New York Times editor’s The Big Thing features Wide Awake & Dreaming: A Memoir of Narcolepsy

the big thing phyllis korkki narcolepsy memoir julie flygare

I’m SO honored that New York Times writer and editor, Phyllis Korkki features my story in her new book The Big Thing: How to Complete Your Creative Project Even If You’re a Lazy, Self-Doubting Procrastinator Like Mepublished by Harper on August 9, 2016. Never in a million years did I imagine that Wide Awake and Dreaming would be featured in another book. As a result, thousands of people who read The Big Thing will learn a bit about narcolepsy!

The Big Thing illuminates the factors that drive people to complete big creative projects, from memoirs to art instillations and musical works, to theater productions, small businesses and charities. The book offers practical insights anyone can use to get started on their own creative projects.

the big thing bookshelfWhen The Big Thing came out, I drove to Barnes & Noble during my lunch break and delicately plucked a bright new hardcover copy off the shelf. My hands shook slightly as I skimmed through the crisp pages. Within seconds, I found “my section” (pg. 59-62 to be exact) and time stood still. I ran my fingers over the printed words to confirm that this was really happening.

the big thing phyllis korkki wide awake and dreaming julie flygare

I’ve described on this blog some of the challenges I faced in publishing my book: Editing and proof-reading were extremely challenging with narcolepsy. I would enter a sleepy haze while working and eventually fall asleep. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember how far I’d gotten before my consciousness fizzled, so I’d go back 5 or 10 pages to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Progress was slow.

To be honest, publishing this book was one of the hardest experiences of my life, probably second to getting narcolepsy. This process brought me to my knees and then kicked me harder. It gutted me – emotionally and financially.

julie-flygare-book-interview-narcolepsy-memoir-wide-awake-and-dreaming-forward-motion-karen-allen-tv-1I admitted here: Two weeks after I published my memoir, on January 1, 2013, I had $1 in my bank account. My only bank account. I literally spent my last pennies to publish my book (editor, layout and cover design). That month, my phone was shut off, my car was almost taken by the bank and my credit damaged for years to come.

I didn’t write this book because it was easy or fun.

I wrote it because I literally couldn’t imagine my life without it. No matter how hard it got, I hungered for this story to exist outside of me more than I’d ever wanted anything in my life.

In The Big Thing, I share a few tips for how I managed to finish my “big thing” despite the daily challenges of living with narcolepsy. Ironically, I recently rediscovered a “note-to-self” that I’d written to myself in 2012:

julie flygare note to self

Saying YES to my book meant saying NO to many other worthy projects and priorities. This remains my key to success:

1. having clear personal and professional goals, and

2. prioritizing my time and energy with laser-focus on accomplishing those goals.

To do this, I post my three biggest three-month goals on my bathroom mirror so that I see them daily. I find that three months is long enough so that I set bold goals, but short enough so that I have to get moving quickly.

What is your BIG THING? What creative or out-of-the-box projects are you trying to accomplish? How do you stay focused and on target? 

In closing, thank you to Phyllis Korkki for including me in this important project. I’m SO grateful and excited to go back and read the whole book now!


  1. Gail Pean on August 23, 2016 at 2:34 am

    Congratulations Julie!! You are an inspiration to all to complete their creative projects and follow their muse.

  2. Jennifer S. on August 23, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    I truly can’t even begin to imagine how insanely AMAZING this must feel to you! From the bottom of my heart–CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!

  3. Mia on August 28, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Congratulations and Thank you!
    Wish you all the best
    I will definately get myself a hard copy!
    // Mia

  4. Indie on August 29, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    This is your calling for sure!

    What a great achievement & contribution for others!

    Well done!

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