What writing are you most proud of? To date, I’m most proud of my memoir, The Box of Daughter: Healing the Authentic Self, which is the story of my journey of recovery from growing up in a very dysfunctional family. The Box of Daughter won awards in both the 2012 New England Book Festival and Reader’s Favorite Book Awards, and was nominated as a Finalist in the 2013 Maine Literary Awards.
What are you most proud of in your personal life? I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve pretty much put my difficult past behind me and created a life that feels rich and authentic. It only took 25 years, LOL.
Tell us about your new book. What’s it about and why did you write it? My latest book, Bullied: Why You Feel Bad Inside and What to Do About It is just coming out this week. I’m really excited about it! It’s a guide to recovery for teens and adults who’ve been bullied or emotionally abused, and like my memoir, it’s a book that came out of my own recovery from bullying and emotional abuse in childhood.
When I was in my thirties, I seriously contemplated suicide because I was in so much emotional pain, so I know what that feels like. With Bullied, my motivation is singularly the fact that so many teens commit suicide in response to bullying because they think there’s no other way out. But there are ways to recover, to move beyond the pain and actually create a much happier and more fulfilling life.
Bullied helps people to cope with sadness, fear, depression, and anger – and it’s my opinion that most of the problems in society (the violence, road rage, depression, relationship angst) stem from unexpressed feelings, because we’re taught that we’re not supposed to have feelings, but they’re truly an intrinsic part of being human. Pain happens. Things make us mad. Things make us frightened. We’re supposed to feel those things, not pretend they’re not there. We just have to learn how to let them go and move on.
What book should everybody read at least once? Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child. Ms. Miller writes to every child – she believes that all children are gifted, but that most children’s gifts get buried by the way they’re brought up.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you? In spite of being dumped in a daughter box when she was small, she managed to grow up, create an authentic life, and do the work she felt she was called to do.
How did you develop your writing? I started with journal writing, which allows a writer to be totally free to put into words whatever is springing forth from inside, and over the years I took a number of workshops at a wonderful writers’ studio in Florence, Massachusetts called Writers in Progress. I’ve also had my first drafts critiqued, which means they’re read by a professional editor, and comments come back to show the writer what needs work. The first editor I worked with in this way taught me incredible stuff about how to write. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote, and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote.
I can’t remember who, but some famous writer once said, “You have to write a million words before you become a good writer.” I think that’s absolutely true.
Do you plan to publish more books? Oh, yes, yes, yes! I have five in the pipeline at the moment, and ideas tucked away for several more that I haven’t started yet. Sometimes a phrase or paragraph will come into my head for one of the books I’m working on, so I jot it down. I always seem to work on several simultaneously, until one of them suddenly stands up and says, “I’m first now.” Then I focus on that one, get it written and published, and move on to the next.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I wrote a poem when I was six, and one of my teachers liked it. Writing was really the only way I could express myself without getting in trouble. The problem was, my mother insinuated that I would never be able to write, so I had to overcome that negative message and learn how to believe in myself as a writer.
How long have you been writing? If you count the poem when I was six, I’ve been writing for 49 years. If you mean how long I’ve been pursuing it as a career, it’s been about 20.
When did you first know you could be a writer? When I wrote a short piece in response to a writing prompt in a workshop, and the instructor stared and me and said, “That is spot on.” Around that same time, I read my poem “The Box of Daughter” at a poetry reading, and when I finished and looked up, I could see people’s hearts right in their eyes as they stared at me. Then, of course, they clapped….I love applause!
If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask? Great question! I would invite Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Noel Coward, Joan of Arc, Plato, William Shakespeare, Gertrude Stein, Neils Bohr, and Carl Jung, and sit back to see what happens.
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Genre - Self Help/Abuse/Bullying
Rating – G
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