There was a process to the writing of my story, “Whatever Good May Come”. Like most things in life that are worthwhile to do and have there was a price paid. I’m often asked about this process, the emotional work as well as the physical.
Denise and I began with a series of recorded interviews. We filled up seventeen 90 minute tapes over many months of conversations. She would come by once a week and we would talk. Her questions directed our talks which when transcribed proved to have been complete. She had such a gentle manner I never felt violated by her questions. Yet everything was in the transcript. The entire unvarnished truth of me.
The next step Denise prewrote the chapters using my words from the transcript. She took over 800 pages of words, tossed out the redundancies, providing direction as to how the story would be written.
The first pre-written chapter consisted of thirteen double spaced pages dealing with the early years of my life. For me the opening paragraph if a chapter is always the hardest to write. Once I get my writers feet wet I’m off.
Denise’s prewritten direction refreshed my mind bring back with vivid detail screens and events from my past. When I wrote I was transported back to an uncomfortable time and place. Back into the painful, helpless childhood I’d had to endure. Returning was hard but very healing. I returned as an adult with the mind and heart of a mature woman. No longer the helpless child to be used and abused at the whims of the perverted adults in my life. As an adult I was able to separate myself from the abuse, able to place the blame exactly where it belonged. As a child I had taken responsibility for the abuse, as an adult I could see it was not my fault.
As soon as I had finished writing my first chapter, Denise did some copy-edit work on it. She was touching my soul, messing with my words. I fell apart and cried. She backed off the copy-edit work, or at least did not show it to me until we were much further along with the writing. By the time I was finished writing my story it had become such old news to me, I could not believe it would be interesting to anyone else must less of any value for anyone but maybe me.
Denise was then able to do her job without any discomfort for me. She also had to encourage me that it was a good project. I remember she said once, I should think of my book as a bowel of rice I’d been eating day after day for nearly four years. It was old and rancid for me. This is not how it would be for other people. Writing my story allowed me to comb through my early life with a fine tooth comb. I was so familiar with it by the time I was done writing I had to set it down for nearly a year so it could freshen up a bit for me.
Writing my story I processed thorough my life, learn things about myself and best of all forgave myself. Once this process is finished the sensitivity to having my words messed with was all but gone.
I felt strongly about the integrity of what I wrote. It was my story, no one else could tell it but me. That said, the cutting and slashing that is part of the polishing of a work was not painful by the end of my project. I was as much a part of the polishing of my work as was Denise. We did not agree on everything, the final word on what would be included was mine.
My advice for what it is worth is, do your project. Write your book. This is a gift you will give to yourself. After you are done then decide if you want to make it public.