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#74357 - 01/27/06 06:42 PM Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Ladies, I am so excited to introduce our February Featured Author. Sue was one of the first women to submit her story when I launched BWS over three years ago. I met her through the National Association of Women Writers. She has so much to offer. I can't wait until February 1st to get started.

Here's her message to you:

Hello Boomer Women! I’m delighted to spend this month with you and am very appreciative that Dotsie provides this important forum for all our voices.

To me, that’s writing is all about as well: voice.

Growing up, I never had a voice. I could never tell anyone that my father was sexually molesting me. I didn’t know the word “incest,” the word “danger,” the word “rape.” And because, as a child, I couldn’t speak the words I most needed to say, it seems inevitable that I grew up to be a writer, as if, throughout those years of silence, I hoarded words and images until it was safe to reveal my truths.

I speak now. I write now.

In my first memoir, Because I Remember Terror "Father" I Remember You (winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award series in creative nonfiction), I focus on this incestuous childhood. In my second book, Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction (W. W. Norton), I more fully explore the recovery, as this memoir revolves around the 28 days I spent in rehab. Writing memoirs allows me to organize my life, see connections, reflect upon events, discover the metaphors that guide me.

But, of course, there are other forms and genres in which to reveal the stories we most want to tell. Now, in fact, just a few days ago, my first poetry collection was published. The title is Hieroglyphics in Neon (Orchises Press). In it, yes, there are some autobiographical poems—but all the poems are emotionally autobiographical.

In addition to writing, I teach in the low-residency MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College and am associate editor of the literary journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction. I am also a professional speaker on the subjects of child abuse, family dynamics, and addictions. For more information, please visit me at www.suewilliamsilverman.com.

[ January 27, 2006, 06:05 PM: Message edited by: Dotsie ]

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#74358 - 02/01/06 07:49 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Hi Sue! Welcome to the Featured Author forum at BWS. I'm excited to get started.

Do you mind telling us what you went through mentally before choosing to write your story? I am only talking about the choice to write, not your emotional past (obviously). Some writers have a life-time burning desire, others have dreams or visions. How about you?

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#74359 - 02/01/06 09:07 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, thanks for the question! I went through a lot of avoidance before starting to write my story! It's strange because, for years (even during college and after I graduated), I SAID I was a writer, but I wasn't putting any words down on paper. But yet I felt like one for so long, way before I began. This may be because, even as far back as 4th-5th grade, I was an avid reader--and reading "good" books, too. However, more specifically, before I called myself a "writer," my first loves growing up were ballet and piano. Probably, I started out wanting to be a ballerina. Finally, though, I got the nerve to write...and realized that I needed to write!

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#74360 - 02/01/06 09:18 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Hello Sue, I am so glad to have you at BWS! Boomer sisters: I had the pleasure of meeting Sue at Vermont College last August when I was in her creative non-fiction writing group. Sue is obviously an excellent writer and mentor. However, I took a liking to her long before meeting her in person, just after I had read both her books (you can see reviews I wrote in the forums here at favorite books and announcements.) One of the ways Sue influenced me as a writer is this: I had written my book, but I kept my book a secret. Incest surviors are accustomed to keeping secrets. Imagine doing the work of writing and publishing and then not telling anyone! Then, I stumbled upon Sue's books and her work as an advocate, and her words and work gave me the additional courage I needed to move forward to break the silence. No matter what your topic is, Sue can teach you so much about writing: metaphor in memoir is but one of her many specialties.

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#74361 - 02/01/06 10:13 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Lynn, thank you so much for your very kind and supportive words! Yes, because women are "taught" (at an early age) to be silent, to not tell secrets, I think it can be difficult for women to find the courage to "speak," or write--for our voices to be heard. Please know how much I admire YOUR courage to write your powerful book. By the way, I wrote an article (posted on my website, see "Short Works")called "Confessional and finally Proud Of It," about my journey of writing and publishing my books. It fact, women writers CAN be misunderstood by the (mostly male) media...another reason why the Boomer Women Speak website is so important: a safe place for women to share their experiences and stories.

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#74362 - 02/01/06 10:39 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
jawjaw Offline
Da Queen

Registered: 07/02/03
Posts: 12025
Loc: Alabama
I want to add my welcome to what I know will be a long, long list of others. We are very honored and excited to have you here with us.

