Please give a warm welcome to Sue Silverman, author of Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir, as she shares with us how to find the courage to tell YOUR story. As you'll see, Sue speaks from experience and I commend her bravery in sharing her story here with my readers. Thank you, Sue!
Be sure to enter the giveaway for her book in the post above this one as well.
“You should write your own story,” my therapist says.
I’ve been in therapy about a year. I slouch on the blue couch in his office and stare at the ceiling. Unable to meet his gaze, I say, “I don’t have anything to say about myself.”
He knows I’ve been trying to write novels for years. So what he really means is: Why don’t I stop writing fiction and write my own true story?
But wouldn’t I be too ashamed to write about how, growing up, my father sexually molested me? Wouldn’t I be too embarrassed to write about how, as an adult, I struggle with a sexual addiction? How could I possibly commit to paper the fact that my life has been in a constant state of disarray?
Besides, who would even want to read about me? I’m a nobody. My life is worthless. I’m a mess.
For months, my therapist insists that writing a book about my experiences would not only help me, but other struggling women.
Finally, after my parents die, when I’m emotionally stronger, I capitulate.
Finally, I tell my therapist: “Well, maybe I’ll write a short, short paragraph about myself. But that’s all I have to say.”
Once I begin to write, however, I can’t stop. I write as if with a brain fever. At the end of three months, I finish three-hundred pages.
Was the writing painful? At times, yes. Did the writing force me to explore, in even more detail, secrets only my therapist knew? Yes. Was it worth it, anyway? Yes, yes, yes. Writing my first memoir, then going on to write a second, are the best gifts I ever gave myself.
I also came to learn that writing about painful subjects ultimately lessens the pain. With every word I wrote, I felt more courageous. With every word, I also better understood my past, all those secrets.
Writing a memoir helped to organize my life, give it a previously undiscovered structure. Fearlessly writing memoir allows all of us to understand our own life narratives.
If you’re like me, though, it can initially be scary to confront those deepest, most intimate secrets—even in the privacy of a writing room—and even if no one reads what we write!
So let me give you an exercise that I use in Fearless Confessions in order to help you get started: Write a short paragraph about a secret you’ve never told anyone, except maybe a therapist. Try to discover why this secret has such power.
I hope you feel how I did, after writing: lighter, more emotionally free.
FEARLESS CONFESSIONS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO MEMOIR
University of Georgia Press, paperback
Watch book video trailer on YouTube here.
Everyone has a story to tell. “Fearless Confessions” is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper—or in a Web site or e-book. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.
Author Sue William Silverman says: “It's crucial to cultivate the courage to tell one's truth in the face of forces—from family members to the media—who would prefer that people with inconvenient pasts remain silent.”
Sue William Silverman’s memoir, Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction (W. W. Norton), is also a Lifetime Television original movie. Her first memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, won the AWP award in creative nonfiction. She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and her most recent book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir, published with the University of Georgia Press (video book trailer at on YouTube). As a professional speaker, Sue has appeared on The View, Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN Headline News. For more about Sue, please visit www.suewilliamsilverman.com.
Thanks to Sue William Silverman and Wow! Women On Writing for arranging this wonderful tour/guest post/giveaway.
Sue will be reading and responding to your comments, so please feel free to ask her any questions, send her your thoughts, etc. in the comments below. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for her book Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir in the post above as well. Good luck!