Life After the Book Launch: An Interview with Memoirist Libbye Morris about Truth-telling
Posted by Libbye Morris/@libbyemorris
” It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” Joseph Campbell.
I am very pleased to welcome back Libbye Morris, Author of Root, Little Pig,or Die: My Journey Into and Out of An Abusive Relationship, a memoir of teenage abuse. You can read my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. You’ll recall that Libbye did a previous guest post on Reflection and Introspection in Memoir.
Since facing a painful past then writing about it from a personal perspective can be fraught with repercussions from other people who may have a different perception of the same events, I invited Libbye back for this interview to discuss how she has handled her truth-telling.
Welcome Back, Libbye!
KP: How has the experience of writing your truths in Root, Little Pig been for you?
LM: It has been empowering. I am still anxious about possible repercussions, but I wanted to tell my story about my journey into and out of an abusive relationship to help others who are, or have been, in a similar situation. If my book helps even one person leave an abusive relationship, I will have accomplished my goal.
KP: Have you experienced any minor or major repercussions from your truth-telling?
LM: The wife of my first cousin bought my book. My cousin probably didn’t know that our grandfather was a child molester and rapist. I have not heard from the wife, but I am waiting anxiously for the repercussions and the questions about why I chose to disclose our family issues publicly. I also am anxious about my ex-boyfriend finding out about the book. That possibility is always in the back of my mind, but I decided to publish the book anyway.
KP: How did you handle the idea of possibly disparaging others by revealing your truth?
LM: I did not publish my memoir to enact revenge on anyone. Long ago, I forgave those who caused me harm. My purpose in publishing the book was simply to tell my story and to give hope to others. I agonized over it for years but finally decided that I should not let my fear of hurting the perpetrators’ feelings stop me from telling my story.
KP: Have you considered helping abused women since publishing your memoir?
LM: Yes. I now volunteer at the Barrett House in Albuquerque, a homeless shelter for abused women and their children.
KP: Was the writing healing for you?
LM: Yes, it was extremely cathartic. If I had not written the book, I would not have realized how my father’s illness, my mother’s inability to cope, being molested by my grandfather, and being bullied in junior high school set the stage for me to enter an abusive relationship and stay in it for three and a half years. I also wouldn’t have realized what helped me get out of the relationship: my faith in God, my dream of becoming a veterinarian, and friends who serendipitously appeared just when I needed them.
You know, the last thing I wrote before publishing my book was the promotional blurb that describes what the book is about. I now think that blurb should be the first thing a memoirist writes—it forces you to focus on what the book is really about in a succinct way and to define the narrative arc.
KP: Did you inform any of the involved people ahead of time? Family? Friends?
LM: My siblings knew about the book, and I wrote very sparingly about the ones who are still living! My friends have been quite supportive. And a man who plays an integral part in the book Googled me, found the book online before I even knew it was available, and contacted me. We dated 32 years ago in college, and now we have reunited! That has been the most exciting result of publishing the book.
KP: Did you seek legal assistance?
LM: Yes, I met with an attorney before self-publishing my memoir. It was a tremendous relief to find out that, in the state of New Mexico, there are nine criteria that must be met before my ex-boyfriend can sue me for libel, defamation of character, or invasion of privacy. One criterion is that he has to be able to prove that the abuse didn’t happen. He would be unable to do that. The most valuable lesson I learned from the attorney was the importance of securing a personal liability policy that will protect me in the event of such a lawsuit. I think that is sage advice for any memoir writer.
I think many people are stymied by the fear of repercussion. My advice is to stand in your truth and proceed!
American mythologist Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Not only will completing and publishing your memoir give you an understanding of your own life story that you could never otherwise gain; it will help other people learn important lessons based on how you overcame adversity.
Maybe they are in the same situation you were in and need inspiration. Don’t deprive yourself or your readers of those gifts just because of fear.
Go find your treasure. It lies in your memoir.
KP: Thank you, Libbye for showing us how you found the treasure within by writing your memoir! Root, Little Pig, or Die will give hope and inspiration to all young women who find themselves in a similar situation. And it seems writing the memoir has opened up a whole new path for you to reach out to women in an abusive relationship. It appears that life after the launch has been very productive.
How about you? How is your own truth-telling going? What are your main concerns about truth-telling?
Please leave your comments or questions below~ your name may be selected in a random drawing of all commenters. The lucky winner will receive a copy of Root, Little Pig, or Die.
Libbye A. Morris is a freelance writer and editor who has just returned to her beloved home state of New Mexico after working on the East Coast for 25 years. She can be reached at:
Facebook: Libbye Morris
LinkedIn: Libbye Morris
This Week: I am also over at Christian writer and freelance writer, Cate Russell-Cole’s blog, CommuniCATE with a guest post on “The Transformative Power of Memoir.” Hope you’ll join me there, too.
Next Week: A recap of the Annual HostingCon2012 in Boston. I have been asked to participate as a consumer in a panel discussion about web security services- “And I Thought I Was Just Writing a Memoir.”