signing Saturday at library
Joan Kopczynski will be signing her new book, SPIES, LIES & PSYCHOSIS, on Saturday, April 16, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Prairie Community Library in Cottonwood.
Joan’s journey has been a long one, filled with bumps and grinds. She remembers what her cousin, Dave, told her. “It takes 15 years of hard work to become an overnight success.” She now thinks that was good advice.
Joan learned perseverance. Growing up in Cottonwood, she lived below the poverty level. Her Dad, a small town electrician, made less than $10,000 a year which is unremarkable except that he had ten kids. At age eight, to make ends meet, she took on a paper route for five years. In addition to regular babysitting jobs, Joan worked as a janitor for St. Joseph’s Grade School as well as the Cottonwood Community Hall. Her parents taught her to believe a better life was out there if she just worked hard.
She started writing at age seven by writing letters to her Grandma Hoene who lived in Effingham, Illinois. In the sixth grade Joan won a State Poetry Contest, in high school a Journalism Award and a Letter Writing Award at Kinman Business University.
After graduating from Kinman, Joan worked for the CIA for five years as an Administrative Assistant, but then realized she needed a college degree to get ahead. So, at 25, Joan returned to school as a non-traditional student; however, during this period, she experienced several stressful, life-altering events which set her back; the beginning of a schizoaffective illness which overpowered her life. But, Joan didn’t let that stop her.
She graduated from Gonzaga University in 1984, returned to Washington, DC and became a struggling stockbroker where success eluded her again. Homeless for four days, she lived in a one-bedroom apartment with no furniture, slept on an airbed for two years, had little cash for food and borrowed money for doctor visits and medicine. Yet Joan continued to believe a better life was just around the corner.
Back on her feet, she worked for a defense contractor, and experienced more bad luck. The psychiatrist she was seeing opened up a pipe bomb in the mail and it blew up in his face. Joan had to switch psychiatrists. The new doctor weaned her off a drug; its absence caused full blown mania. She ran up her credit cards, thinking that she would become a millionaire from writing although she had never published, and she chased an old, indifferent boyfriend to Florida and ended up in bankruptcy. When Joan came down from her high, she felt her life was ruined.
A friend encouraged her to go back home where she would be surrounded by people who loved and cared about her. So, Joan retreated to the Northwest, tasting poverty for the third time, and still maintained that if she kept trying, she would one day realize her dream.
Ten years ago, Joan started working with a writing tutor, Robert Gover, a NY Times bestselling author from the 60s, who advised her to keep writing, because like John Grisham’s first published novel, it’s usually your fourth book that sells. Joan has been writing now for 20 years and this memoir, SPIES, LIES & PSYCHOSIS, is her first published book. It is about love and betrayal and living with the schizoaffective disorder. The book is written so that anyone can understand the challenges that a person with a mental illness faces.
Joan continues to persevere, remembering what someone once told her, “You’re only a failure if you quit trying.”