One of my questions to you (I won't hog your time here) is about your speaking. Did this venue for you just naturally follow after the birth of your first book, or was it a progressive thing. Also, when you speak, is it always within certain groups? Certain subjects?

Thank you in advance and WELCOME! May your voice become the voice for someone out there reading these post who has lost their own...JJ

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#74363 - 02/01/06 11:04 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
overthehillchick Offline
Member

Registered: 05/20/05
Posts: 31
Loc: Virginia, USA
Welcome, Sue! I was lost on another thread, but I finally found it.

It's funny but I have just started a memoir about finding my father. It's an interesting story that after 52 years, I get a phone call from a man in Florida (I'm in Virginia) who tells me he is my first cousin. As in wowzers. I am keeping track of everything that's happening on my blog but going in more detail for this book I've just started on. I still haven't met my father yet, but I know where he is. I'm corresponding by email and phone with my "aunt" and "first cousin"...they are my only lifelines to find out why my father disappeared after I was born.

Anyway, can you tell me, since the James Frey incident, do you see a future for memoirs? I heard somewhere that the market has just about closed down because of it, but I'm not sure how true that is.

Also, are there traditional publishers that you know of that take this sort of thing if you aren't agent-represented? I'm in the process of securing an agent for another book I've written, but nothing has come of it yet. But, I'm curious, what NY publisher still takes unagented submissions pertaining to memoroirs?

Thanks, hon!

Dorothy

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#74364 - 02/01/06 11:23 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, JAWJAW: Thanks so much for your warm welcome! Yes, basically, the speaking kind of took on a life of its own after my first book was published. Before publication, it never occurred to me that I'd become a speaker! I mean, I gave the usual readings at bookstores when it was published, and I thought that would be it. But then, various groups began inviting me to participate in conferences, etc. Mainly, I speak at child abuse prevention conferences and some professional organizations that work with sex addiction. Also writers conferences, of course. Too, I speak at colleges and universities: to their creative writing departments, to women's studies programs, as well as divisions of social work and psychology. Thanks for asking about this! Sue

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#74365 - 02/01/06 11:36 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dorothy, Thank you so much for posting here. That's an amazing story about your father. And it means a lot to me to hear some of your own journey. It also sounds as if it will be an important book. To my mind, I'd suggest you keep writing and not worry about the James Frey incident. I mean, we have to write our stories, regardless. I actually haven't heard anything about the nonfiction market "closing down" because of it. I figure that publishers HAVE to publish or they go out of business, so I wouldn't be overly concerned. In fact, I've heard that the market for fiction is "slow"! And, as I say, they've got to publish and earn money, and not everyone is going to write a cookbook or an exercise book...if you know what I mean. So keep writing! That's the most important part, anyway. In terms of an agent, my sense is that you pretty much need one in terms of the "big" NY publishers. However, there are many small publishers and university presses that are excellent. You can find a list of all of these in the library by using the reference book "The Literary Marketplace." (It lists everyone and includes the kinds of things they publish. It also lists agents.) I hope this helps. Again, just keep writing! That IS important! Does this answer your question? If not, please let me know. Sue

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#74366 - 02/02/06 12:34 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Hi Sue, I also felt like a writer long before I put words to paper. Talk about avoidance! What got you out of your ballet slippers, off the piano bench and onto the page? What is your writing discipline like now? Do you wait for the mood to write to strike, or does the mood to write strike once you start writing? Thanks!

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#74367 - 02/02/06 02:15 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Lynn, well, it wasn't that I actually went from piano and ballet into writing. To be honest, I wasn't a particularly good ballerina or pianist! So those creative outlets, over time, kind of drifted away. Now, no, I don't wait for inspiration to strike! Every morning (when I'm not traveling) I get up and write, first thing, before the "world" intrudes too much. And, whether I'm feeling that sense of urgency toward any given piece of work or not, I make myself sit there until I have to do something else, basically. (Well, okay, I eat and stuff.) But, as with all writers, some days seem more productive than others. Even when I end up staring at a blank computer screen...or when I'm writing really boring sentences, I still sit there. And I figure "work" is being done even if it doesn't look like it. I figure the subconscious is still figuring stuff out, and maybe the right words will be there tomorrow! I always hope! Sue

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#74368 - 02/02/06 02:16 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sadie Offline
Member

Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
Welcome Sue,
I am working on a book of my own about my life with and elderly mother and some greedy relatives . I have read Lynnie's book and and love her writing style . Lynnie has changed my life about a lot life my outlook in life .

