Bassey Ikpi, Author of "I'm Telling the Truth, but I'm Lying: Essays"
I'm Jim Taylor skinner. And this is the electorate on this episode. I have a conversation with Bossy. Igby author of the New Book of Essays Titled. And telling the truth. But I'm lying. It's a memoir in essay form that guides the reader through what it's like to live with bipolar disorder and anxiety and this is one of the most arresting beautiful collections of essays. Ever ride in a really really long time. As soon as this collection of essays was published. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller and it went into. Its second printing the day that it was released so I was really honored to have the opportunity to have this conversation with Bossy. Igby we open our conversation with my describing my reaction to the book and my deep emotional connection to it. So here's my conversation with Bossy. Igby start by describing my relationship to your book and I don't remember exactly how I became aware of your both and if someone recommended it to me or I read something typically a have these books that I read for work or for the podcast and I have another category of books that I just kind of reach for pleasure and so your book fell into that latter category. I was just going to read it through the holidays and you know just kind of enjoying myself so when I started reading it I wasn't prepared. You know I I was taking back in. My first thought was who wrote this and at the time. I didn't know that it was a bestseller right. I was truly stunned. That the head and the and the vulnerability you have when you talk about your experiences with bipolar disorder anxiety and then I became this really annoying person and I just started carrying the book around in my purse. So whenever somebody would invite me out for you know for drinks or for Coffee. I pull the copy of the book out from my purse and I'd say. Have you read this book because it's really incredible because there were just so many people in my life that I thought would benefit from reading it would grow and we'd get some some meaning from it right? Oh that's so cool. It's okay I'm always interested in knowing how people find it because I'm never sure if it's just like the interviews or I don't know how any of this stuff works so hearing that is really amazing. Thank you know the thing that stands out to me. Most is the language right the poetic language right. Because you're a poet right more or less more or less more or less right and I read somewhere. It was probably an interview with you that this book was not the book that you started out writing. This was the book that you originally intended to write that you thought he'd write something like a self help book this kind of a kind of a typical piece of nonfiction. And I have to tell you. I'm so glad that you did not write that book and that you wrote this when you talk about what the evolution for. You was like getting from that first book to what you eventually published. What was that evolution for you like? I have friends who who say that. I've been trying or wanting or speaking about writing this particular book for as long as they've known me like going back ten fifteen plus years and It's true that is a conversation I've had but when I was given the opportunity presented with the opportunity to write a book in Two Thousand Sixteen I went through one of the worst depressive episodes of my life and what I realized now looking back is that I have been in this spectrum of of depression or a mixed episode describing the book for almost a decade if not more and I was only a little bit better meaning not as depressed and when I got to two thousand sixteen. The year I turned forty everything. Hit me like a train and I realized that I was in the space where I didn't want to try anymore. I was exhausted with it. In dumb I spiralled in this way that I was a hundred percent not one hundred percent. I'm still here but I at say a large percent like eighty percents certain that I didn't want to be in this world anymore and I started slowly preparing my friends and my family and my therapist for the possibility that I wouldn't be here by the time my birthday came around or even a little bit afterwards and one of the things that I wanted to do was to have always wanted to do as a writer is to write a book and I was also thinking very practically in that. This is revenue for my for my child and my my family. My siblings this is you know this is something that they can collect on In my mind I had this. I'm not really worth a lot right now. But if I'm dead and I have a book then all this stuff is going to be perfect. The new rational irrational Is what I refer to it as but I didn't want to write that book. I wanted to write something different. I wanted it to be a super soul Sunday type of motivational kind of this is what I've learned in going through all of this. Is that these little lessons. I've taken from it and I hope that it helps somebody else then. I struggled to write that book because it was false. But it's a book that we sold When I eventually got an agent so I felt like I had to write that book but I struggled so hard and I was very fortunate to have the editor at Harpercollins. Aaron wicks who saw that. I was struggling and had said to me when we had our initial interview before I decided to sign the contract that she wanted me to be sure. I was ready to go there. And when you when you WANNA book contract when you want anything like Asu Xiaobo that whatever you know what I mean like sign me. I'm going to do that but I didn't know what she meant until about a year into the process and I'm struggling writing all the stuff that I don't like that I don't connect to. I'm I'm having this real conflict with the things that were going on in my in my life in my mind and I remember I was in New York for a couple of weeks to just rights. I figured I needed a change of scenery. Something had to give and I met with her and I was really honest with her. No no what happened before that was that I wrote like a war I it was the first thing I wrote in this new thing I was I I wanted to To free myself. I wanted to see if if I got it out of my system if I wrote these different ways and wrote it the way that it was coming to me in in different points of views and in different perspectives and different tenses. And really playing. With the Genera of non-fiction. If I got that out of my system maybe the other book would show up and then on top of that I was also like I said in two thousand sixteen writing these notes and letters to my friends and family Explaining to them how difficult it has been my entire life to exist in this way And I was trying to show them that that I done the best that I could invade more importantly they had done the best they could because this is all the things that I was contending with that they didn't even know about. So how could they have possibly known but now I'm telling them right? Those are two separate projects so when I decided that I was having trouble writing the book because there was something else that needed to be written I went to my to my editor with with with like a war with the one that eventually became to Hootie and with The one that's That's the really long one in the middle that's broken up into. I don't know anything's called hangs titles so much but the one that's broken down into like time. Increments I wrote those three and I presented the to her and she was like do this. Whatever this is forget what we were doing before right. Whatever you feel I can. I will figure it out as far as you know punctuation The way that the words come out whether or not the diction needs to be fixed like just write it and figure it out and once she gave me the freedom that permission it just it was I just I just took it and ran and this book combined with those letters and notes. South riding to my friends and family. All of that came together. This is what this is. What happened is a very long answer.