This blog was featured on 11/26/2018
Michelle Obama on Her Book BECOMING
Written by
She Writes
November 2018
Written by
She Writes
November 2018

Michelle Obama’s highly anticipated memoir, Becoming has been incredibly well received and readers can't wait to get their hands on it. In fact, it rang in the biggest first-week sales of 2018, according to Barnes & Noble, and is the next book pick for Oprah’s Book Club.

With her book tour now in full-swing, we share below a little about what readers can expect, what writers can learn from the former first lady and quotes from some of the Obama’s most recent interviews.

She divides the memoir into three parts: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, Becoming More. The first section is a deep, often sociological exploration of Chicago and the people and institutions there. Its textured discussion of gentrification, public education, race and class are reminders that Obama majored in sociology and minored in African American studies at Princeton University.

The second section, Becoming Us, is a romp through her romance with Barack Obama, starting a family with him and her search for work that she loved. It begins with words that have never before been written by a first lady about her man: “As soon as I allowed myself to feel anything for Barack, the feelings came rushing – a toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.”

The third section, Becoming More, traverses their life as public figures. It contains her own view of her legacy and accomplishments as first lady and what it felt like to live under the intense scrutiny she faced. As she campaigned for her husband’s reelection in 2012, she writes that she felt “haunted” by the ways she’d been criticized and by people who had made assumptions about her based on the color of her skin.

This excerpt was originally published in The Washington Post. Read the full article here.

On Going High

 “I say: Let’s just do the work… I’d have to understand why you feel that way. I’d have to be your friend and get into your pain and hurt, your fears. And that takes time. That’s the work that needs to happen around kitchen tables and in our communities. When I say ‘go high,’ I’m not trying to win the argument. I’m trying to figure out how to understand you and how I can help you understand me.” - Excerpt from Becoming

In a discussion between Michelle Obama and Tracee Ellis Ross, a moderator on the book tour as well as an outspoken advocate for women and girls, Ross brought up Obama’s line from the 2016 Democratic convention, “When they go low, we go high,” – words that received both applause and criticism.

 “'Going high’ doesn’t mean you don’t feel the hurt, or you’re not entitled to an emotion,” she explained. “It means that your response has to reflect the solution. It shouldn’t come from a place of anger or vengefulness. Barack and I had to figure that out. Anger may feel good in the moment, but it’s not going to move the ball forward.”

She continued: “For me, when you are a public figure in power, everything you do models what you want the country to do… Responding to a dog whistle with a dog whistle is the exact opposite of what you’d teach your child to do.”

For writers, this advice can be taken directly into your career as you face your own criticism. Any time you put work out for public consumption, there's a changes you'll get negative reviews. So "go high" whenever that opportunity comes about and don't let it stop you from continue to do great things.

This excerpt was originally published in the New York Times. Read the full interview here.

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

During a Super Soul Sunday interview with Oprah, Michelle Obama talks about the title of her book, Becoming, and how she hates the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" As with her rise to becoming the 44th first lady, there is no finite time in the future where a person becomes all they are going to be.

"My journey is the journey of always evolving. There is never a point where you arrive at a thing. And if you do, that's kind of sad. If you think that there is a point in your life when you stop growing and stop learning that's sort of sad because what's left?"

The same can be said for writers. With each book, each sentence, each word even, you become more. Sometimes it's through trial and other times through triumph, but there's not pinnacle for authors. Even the bestsellers have more to learn, more ways to grow and new opportunities.

So don't be frustrated because you feel you haven't reached a finite destination in your journey. Know that every step from word one to book 50 is just a part of the trip.

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