From 2005 to 2009, I divided my time between serving customers at the dive center and guiding them in the Big Blue. Being back in central Europe at the moment, I know more than ever that life is infinitely better the more ocean I have around me. Things shift back into perspective. And I am reminded of what is truly important. Apart from being a universe of boundless beauty and tranquility, underwater is also where I began to see more clearly…
Watching coral reef life became the perfect metaphor of human daily life. For example, tiny fish who defended their territory taught me how important it is to stand up for yourself no matter how giant the opposition may seem. The myriad of reef fish and other critters in all colors of the rainbow mirrored the infinite diversity of life on land… of human life… Nothing was perfect. Life was even cruel, unpredictable.. Yet to a neutral observer like me, hovering motionless only a few feet away, observing quietly, this was the most delicate and beautiful web of individuals I had ever seen.
Then, there was the interaction amongst divers. Developing a stronger sense of self first was crucial to being able to take care of others.
When I became an instructor, teaching underwater taught me even more about life. The SCUBA instructors’ mantra “stop, think, act” turned out to be great advice no matter the situation or environment. Because, when something goes wrong during a dive or in life, it’s never just one thing but a multitude of smaller and bigger difficulties and challenges that need to be addressed and navigated. Prioritizing is key. Step by little step, we remove one obstacle after another and what seemed insurmountable at first all of a sudden becomes manageable.
My latest contribution on TheatreArtLife. Remembering when I immersed myself in a Hong Kong Chinese theatre production. I worked backstage, with barely a clue what was going on. It was an unforgettable experience. Because, as I mention in the short story as well, there is nothing more valuable than opening your mind, letting go of everything you think you know, and thoroughly exposing yourself to living and working in a foreign culture.
Today, it was announced that Paralian won not just one, but two more book awards. This makes five altogether!
Over the moon doesn’t even begin to cover how delighted I felt when I saw the email this morning. Over the galaxies was more like it (and this after I had almost deleted said email, thinking it was spam).
Both latest awards have been bestowed by the Independent Authors Network. Thank you so much for this honor!
1st Award is 2nd Place in their main category,
“Book of the Year”!!!
2nd Award is for “Outstanding Non-Fiction”
I am especially glad that these two as well as the last award were ‘mainstream’ book awards. Finally, Paralian was recognized as a high quality non-fiction book, an outstanding memoir – not just in the LGBT niche but in general. And rightly so, because this is an entire life journey. It’s always been important to me to emphasize that my story is not just about being transgender. It is a big and important part of it, yes. But at its core, Paralian is a story about being human, facing adversity, and finding your place in this world.
As JJ Marsh wrote for Bookmuse UK a little while ago “It is the extraordinary tale of an exceptional life. Any one of the barbed wire fences Klenk has overcome might be enough to define an average person, but this journey is as far from average as can be imagined.
Born into the wrong body, adopted by dysfunctional parents, battling spasticity, marrying for convenience, living as an agnostic with Mormons, undergoing gender reassignment, suffering heartbreak and embracing career changes while digging deep for a true identity, this is an epic journey. An odyssey.”
Paralian is a true story everyone can identify with if they just dive into the adventure and open the book to the first page…
The perfect moment. Sunshine. A group of delighted scuba divers whom I had guided throughout the morning. Jackfish. Chilli Sauce. Sand as soft a velvet. Palm Trees. A blazing azure sky and turquoise sea all around us.
I enjoyed myself. Enjoyed to guide, coach, and drink in our surroundings with all my senses. It didn’t really matter who we all were that day. Social status, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation and all those things tending to divide us, gave way to simply breathing in the untainted tropical air and enjoying life together. Just for a little while, yesterday and tomorrow became so insignificant as to be non-existent.
My 2nd book will be a fun, deep, and inspiring read all at the same time… A collection of stories about the animal companions I had throughout my life.
The very first was Gulliver, a little mouse who taught me a lot. So currently, the working title is “Word of Mouse”. Because that’s how it all began…
Each chapter will tell a special story about each of the animals and the impact they had on my life. The lessons I learned.
I’ll be the narrator, but in a sense it is as much or even more about the animals than it is about me.
Readers will be able to enjoy the true stories either as a collection of unusual animal tales…
Or, if they want to think deeper, they will quickly realize that the book is about life, about being human, and about the life lessons we can learn if we open our minds and hearts to the world around us.
It’ll still take up to a year to finish writing and editing, and get the book published.
Watch this space. I’ll share anecdotes, and I’ll keep you updated on my progress and the adventures of trying to find a publisher and/or literary agent!
“Our relationship had grown like a table coral – and still did. Tree-like, it fanned out, each tiny branch connecting to others to build a magnificent structure – tough and brittle at the same time.
Both of us knew how easily such a delicate formation could break. For the first time, however, I was confident to have found a partner who was as committed to our common cause as I was. We were different in so many ways, yet together our universe expanded. We challenged and supported each other in equal measure.” (Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 33)
… And five years later, we’re still braving life’s turbulences together.
Thank you for being the beautiful soul you are. Thank you for being in my life.
So, here is the plan for the coming months:
After a short summer time writing sabbatical, I’ll re-double my efforts. From now on, I’ll hole up in this cozy space for most of my spare time, to continue writing my 2nd book “Word of Mouse”.
A friend of mine (who happens to be a phenomenally talented artist) has agreed to work on drawings for the book cover as well as for the title pages of each chapter. I have no idea how he will interpret what I have written. And I must admit, it’s exciting not knowing at this point. Can’t wait to be surprised by his designs…
As for the first draft, I am aiming to have it finished by December 2017 at the latest. Then, beginning of next year, I’ll start editing…
In the next few months, I’ll also start contacting publishers and agents. I am very curious if I’ll manage to find someone this time who will be interested in representing me. If not, I’ll just publish independently again. I certainly won’t give up. This is what I am meant to be doing. So watch this space my friends. I’ll share more about content and process as time goes by…