would care what others thought, I would feel like hell because I felt like hell when I was 100 pounds overweight.
    That said, I don't think I would write about the demise of my marriage on my blog … too revealing for me. But who know what I would do when I got to that point.

  33. I think people should look at your experience from the past as an inspiration. Whatever you do in the future, should be up to you, and you shouldn't be obliged to live your future according to people's wants and expectations. You have given great interpretations of the challeneges you have faced and how you have overcome it, and I just believe that people should relate themselves to those challenges in order for them to find inspiration to deal with their own challenges, however big or different they are..
    You're an idol!

  34. Congratulations on the book release! Just received my copy and can't wait to dig in! :-)

    Um, what happy ending? Every ending becomes a beginning. (I may have stolen that from you- don't remember) ;-)

    As a woman who has struggled (struggles?) with the whole happily-ever-after-syndrome I know that's fairy tales. Your fans are your fans because of your gut-honesty and talented writing.(I'm summing up what I could turn into a thesis)

    Your talent would be there regardless of the white-picket-fence, two kids in the yard and happy marriage beginning.

    I think you answered it perfectly. :-)

    3T
    PS. Still jealous of the states that get to meet you.

  35. If your purpose is to help people by giving them advice and pretending the know the answers, then yes, I think you'd lose credibility. But if you're trying to help people by being honest, being real, and maybe helping them to be honest with themselves, then I think no, people won't stop caring. But why entertain the possibility that you could split up with your husband? I hope you're both in this forever. :)

  36. I think Cori said it well "I think it says a lot about our culture that a new marriage and giving birth to twins is perceived as an ending at all. Sounds like a happy beginning to me." So true. That's how I always looked at it. You had a full life and then met Phil who added to that. And another comment made by Plantation was that life is chapters filled with highs and lows. The concept of a happy ending is relative anyway; what is valued and considered successful is subjective.

    I think your writing has been consistently genuine. You've shared the successes but also the excruciatingly painful moments as well. I doubt you'd start sugar coating things this late in the game. It seems fair to say most of us who keep returning to your blog and buying your books want to see you do well. If anything negative happened in your relationship you'd get through it like you have in the past. You'd adapt.
    Personally I like how your blog has evolved in the last few years. Instead of becoming a dreaded mommy blog you've maintained your voice while writing about motherhood. I'm a mother and I still don't like the 'mommy blog' label as I think it pigeonholes writers and limits them. It seems you've become a mother and maintained your identity and a career.

    I understand Heather thinking this anonymous question is somewhat hostile; it's almost insinuating your success is so tenuous that some personal drama would tip the scales. I think your writing style is so well developed in Moose. SUAD was so different and it's neat to see how you have changed as a writer. That said, anyone who has read the books as well as the blog can see that something like a change in your relationship status won't have much of an effect on your future. The foundation has been created already.

    Anyway I know you were in Austin the other day and I wish I could have seen you read. My dear nana passed away on Monday. It's been a difficult few days.

    Enjoy what is left of your tour and I know you will keep winning over readers with just being yourself. I look forward to finishing Moose as well.

  37. This is the first time I'm leaving a comment but I've got to say this…
    I read your blog the same way I call up a friend to hear her news. It doesn't matter if it's tragic, if it's funny, if it's boring or if it's disappointing… I wanna know what's going on! I'm happy when good things are happening to you and I'm anxious when you are going through difficult times.

    Life isn't about the happy endings (even though that's what we all pray for)… novels are. Life is about the journey – and that's what makes memoirs what they are.

    Your's is the only blog I actually read on a weekly (at times daily) basis. I wish you nothing but the best… but even if the worst should come to you, I will still be here reading faithfully!!

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