Today's special guest is Linda Hoye. Linda's A Slice of Life Writing blog visits many topics including writing memoir. One primary area of focus that Linda writes about is the subject of adoption. Today she tells us a bit about her personal story and the process involved in bringing that story to the pages of her soon to be published Two Hearts: An Adoption Memoir.
Writing a Memoir: Not for the Faint of Heart
I’ve written off and on for most of my life and about four years ago I decided to get serious about it. My husband and I were empty-nesters and had recently relocated to Washington State from Canada. Since all of our family and friends were back in Canada I found myself with extra time on my hands. I took a few online writing classes, joined the Story Circle Network and the National Association of Memoir Writers (Both organizations excellent resources for writers.), started a blog, and began writing about my life growing up in Saskatchewan.
I didn’t originally start out to write a memoir. At first I thought I would just write some vignettes about my childhood and document family history for the benefit of my children and grandchildren. It was my husband who encouraged me to write about my adoption experience, and convinced me I had a story that others might be interested in.
I had no way of knowing at the time just what I was getting in to!
I refer to the first few drafts as “Dragnet Drafts” because they contained “just the facts” and no emotion. Even though I had already done some grief work related to having been adopted, I was still very stoic and shut down, but I realized that in order to write about emotion I would have to feel the emotion, and that was not easy for me.
I used photographs a lot during the process. I pored over pictures from my childhood, trying to remember how little girl Linda had felt back then. I had tiny photographs of my birth mom that I scanned into my computer so I could enlarge them and see her face more clearly. I had a lot of suppressed anger toward the woman who gave birth to me and seeing her face on a regular basis forced me to come to terms with it. I put pictures of all of my eight siblings up on the wall next to my writing desk, at one point I put a large sheet of paper up on the wall in my office and taped photographs of key people on it so I could see everyone all the time.
|Mother and child|
I read journals and poems I had written during dark times in my life and I compiled reams of documentation from my search and reunion. It was during the process of pulling those documents together when I realized there was something missing. I won’t go into the details (I hope you’ll read my book when it comes out to find out the whole story!) suffice to say I took a step that ultimately and unexpectedly led to finding peace about my adoption experience. If I hadn’t been writing a memoir it’s possible I would never have gotten to that place.
Aside from that, perhaps the greatest benefit I gained during the writing process was the opportunity to step back and objectively look at people, places, and events and see them in terms of a bigger picture. Much like the individual threads of a tapestry are woven together to make a design much more beautiful than any of the threads are by themselves, threads of situations and people are woven together to make up the unique picture of our lives. Oftentimes we aren’t able to see the beauty without stepping back, and it is in this stepping back and impartially considering the experiences of our lives that we find truth. We are able to let go of our preconceived biases toward people who have done things that hurt us and see them in a different light—a light of understanding, acceptance, and perhaps even forgiveness. We are able to see ourselves in a new way too, and understand reasons for choices we’ve made, and see how our choices changed our life.
Today, four years after embarking on my memoir writing journey, I’m considering publication options for Two Hearts: An Adoption Memoir and my husband jokes that he has his wife back—without his support and understanding I could not have written this book
I hope my story will help other adoptees understand that if we are willing to acknowledge our issues and do the work we can find our way to the other side of the silent grief many of us deal with. Maya Angelou says: “You did then when you knew how to do. When you knew better, you did better.” I pray that Two Hearts will be a resource to help us know better so we do better regarding adoption in the future.
Find Linda's blog at http://lindahoye.com/. Thank you, Linda, for this touching and informative post.
Next week we will be visited by Journaling Woman who also writes wonderful memoir vignettes on her blog The Ruralhood.