Iwas watching a show on TV the other night about two women who have founded what they call "Child Help" this is for abused childen . These two women have a place in Calif and other places around the county for abused children go where they can be safe from the abuser . Have you heard of this organization ? I have checked out there web site.

I can't wait to take a writing class one day soon. I was wondering about memories also are we in for questions about the truth to our stories of what has happen in our lives or we have to show proof like court documents .
I studied ballet , but not the piano . Nice to have another dance here .

Just some thoughts on this !

[ February 01, 2006, 06:17 PM: Message edited by: Renee ]

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#74369 - 02/02/06 04:03 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
I am SO glad you are finally here! I've read both of your books and you are such a wonderful writer.

I continue to buy copies of "Father" and find someone who I feel needs them so give them away. I believe you might owe me part of your royalties!

After Love Sick came out, I wondered what your husband's response was, if you care to comment.

Thank you for giving of yourself and your life to help others.

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#74370 - 02/02/06 04:28 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, Renee, how good to hear from you, and to learn that you are working on a book! The topic, about taking care of your mother as well as the greedy relatives, sounds like a story that will interest many people! And good luck with the writing class. I, too, studied writing, and it helped me a great deal, mainly in terms of learning the craft! But I can't imagine those of us who write memoirs needing "factual data" like a court document! Not to worry: after all, while of course a memoir is based on factual material ("this really happened to me"), it isn't as if we walked around with video cameras when we were kids! You know, all I can write is my memory of events, how things seemed to me. For example, if my sister wrote a memoir of our time as children, she'd have very different memories than mine. In other words, a memoir isn't the same as a biography or even an autobiography. Yes, I have heard of the Child Help organization. They are helping so many children. It's an amazing group. Thanks for posting! Sue

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#74371 - 02/02/06 04:35 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Dear Dianne, thank you for such an enthusiastic welcome! And thank you, so VERY much, for your enthusiastic support of my books as well. Wow, this really means a great deal to me. You're right: I probably DO owe you some of my royalty money!

Actually, at the time I even began to write "Love Sick," my husband and I were divorced. Having said this, though, he was still very angry. He didn't like how I portrayed him, for one thing...though I think I was rather generous! I mean, I tried to protect his privacy as much as possible...and not reveal TOO much about him, but of course he's part of my story. So, in that way, I obviously had to include him. Anyway, he's over the anger now and we're (more or less) friends. Thank you, again, for your very generous support of me and my work. This truly means a great deal to me. Sue

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#74372 - 02/02/06 04:46 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
chatty lady Offline
Writer

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 20267
Loc: Nevada
Welcome from the heart Sue...I think the world will see and know that James Frey was a mere flash in the pan and not a credible example of true abuse....My question to you is was your father and/or mother still living when you published your initial book? Did your mother know ahead of time about the abuse? If so what was their response? If not alive then is that the reason you were able to share your story? So glad to have a chance to speak to you.

[ February 01, 2006, 08:47 PM: Message edited by: chatty lady ]

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#74373 - 02/02/06 05:09 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Renee, thanks for what you said about my book! A comment like yours makes me glad that I wrote it. Sue, I'm still curious about your discipline with writing. When you write daily, how long to give yourself? Stephen King says he writes 8 hours a day every day except on Christmas and his birthday. However, I bet he does not have to do the laundry. My time is wasted by 1) housework 2) television. How do you get around the time wasters? Sue, I did not think you were too revealing about your ex in Lovesick. I mean, even if I wanted to, I would not be able to describe him or find him. But I suppose your mutual friends knew of whom you wrote. Protecting privacy to avoid liable suits is an issue with memoirs, isn't it? Thanks always, Lynn

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#74374 - 02/02/06 06:38 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sadie Offline
Member

Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
Sue,
Lynnie has told me so much about you . I want to purchase your book and hope that I can find it in the Barnes and Noble or Borders book stores.

Well, with all this TV coverage on Oprah about Freys' book Million Little Pieces and so of his story was not true , I began to wonder if all I did write a true story and changed the names in my book that I would have trouble selling .
because people would question if this was fact or ficton .

So, I would consider this book I am working on a Memoir . This is good to know and thank you for you help.

