I was driving and listening to a Christian radio station and the radio personalities were discussing books and how each one of us has a book inside of us. The question was if we knew ourselves well enough to be an authority-one whom others will turn to regarding an experience or as a person with some set of knowledge-would we know ourselves well enough to write about that subject and be confident that someone else will benefit from having read the book we wrote?
I know myself very well. I was once a very narrow-minded, judgmental, and illness-shaming type of person. I thought mentally ill people were weak and should be hidden from view. I grew up in this type of family. Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers struggled with mental illness-yet both families would not speak of their struggles or situation.
When I joined the Air Force in 1998, I became ill. The stress I was under caused my latent genes to explode into the full bloom that is mental illness. After more than a decade of denying my illness, I have finally accepted it.
I share because I don’t want to sit in silence, in supposed dignity. I don’t want others to feel as alone as I have in my life and in my struggles. I want for my experience to help someone in some way, and I think that it has given the friends I have made regarding sharing the same or similar experience.
I am working on a memoir about my mental illness. Currently, it is reading like a timeline, and I don’t like that because timelines can’t delve into the minute detail that mental illness demands in expression.
As a writer, I have had to learn the hard way how to edit myself. I can often edit myself into silence. I still struggle sometimes with what I should share and what I should keep to myself-for mainly the fear of others using my thoughts and writings against me-which has happened in the past.
I’m going to revisit my manuscript and make a complete change in tone, pace, and perspective. I think writing the failed manuscript ,and reviewing it with kind criticism ,will help me make the final one stronger and more relatable.
So my question to you is,
Do You Know Yourself Well Enough to Write Your Book?