Friday, September 17, 2010

So, I Need Some Advice

Okay, so a publisher who I won't name is very, very interested in my story. She's particularly interested in the story of the abuse I endured and how I left my abuser. For years people have told me this is a riveting story, and for years I've insisted I didn't want to tell it, though ironically, I have about a gazillion times. But I haven't written it.

I've written snippets of it, and you've seen them if you read my blog post about the scars on my wrists--now covered by "love"--and the one about being thrown out of the house naked when I was very pregnant. I remember how I cried and cried when I wrote those, and now, I don't cry so much. Of course, one of those stories still has the power to devastate me; it involves my son and demonstrates how my instincts, even as a mother, had been dulled numb. I don't think I even told that one on the blog! In any case, it's the hardest of my stories. But that isn't what I'm asking about. I think I'm ready to write this thing, whether or not it'll be published, whether or not Raphael likes it, and may I say, I'm willing to protect his identity as much as possible. I don't know why I have to write this story, but I've been asked to do it too many times to ignore it anymore. I think God wants this. I want to give it to him.

But I don't know where to begin. Maybe I should trust that if I just starting telling the story, the awesome editor who has taken such an interest in me will guide me. Or maybe once I get going, the beauty I want to tell it with will emerge. It'll certainly be a different voice than the Teresa book. I think. See! I'm not sure. Maybe the voice in the Teresa book is the one! Just you and me; we've got a cup of tea in front of us, and just having a chat. Oh, but I love a lovely, achingly told memoir. What to do!?

Here's the last thing. There's a villain, of course, but there's also a hero. I want you to see more of the hero in this memoir, because it's really a love story between a ragamuffin and her Beloved, and the extraordinary measures the Beloved took to rescue her. If it isn't about that, I'm not interested in doing it. Who needs another harrowing abuse story just because.

When I was in Breckenridge I got to tell some of my story. A lot of it! As I talked, I remembered years ago when I was with Raphael, sneaking off to the Seventh Day Adventist bookstore just touching the Bibles and books. All my dreams of being a Christian writer--I thought--had been shattered. I told myself one terrible, honest day, "I'll never get to write for Jesus now." My heart was broken.

Fast forward about 16 years. When I was expecting my first copy of Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man, I was on the phone with BFF Marilynn Griffith the night before. I told Mary about standing in that store, and I burst into tears. I'd come a loooong way, baby. A loooooong way. The next day, I was IMing with my friend Stacia, and the book came. Once again I burst into tears, remembering my grief in that store. I was immobilized. It was hard to process that a package had come, a Christian book, with my name on it. I had survived it all, and I wrote something for Jesus!

Stacia had to insist I stop weeping into my keyboard. Ken took me by the elbow and tenderly told me to open it, and I stood there weeping, utterly amazed, and all I could think of were the words to the Magnificat. I was sooo not Catholic. I don't think I was even Orthodox yet! But there it was, the first lines ringing in my soul:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant."
I don't mean to imply that I'm anything like Our Lady. I had simply been given a magnificent gift, one I neither deserved, or had any right to expect, and these words fit so well. And now here I am, wanting to tell the story of why that day, holding that book, meant so much.  I want to share exactly how lowly I was--and not in a good way--and how much amazing grace--unmerited, lavish favor--I had been given.

Maybe I should simply tell what happened: unvarnished; the truth. Begin there. See what God does.

What do you think? I'm sooo nervous, and anxious to hear what you have to say.

Much love,


~Leslie said...

NO matter how you tell it, it will be full of everything you want it to be and SO MUCH MORE. This post is already FULL of it. Get started, Mair, God's gonna fill it completely with everything it needs to be for all of us who need to read it!

heaps and heaps of love to you!!!

Heidi Renee said...

FINALLY! You know those words I spoke to you at the beginning - meant not to harm (although they did) but to say THIS is the story that MUST be told. I can't wait to hold it in my hands dear friend. You can do it - just write - write and write - the angels and editors will figure out the rest. speak that truth in love dear friend.

Bella Scarlett said...

There are no coincidences with God. If this has presented itself, then it's time. Just start writing, dear lady; the voice will emerge just as God wants it to. He is your Shepherd and will guide you through this - His rod and His staff. Follow.

Matthew Ward ( said...