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#74375 - 02/02/06 08:52 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Chatty Lady, yes, I agree with you that this Frey issue/controversy is a flash in the pan. Mainly, the media loves a scandal. But as soon as they finish with one scandal, it's on to another! This will all blow over.

I began to write my first memoir two weeks after my parents died! (They died within 6 days of each other.) Actually, my therapist (who knew I was writing fiction at the time) suggested I write the memoir. Is this why I had the courage to write it, because my parents were dead? In many ways, yes, in that I was only "new" to therapy and didn't have a strong sense of myself back then. At the time they died, in other words, I was still rather lost, emotionally. In any event, I do feel sure that my mother knew about the abuse while it was going on. She "chose" not to stop it. Even though she, too, was scared of my father, still, of course, she should have protected me. Sue

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#74376 - 02/02/06 09:08 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Lynnie, Well, if you saw my house, you would know I don't waste time cleaning it! It is in a constant state of disarray! So I figure that not cleaning my house gives me quite a few extra hours to write! Ironically, before I got published, I had more time to write, and probably wrote about 6 hours a day, especially on the days I wasn't teaching. Now, though, I honestly don't have a set number of hours. When I'm not reading my students' work and it's a really quiet day (not too often), I'll write about 5 hours a day. But some days, when I have a lot of student work, I might only write an hour. Mainly, though, I write first thing in the morning. But, as I say, I don't write at all when I'm traveling.

I'm glad you don't think I revealed my ex-husband too much in Love Sick! Nevertheless, yes, one does want to be aware of the possibility of a lawsuit, though I don't think that happens too often. A lawsuit would more likely be over invasion of privacy than libel. And, to be honest, my goal in memoir isn't to invade someone's privacy, anyway. I actually WANT to protect the privacy of others. My sense is that, in creative nonfiction, the book or essay is about me...yes, my reaction to other people, too, of course. But that's just it: it's more my reaction to others...as opposed to actually writing about someone else in any real depth. Is this clear? Let me know if not! Thanks. Sue

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#74377 - 02/02/06 09:17 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Renee, yes, I think one of the "real" bookstores should be able to order my books for you. Or, they're all available on the on-line bookstores, like amazon. Thanks for asking!

Yes, keep writing your memoir, by all means! I don't think anyone was upset because Frey changed people's names; they were upset, is my understanding, because he totally made stuff up. But I think that most people understand that this is the real exception. And, as I say, I think folks will get over this! Sue

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#74378 - 02/03/06 08:52 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, do you mind telling us a little about the writing class you teach? There are tons of writers who frequent these forums.

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#74379 - 02/02/06 10:55 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dotsie, My main teaching job is at the low-residency MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. What's nice about a low-residency program is that it's geared toward non-traditional students. What this means is that most of our students (and faculty) both live and work elsewhere. Twice a year, we go to the main campus in Montpelier, VT, for a 10-day residency, where there are intensive writing workshops, lectures on craft, readings...and where we all get to spend some great time with each other talking about writing and reading. (Of course we have "down" time, too, and just have "fun.") In this program I teach both fiction and creative nonfiction. Of course, poetry is also taught. Then, at the end of this residency, I am given five students with whom I work one-on-one during the rest of the semester. Every month my students send me a packet of their writing, which I critique, and return. Since writing is such a process, it's a great way to learn and study the craft.

In addition to this MFA program, I also teach in what is called a "Post-Graduate Writers' Conference," which is also at Vermont College. Mainly, it's for writers who already have some writing experience, and it's in all genres: short story, novel, poetry, memoir. This year it's from August 10-16, and during this time we have writing workshops, lectures, and readings. Plus, the classes are small--only 5-7 students-- so there's plenty of one-on-one time. Here is the website URL for the writers conference http://www.tui.edu/pgwc/, in case you want more information. Sue

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#74380 - 02/02/06 10:57 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Oh, and here is the URL for the regular MFA program at Vermont College. (Vermont College is "owned" by the Union Institute and University, so don't be thrown off.) http://www.tui.edu/programs/masters_mfaw.asp. Thanks! Sue

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#74381 - 02/02/06 11:24 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
jawjaw Offline
Da Queen

Registered: 07/02/03
Posts: 12025
Loc: Alabama
Sue,
As you can see everybody wants to pick your brain. You are so admired, not only for the courage of writing your memoir, but for your ability to write which is, in my opinion, outstanding. I wish the college were closer as I would LOVE to be in the MFA program.

