“There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure truth.”
~ Maya Angelou
I need to give you an update about my memoir. For those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that you encouraged me to turn some of my posts about my time in the Kimberley with my Aboriginal Aunties into a book.
And I did.
A manuscript, anyway.
I shared the completed draft with members of my writing group. The feedback was good. I tweaked it and got it ready to send to an agent. I was feeling pretty positive about it. But my writing group aren’t intuitives or empaths or ‘that way inclined’. I love them but they’re not my tribe.
A friend from our Cauldrons and Cupcakes community also read the draft. She sent me an email that went something like this: ‘I stayed up all night reading it [great, I think, that’s a good sign] and every time you mentioned your psychic experiences you just touched on them briefly and then went on to the next thing. FOR THE ENTIRE BOOK! I want to know how you felt. I want to know how it changed you. I want to know what was really happening. That’s the book I need to read. You can do better.’
I knew she was right.
I rewrote it. And then rewrote it again. Each time I redrafted it I got a little braver, a little more vulnerable, a little more honest.
My writer friends told me I’d gone too far. I wasn’t sure if I’d gone far enough. It was still relatively safe content though, so I was pretty sure it was ready. Before I sent it to an agent I gave it to a couple of people who are mentioned in the book. ‘It’s good,’ they said, ‘but can you take me out? Also I don’t like this bit, even though it’s true. If you print this I’ll take legal action’.
By this time I was thoroughly bummed. It all seemed too hard. I put the project down and walked away from it.
Still, you kept asking me when it would be done. You kept sending encouraging notes and emails. And I knew I had to try again. I just didn’t know how.
Finally Ben asked me what was holding me up. ‘I don’t know,’ I told him.
‘Yes, you do,’ he said. ‘You’re worried about what other people will think. That’s dumb, Nic. Just tell your story. YOUR story. The one only you can tell. What does it matter anyway? You already have people who don’t believe in you and what you do, but you also have people who are waiting for this book. Write it anyway. The story that needs to be told, not the sanitised version.’
It makes me feel sick to my stomach, but I know that he is right. I don’t need all the bits about other people and interesting or funny stories to entertain the reader. They’re simply diversions from what was really happening.
But what will people think if I tell them what was really happening? If I don’t share it, I stay safe. I can keep pretending. I can avoid controversy, judgement, ridicule.
Yesterday Ben said to me, ‘What if it didn’t matter what other people thought? What if it didn’t matter? Then would you write your book?’
‘In a heartbeat,’ I responded, the words out of my mouth before I’d even thought about them.
So, today I’m starting on my ninth and final draft. Not the facts. That was my first draft, and my second, and my third…
This time I’m going to tell the truth, because that’s a whole other story.
Wish me courage.
I still feel sick about it, but it’s time.
All my love, Nicole ❤ xx