OCEAN PINES — Glancing into a mirror can be uncomfortable for many people and putting an entire life in front of one can be agonizing, if enlightening.
In her memoir, “Mirror Talk,” local author Barbara Alfaro reflects on the artistic process, the expectations of youth and taking new paths when the well-worn ones reach dead ends.
The recipient of an Indie Reader Discovery Award for best memoir, “Mirror Talk,” is the culmination of two years of writing and a lifetime of experience.
“A big theme is growing older … it’s changing one dream when it’s just not working,” said Alfaro.
“Mirror Talks” spans from Alfaro’s Catholic-influenced childhood, through a period acting and directing in the New York theatre system, up to her marriage and re-location to Ocean Pines six years ago. According to Alfaro, many of the essays that went into the memoir were written years before she even got the idea to put them into a collection.
In fact, writing a memoir came as something of a surprise, Alfaro admitted, since her literary vehicle of choice is usually poetry.
“Poetry is my main thing,” she said.
However, Alfaro said that she has always enjoyed experimenting with new outlets and besides poetry and essays has written a number of short stories, children’s books and plays, including “Dos Madres,” a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award winner.
Alfaro also spent a large piece of her younger- and middle-years acting and directing, which plays a big part in “Mirror Talks.”
“There are a lot of essays about directing,” she said.
Being involved in the New York theatre culture had a large role in her development as a person and an artist, continued Alfaro.
But Alfaro added that, as much nostalgia she feels for the Big Apple, especially her childhood haunts in Manhattan, the move to Ocean Pines is a decision that her family has been very satisfied with.
“It couldn’t be prettier or friendlier,” Alfaro said of the area, noting that it was also a lot more relaxing than the big city, which tends to help with the writing.
And, no matter the format of writing, be it plays, poetry or a memoir like “Mirror Talks,” Alfaro suggested that any writers hoping to get their words read look into self-publishing.
“The terrific thing is that it’s so affordable to do it,” she said.
While she has had poetry collections and other works published by more traditional presses, Alfaro admitted that securing an agent and finding a publisher that is willing to take a risk on a book that isn’t likely to spark a tween craze can be incredibly difficult. So Alfaro decided to take the initiative. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t I just self-publish?’” she said.
Alfaro recommends any author interested in taking the same route work through Amazon.com, either with physical publications, e-books, or both.
“They really help promote unknown authors,” she said, pointing out that e-book authors are able to take advantage of things like Kindle Direct Publishing Select, which allows them to advertise their book cheaply.
“Mirror Talk: A Memoir,” is available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle e-book. Two of Alfaro’s poetry collections are also available on the site — “First Kiss,” as a Kindle e-book only and “Singing Magic,” as a paperback only.
For more information on the author, visit www.BarbaraAlfaro.net.