My question is "what are you doing now as far as writing?" Is there a novel in the works? Or two?
Oh I just had a horrible thought...PLEASE STAY OUT OF THE HUMOR BIZ...k? hahaha...

JJ

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#74382 - 02/02/06 11:33 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Oh, thank you, JJ. That's so sweet. And I wish you could be in the MFA program, too. We have a lot of fun.

Right now I'm writing essays (no, not humor!), with the hope that they will all coalesce into a collection! I'm probably a little more than half way through. Generally, the theme is about those quietly "potent" moments in which we have revelations, or learn something about ourselves or the world. In other words, after writing about rather "big" events in the two memoirs, I now want to explore the more quiet moments in my life. By the way, one of the essays that is very short, is published on brevity.com. If you want to read it, here's a direct link: http://www.creativenonfiction.org/brevity/brev17/silverman_arch.htm. Thanks! Sue

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#74383 - 02/03/06 01:22 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
JJ, I was at the workshop last summer with Sue at Vermont College. Participants come from all over the country, and even from abroad. My goal is to get the MFA in Creative Nonfiction with Sue as my main faculty. I would have embarked on this already but two good things came my way this year which took financial priority 1) our new house with a mighty mortgage 2) my trip to Europe in May. EVERYONE who had obtained their MFA from Vermont College who was at the writer's conference last August said it was one of the best things they could have ever done for themselves. If you don't want to embark on the entire MFA journey, I would recommend the writer's conference. I would go this year too, but I have to go to my grandmother's 100th birthday that week in August. There are not enough good words in the dictionary to describe the experience at the post grad writer's conference at VC. But bring your own food and a fan for your room.

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#74384 - 02/03/06 01:39 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
I frequented the message boards in the aftermath of Frey's appearance on Oprah. The upset was in regards to the fact that Frey promoted his book as a memoir-in-fact when it was deliberately embellished and fabricated for marketing purposes. (that's a paraphrase of some of his own words.) Renee, I had no problem special ordering " Because I Remember..." from Barnes & Noble standing bricks & morter book store. Sue, I completely understand about the invasion of privacy. As you know, I write about my father and my brother molesting me. Although my father is dead, my brother is not. Yet I want to protect my brother's privacy, mostly for the sake of his children and my grandmother. Besides, since he was never convicted, I could be sued if I named him in fact. It's not so much about WHO he is but WHAT he did, right? And it's about the results of incest, such as addictions. I wrote about my mother and father in depth because incest families are typically so enmeshed...it's hard to know where parents end and children begin. Wow, It's really something that in each of our cases our therapists encouraged us to write our memoirs. In my case, I had to mull it over for 2 decades before beginning. Good thing I kept journals. What was the impetus for your first sentence? By the way, Sue is too modest to mention that she has earned an honorary doctorate for her work. Love you Sue! Love and Light, Lynn

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#74385 - 02/03/06 01:39 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Thanks for all the good comments about Vermont College, Lynn! I'm VERY appreciative. We really had a wonderful group last summer, and I'll miss you this summer. Oh, just so you know: the college now has a new group of chefs, so the food has improved dramatically!

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#74386 - 02/03/06 01:49 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
I'm sorry to be a forum hog. Sue, I read this at the brevity site: "At Horn & Hardart, dinner was conjured behind little glass windows--an apparition right here at 182 Broadway. Roast chicken, seaweedy spinach, banana cream pie. Rich island-bean coffee poured from dolphin-head spouts. Here, a fistful of silver coins bought paradise, warm and perfect. Green and crimson apples glowed as delicious as sunsets." Who remembers Horn & Hardart? I do! Is it still there? Or is it a McDonald's now? Sue, what a way to bring paradise to NYC. Thanks for sharing that link. I'm going back for more!

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#74387 - 02/03/06 02:11 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Always wonderful to hear from you, Lynn. And thank you so much for your comments about my essay. Very appreciated. (I'm sure all of the Horn and Hardarts have gone out of business, alas.) I might also mention that I wrote an article about the use of "voice" in creative nonfiction, that's also posted on brevity.com, but it's in a different section. Here is a direct link to it: http://www.creativenonfiction.org/brevity/craft/craft_voice.htm. Thanks! Sue

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#74388 - 02/03/06 04:18 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Sue, why does our generation seem to be so much more willing to talk about what happened to us than our parent's generation?