You should definitely write it. Every book provides something to the reader's life, and I believe that book would provide so much to so many. I always think about it this way: as hard as it would be to write something so personal for me now, in my short life, the words will last forever... years and years after we are gone from this earth, our words, books, etc., will live on... and who knows how many lives you can change for the better through time. It's an awesome gift and responsibility to have a story to tell.

Juanita said...

I don't know you, but "lov'n Jesus" is all over your writing, and if Jesus is in it, then I believe you should follow where He leads you.

CeCe Wilson said...

I believe we/I NEED to hear your story. Your story of deliverance and perseverance is someone else's key to their deliverance. Someone needs to be comforted with the comfort that you received. It's already on it's way and thank you for doing it.Thank you for your transparency and willingness to be used by our Father.

ragamuffin diva said...

Thanks, everyone. You know, I've been thinking of this all day. One of the things your comments made me think about is the fact that I almost became a fatality because I mistakenly believed God wanted me to stay in that situation. I got all kinds of messages telling me otherwise, but faulty spirituality can be deadly. Literally. Maybe I can be part of God's rescue plan for another of his beloveds.

Tracey M. Lewis-Giggetts said...

You so should write this. The format will come to you but in the meantime I suggest you start with the most painful and write your way thru to when deliverence and joy began to show themselves. Maybe write short vignettes at first...reflections and then figure out how to link them in your rewrite. I suspect that the grace and mercy of God will naturally shine thru, without much effort.

This is absolutely needed, Mair. The one thing that I always try to remember scribes for our King, our stories are never about us. Not really. There is someone bound and in chains (spiritually and maybe even physically) who will be set free by your testimony; our testimony. Who are we to deprive them? :) Go for it, sis.

MaryAnn M said...

do it. yes. i agree with the dont have to know that the whole book will look like or sound like...just begin the writing and the book will find you. the Voice will find you and speak clearly.
its a MUST
the bad and the horrible...and then the God..and the good that comes...

many need to hear there is a good and a God who loves and redeems and treasures

you got prayer backup...go for it!!

MaryAnn M said...

i read your comment and i can agree...false spirituality kills.
i have a friend who was going thru a very very hard time in her marriage and when she tried to get counsel from her church she was basically told to shut up and forgive her husband and don't ever talk of this again. she was drowning in pain and was told that if she disobeyed the "church's" teachings and advice she was offending God and He would not hear her prayers.
she felt trapped and dying.

there are 1,000s out there that believe that they must suck it up and stay and live in constant fear of their abusers and this "God" that also wants her to live in fear and pain. who can she trust? who can help?
clearly...the Beloved....

Alison Strobel Morrow said...

I think you know what I think. :)

Just start writing. Don't get angsty over how to do it. Like you said, you've got snippets--many of them--already written here on your blog; use those as jumping off points, and don't worry about how you'll link them. Just polish them, play with them, shuffle and combine and split them up, and God will reveal the approach He wants you to use.

I'm so glad to hear you're taking this step. So many women out there need to hear your story.

Brenda said...

Yes, you should write it. There is someone who needs to hear and read it for all of the reasons written above. Write on,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Confessions of An Overweight Chrisitan said...

Yes, you should write the book. People have been saying, you should write it, but now, God is saying, here is the open door, a publisher for the book. It is time.

I was in a conference Friday night. The speaker said he believed in books, because a book can go where you cannot go, reach people you would never meet. A book can go where a tape or CD cannot go, because not everyone has a tape player or a CD player. You need no equipment to enjoy a book other than the ability to read. A book can travel around the world though you may never get more than 50 miles from home. A book can carry the message from hand to hand as people share and loan or give a book.

As for how, the voice, where to begin, don't worry about it. Just begin with whatever is on your mind and heart. It will find it's place in time. Holy Spirit will guide you and send you the help you need.

Don't stress, be blessed!

Love, Jean

Confessions of An Overweight Chrisitan said...

And, Mair, you mentioned that you almost became a fatality because you mistakenly believed that God wanted you to stay in that situation. So did I! And even worse, I put my beloved babies at risk too!

There are many "someones" out there waiting to hear your message, that God cares and wants to deliver them out of abuse. Yes! You can be part of God's rescue plan for many who are living in a prison of abuse.

May the Lord bless you greatly in your ministry.

PatriciaW said...

