I knew how I wanted to write my memoir from the start. I wanted the reader to know on the first page that I was okay and that I made it through, so I started four years after the death of my loved one when I was planting flowers in the yard of my brand new house; then I went back and told of my loss. I took all the suspense away and perhaps I broke a writing rule, but – too bad – that’s what I felt I needed to do for the sake of the reader.
Why? Because when I was in the pit of grief and needed a book on how to get better, I picked up one memoir and started reading about the author’s loss and how she existed in a fetal position for a year and how she couldn’t do anything to move forward. I couldn’t finish the book. And to top it off, I discovered later she had remarried during the time the book was written.
I read other books. I was frustrated and angry at what was being published for widows. I couldn’t hitch a trailer to my car and galavant about the country baking pies in order to heal, nor could I run off and hike a wilderness trail for months on end, nor did I feel like going out dancing with other widows on Saturday nights, nor did I find it practical to sit in my easy chair and read the Bible and pray all day.
I lived in a real world. I inherited a business I couldn’t do, and I needed an income. I had to stay put, go to work, and manage life. And I needed help doing it. I needed to read about someone else who had to keep on going where she was.
I wanted my book to show the real stuff. And I knew my book would need to convey one thing: You can’t get to the top unless you go to the bottom.
You cannot show someone that you are better, that you have healed as much as is practical, unless you show them how much you suffered. You’ve got to show the hurt, the pain, the extent of the grief—that nobody understands unless they have been there—before the reader can appreciate where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.
My book was meant to tell a story that takes place in the flow of real life.