I just connected with four of my cousins because of my book on abuse and all of them have shared their own horror stories. I was shocked. We all kept our secrets very well.

I'm really going through a discovery process because of these long lost connections.

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#74389 - 02/03/06 07:30 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, Dianne, I agree with you that people are much more open to talking about difficult and scary personal issues than past generations. Probably quite a few reasons...one, perhaps, because we rebelled against the "shut-down" 1950s, all tied into the anti-war movement, the women's movement, even, ironically, the sexual revolution, in that we were always so "out there." But am I getting too far afield? Well, certainly the women's movement helped for our voices to be heard. Publishers, for example, publish many more women today than they did in the 1950s and '60s. Too, just think about the revolution in the therapeutic field. Back in the '50s, there were really only Freudian analysts. Very expensive. Very inaccessible. Now there are social workers and therapists all over the place. Probably even television helped us speak out. I remember years ago maybe the first TV movie about incest called (I think) "Something about Amalie." (I may have the wrong title.) But one movie like this helped, I'm sure, thousands of women feel as if it was safe to speak out. And, of course, from that, all the TV talk shows! In any event, I think that's so positive that you were able to discuss these issues with your cousins. And, you're right, this never would have happened years ago. Thanks for such an interesting question. Sue

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#74390 - 02/03/06 07:12 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, I absolutely loved the beautiful way you wrote about St. Thomas.

I have been there a couple times (in the city where you lived) and I enjoyed visiting again with you. Though most of what you were going through was horrid, you still stirred fond memories for me by your creative use of the English language.

While reading all your lovely decriptive words of the island, I couldn't help but wonder how much editing you did to create such perfect visuals for your readers.

Mind telling us a little about your editing process?

HAve you read Stephen King's book on writing? One of my favorite parts is the back of the book where he shows his draft marked up with all the editing. It was remarkable.

I thought someone like him sat down and cranked out novels with little editing. Boy was I wrong.

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#74391 - 02/04/06 08:46 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dotsie, thank you so much for your comments about my essay, “Archipelago.” I’m so pleased you like it. Oh, the revision process! I almost feel as if all writing is revision. I revise and revise and revise. This essay went through a particularly “odd” journey in that it began as a poem. In my poetry collection, "Hieroglyphics in Neon," there is a poem called “Nonstop,” which also explores this contrast between the magic of the islands and the magic of New York City, but, of course, in verse. Then, when I began to work on this current project, an essay collection, I wanted to see if I could re-envision this same feeling in prose. So not only did the poem go through numerous revisions, so did the essay.

Generally speaking, when I begin any piece, I first try to take it through a full draft, see what I’ve got, get a sense as to whether I really have anything to say on this topic, whatever it is. To me, this is the toughest draft! I much prefer to rewrite, once I have some words on a page, even if the words are thin and rather uninteresting. Anyway, after this initial draft, I would say that a conservative estimate is about 15 revisions…though certain sections of a piece might go through even more. In terms of revision, the “movement” is from the “global” concerns of a piece (plot, character development, metaphor) down to, well, comma placement, or the seemingly smaller concerns.

Of course, some pieces are tougher than others. While it took me about 3 months to write “Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You,” it took me 5 years to write “Love Sick.” Since I wasn’t sure what I was doing with “Love Sick,” I saved most of my drafts, and I would say I had stacks of paper that, if lined up against a wall, would be about 4 feet long and 4 feet high. Maybe more. That’s a lot of paper! And a lot of revision. And even though of course it’s frustrating at times (and scary that I might never figure this out!), it’s also part of the journey, part of the process of writing. To me, writing is like following a whisper…seeing where I am led. Sue

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#74392 - 02/04/06 07:29 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Sue, are you familiar with Marilyn Van Derber's book and organization? Her book and yours are the two best out there.

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#74393 - 02/04/06 09:17 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, yes, I am familiar with Marilyn Van Derbur and her organization. In fact, quite a few years ago, when I lived in Georgia, I attended one of her speeches in Atlanta. She's an amazing speaker, by the way...very powerful and moving. However, oddly, I'm not familiar with her book, and this is the first time I've heard of it! What's the name of it? Glad to know it's out there, so thanks for letting me know. I'll definitely read it. Sue

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#74394 - 02/05/06 01:20 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Following a whisper. I love that.

I can't beleive it only took three months to write your first book.