Because of your prior mistake, the enemy wants you to not trust your judgment, to not be sure of what you are hearing from God.

But you know what God is telling you, and it looks like everyone is confirming it for you.

I agree that you've poured out much of your story here, perhaps a stepping stone to writing the full story. Get it all out on paper. You will have to relive the pain, but the good news is that you KNOW you are on the other side of that pain, where you can rest in His abiding love. Can't wait to read it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Claudia, nobody reads my blog allison here. okay i have something, i have a history of abuse, but was afraid to share it bcause ppl were still alive. all i will say is dont go the Oprah some times she has ppl sharing all their bidness and crying, but there's no resolution, just drama...meaning there is a way to share that will be a benefit to others without dragging you or others though the mud..some ppl expose details God doesn't need exposing, sometimes its for money or for shock value, and then there's a need to healing. So pray for discernment, meaning what would HE have you to share, and what NOT to share, meaning He may want protection for some..Like i wanted to write a book to blast my pain and kind of tell everyone what my dad did, but God wanted me to refrain from some stuff because he is probably gonna get saved, so it wasn't coming from the right place but God's wisdom always has the best in mind for everyone's health. he'll give you the discretion and all with b blessed, not just ppl b-ing in yo bidness..God will tell u and you'll have peace.

ragamuffin diva said...

Again, thank you everyone! I do want to clarify that all I have is an editor's interest. She works for a great publishing house, but she's not offering any guarantee. That's how this business is. What she did offer was to help me shape my memories into some kind of book.

Allison, you have made some very good points that I have considered. I never thought of Oprah. At all. I thought of this Christian publishing house she works for and the audience it will likely reach, if indeed it is published there, and the audience it will likely reach that it will spill over to. What I mean by spill over is this. Once I went to the Lexington Central library and it had several of my books on the shelf, and that was kinda cool. No, my publishers won't love that, but it introduced me to some readers who love my books. One woman went to my daughter ZZ's school last year. She saw Aziza's name in my book and said, do you know a writer with your same last name, and ZZ said, "Uhhhh, my mom." From then on this woman read all of my books, mostly from the library, and she GUSHED every time she saw me. And then she told people at the school and they got them from the library. So, I get readers who don't buy my books. Whatever. I don't see myself on Oprah. I see some woman on the bus, reading her library book and saying, "Maybe God will do it for me, too." And trying to cling to him and pray her way out of trouble. All the players in my story are alive. Folks may get saved. Folks who may not want their stories told have stories intertwined with mine. God knows it all. Some of this story is shocking, but I just want to glorify God now. I don't know if I could have done it this way even a month ago. I think it's just time. I'll see what God does. It's bread on the water. I have NO contract for this at all.

Anonymous said...

To protect those involved, those still living and those who still might be saved, you could write the book under a pseudonym, change the names and some of the circumstances or places involved. And then, of course, you could not go on TV and say, "I wrote this." But you are not writing it for your own glory or fame.

I wrote some of my past, which I didn't think told very much at all - like very mild things that happened, and let someone I respect and trusted read it. He said that some people would read my (unpublished) book for all the wrong reasons because it would be like reading a soap opera. He said perhaps I was to write it, but not for publication, but for my family to read it; but not now, but I would know the right time later. That was 22 years ago.

Praying for you,

GailNHB said...

Didn't God tell his people, his scribes, to write down what they had encountered on their journeys thru the wilderness of life and how he had brought them thru and brought them out so that their children and their children's children would know the stories of sorrow and victory and the ceaseless and abundant faithfulness of God? It seems that he is saying the same thing to you now thru your publisher!

I suspect that "something healing this way comes" for your readers and for you!!!

So, right on, Mair.
Write on.

Kay Day said...

I want to read this story. And so many women need to read it.
Just write it. Just sit and go. That's what re-writes are for. You will find your voice along the way and it will be sisterly, friendly, and hauntingly beautiful. I have no doubt it will be just what it should be.
Trust the process, trust His guidance. Start at the beginning and spit it out.

Anonymous said...

ok Claudia, if its your time to shine it is your time. God will work it out. I hope many ppl are blessed. I think yours is honorable. So ppl just need to get healed and their testimony isn't helping others and more about self. doesn't sound like that at all from what you are saying. mine is more a story about redemption, if i can get through it so can you.