As the deadline looms to get my memoir on the catalogue for 2016-17 release, I’m flooded with doubt.
What should I omit for the sake of not offending people?
Who have I inadvertently omitted?
How will I drum up an email base of potential readers in the next may many months and increase my platform?
And as I’ve continue plugging along, enjoying the beautiful Alaskan summer, the answers have come indirectly.
It was watching the movie Straight Outta Compton and reading some of the related blistering social network frenzy that answered the first one. The film gives a pulsating lesson in history from the perspective of rap star Dr. Dre. It is magnificent in it’s re-telling of a few talented artists emerging from gang life in the late 80’s.
Several women who were intimately involved with Dr. Dre decades earlier recently got in touch. They shared their stories being victimized by him, suffering injuries, humiliation, and trauma that never resolved. Where were they in his version of truth?
My take on the matter was he was not lying or attempting to gloss over the ugly reality of his violence against women back in the day. Women weren’t important to the men of rap. They weren’t on equal footing, not considered cherished partners, not given the respect that they deserved. They were objects for pleasure. And that they didn’t matter in the 80’s to the men of rap meant they matter much in the re-telling of the story. Just because something happens doesn’t mean it’s a part of the story-teller’s journey. This I know after many classes and edits.
(These women’s stories are important, and they should share them when and how they see fit.)
The point was driven home to me a second time. While I was clearing my room’s clutter last week I found a file box that was shoved way back in my closet. I opened it. Letters, cards, all that I must have opened at some point, were piled in no particular order. Some were from 1985, when I found my biological father and left college friends in Washington to meet him and the rest of my Kentucky family.
Some were from 1992, when I graduated from college. “Congratulations. You’re life is finally about to get easier!” This, after living in the shelter, after restraining orders to keep me and my girls safe, after living off food stamps. Now, I was about to see the fruits of my labor.
I cringed, reading these, knowing I would have less than two years of semi-normal before my girls were kidnapped and taken to Greece.
Then, the kidnapping cards. From my clients at the battered women shelter. From friends. From community members who read about my little girls being snatched by their non-custodial father in the newspaper. The sad part? I don’t remember having read these beautiful expressions of concern. I was too engulfed in sadness. And since I didn’t remember them, I couldn’t include them in my present-tense story. (But I am truly grateful now!)
I also dated a wonderful man through much of the two year trauma, but he didn’t make any of story. My true focus was never him, it was finding my girls.
So what belongs in my story? It’s my truth. What happened that transformed my life. Not every fact. My journey and it’s aftermath. And inevitably, someone will object.
And platform? I’ve written a mini-book, When Push Comes to Shove, that’s available soon! It will answer your questions on how to help when someone you care about is being abused.
What’s helped you clarify your story?
Thanks for stopping by.