Can you tell us why you were able to write it so quickly? Had you rehearsed parts of it in your mind?

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#74395 - 02/05/06 01:58 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, That first memoir was just one of those gifts from the universe. And while, no, I hadn’t rehearsed parts in my head, I had been trying to write my story as fiction. So, in that sense, I had a head start. Also, I’d been writing for well over ten years before I started it. So since I’d been writing for so long, I already felt relatively comfortable with the techniques of writing—-many of which are the same whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction (things such as structure, character development, dialogue, etc.). Still, nothing else I’ve written has come this quickly. Nothing! Usually, it’s a really long haul before a piece “comes to life.” As I mentioned, it took five years to write the second book. Plus, it’s taken me way more than three months just to write a poem. Or an essay!

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#74396 - 02/05/06 09:03 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Review of Miss America By Day: Lessons Learned from Ultimate Betrayals and Unconditional Love by Marilyn Van Derbur, Oak Hill Ridge Press, Denver, CO: 2003. ISBN: 0-9728-298-4-9, Autobiography/Abuse

Marilyn Van Derbur, a native of Colorado, is one of four daughters of a prominent Denver businessman (he is deceased). Her father was on numerous boards and committees, was honored with buildings named for him, and was president of “all the college fraternities in America.” Both parents were active volunteers, donating time and money to culture and civic organizations. Marilyn’s mother would often state that she had the “perfect marriage” and Marilyn was told that she was “blessed by being born into a perfect family.” Marilyn’s life appeared to be perfect, as depicted by the smiles in the pictures she shares throughout the book. Marilyn was crowned Miss America while she was attending the University of Colorado in 1958. When she graduated (with honors) Marilyn was a guest host on Candid Camera and a panelist on To Tell the Truth, as well as in commercials. She also waved to the public while in the Cotton Bowl and Thanksgiving Parades. She chose motivational speaking as her career, and was named the “Outstanding Woman Speaker in America” and was inducted to the “Colorado Woman’s Hall of Fame.” Indeed, anyone reading her story might experience a twinge of envy for all the fame and fortune that seemed to come to her so easily and effortlessly.

Except…Marilyn suffered from physical symptoms including insomnia, tics, ulcers, and panic attacks. When her body and mind rebelled against the constant travel, she experienced full body paralysis, yet doctors found no organic cause. What else might Marilyn be rebelling against? She had to search her mind and spirit to find the answers.

One of Marilyn’s earliest memories is of her mother reading the Bible before bed. Another of Marilyn’s earliest memories is of her father entering his daughter’s bed after dark. What came next was repressed for decades until Marilyn realized that her father had committed incest from the time she was five until eighteen, an estimated six hundred times. All the while, her mother knew. Marilyn shares her split between the “night child” victim in contrast to the “day child” over-achiever. The physical symptoms she had endured were a manifestation of the connection between child sexual abuse and adult ailments.

Marilyn writes, “I had never prayed. I didn’t want a more powerful father and I knew, deep inside, that the Father my mother was praying to when I was a child wasn’t protecting me.” However, when her story went public via the Denver media and People magazine, she asked of a Higher Power: “I want to help…If you show me the way …I will do whatever you ask me to do.” Thus began the next chapter of Marilyn’s life. She writes that it is “my mission to educate judges, doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, therapists, and especially parents” about child sexual abuse. Not only does she educate with this book and her speeches, she also helps victims become survivors by sharing her healing journey. Throughout the book, Marilyn also shares with the reader her relationships with her husband and daughter, and the reader relishes in the emotional relief their unconditional love offers Marilyn. Ultimately, Marilyn manages to find peace.

I would recommend this book as an astonishing story and educational tool regarding child abuse and sexual assault.

Review written by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story

Also one of the best books out there on the topic!

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#74397 - 02/05/06 09:05 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Since this is the forum I am frequenting lately, I wanted everyone to know that I will be gone for a while because there has been a death in the family. I have to go from CO to PA for a week. Sue, I want you to know that I support your work and your presence as featured author, and I will catch up as soon as I can. Love and Light to all, Lynn

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#74398 - 02/05/06 06:24 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
jawjaw Offline
Da Queen

Registered: 07/02/03
Posts: 12025
Loc: Alabama
Lynnie,
I'm so sorry to hear this. I will be praying for you and your family during this time.

JJ

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#74399 - 02/05/06 07:40 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Dear Lynn, I am so very sad to learn about the death in your family. Please know that I am thinking of you during this time.

Thanks so much for posting the review of Marilyn Van Derbur's book.

Too, I want you to know that I am truly appreciative of your support. Your wonderful presence in this forum will be missed! love, Sue

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#74400 - 02/06/06 08:00 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
chickadee Offline
Member

Registered: 09/26/04
Posts: 3910
Loc: Alabama
Lynnie, I too am sorry to hear this. I have you all in my prayers. Have a safe trip.
Sue, I am enjoying you as this month's author.
I have a childhood friend who decided to speak out about her father years later. When the news was out, I called her and spent the weekend at her home. She told me everything...
No one wanted to believe her.
She decided to tell it all when her father wanted to start taking her son out with him on weekends.
Why do 'most' people want to believe it is a lie rather that admit that this possibly happened? Many of her/our friends said to me, What if Janie(not real name) is lying. My biggest worry was "What if she's not?" or "Please let her be lying!"
I made a concious choice to believe every word she said. I don't know why. Mostly because if she did experience such horror, she needed someone who truly cared. If she wasn't honest about it, then she had another problem and still needed a caring friend.
(Janie) took her parents to court but nothing was done. She believes her Mom turned a blind eye. Insult added to injury. When I see her again this year, I will mention your book, Sue.
chick

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#74401 - 02/05/06 09:21 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Dear Chick, thank you for the lovely welcome. I agree with you that it’s shocking and amazing how people don’t want to believe that child abuse happens. Why?

One reason, I think, is that frequently there’s such a disconnect between the (public) man people think they know…and the dark soul of the man who is a secret. In other words, frequently these men (such as my father or Marilyn Van Derbur’s) are, professionally, very successful. They seemingly have lots of friends. Oh, you know, as part of my father’s business, my parents always entertained a lot. So I think it’s difficult for people to totally re-think their vision of these men. But of course we know that people lead double lives all the time. And, in fact, my family’s seemingly normal life was a mask or a façade that hid the dark, incestuous reality.

Another reason for this denial is that I think child abuse (in one form or another) is so prevalent that, for people to admit it happened to someone else, forces them to look at themselves—at their own families—and, therefore, maybe admit that their families aren’t/weren’t as “happy” as they want to believe. Our society seems so seeped in denial. It’s frightening.

Plus, sadly, children’s (and women’s) voices have traditionally been so discounted—not heard. Children are treated as “property,” owned by parents. They have no rights. And when those of us have no “rights,” our voices aren’t heard.

I wrote an article a few years ago for the Chicago Tribune (unfortunately I don’t have an e-copy), about how child abuse should be seen as a human rights issue. After all, children living with abusive parents are like prisoners of war, their parents terrorists holding them captives. So, my sense is that we're a society, a culture, that's used to silence, to keeping secrets. And I think the breaking of silence threatens many people!

That’s so important that you’re supporting your friend in this most profound way. I know this means so much to her, to have you hear her voice. We all need friends like you! Sue

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#74402 - 02/05/06 10:08 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
chickadee Offline
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Registered: 09/26/04
Posts: 3910
Loc: Alabama
Sue, Janie's Dad owned a tavern. Everyone liked him. Well most everyone. My Mom called me and said, " You need to be there for Janie."
After the court date, Janie tried to commit suicide. She is a nurse and knows how. She was found by someone who just happened to drop by.(A miracle angel)There may be some liver damage.
They let me in ICU. When I asked her why?, she said..."I wanted to die, to prove that I am telling the truth."
I know I am rambling on, Sue. I hope I haven't gone too far astray in what you want to accomplish here. Just one more question? I think I know the answer but I'd like to hear your views on it.
Janie was sexually abused from the age of three, well into her married years. When her husband left town on business, her Dad(who had a key) dropped by after midnight while her 3 children slept. Janie didn't know how to make it stop. No one could understand how a grown married woman wouldn't tell her husband about this.
This is all about his power, isn't it?
chick

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#74403 - 02/05/06 11:02 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Chick, You’re not rambling on at all! Your questions and comments mean a lot to me. Thank you so much for participating in this important way.

That is truly sad and scary that your friend tried to commit suicide. I’m so very sorry to hear this. Thank goodness that someone happened to find her in time.

To me, I totally understand that Janie didn’t tell her husband and that the abuse continued with her father, even after she was married—that she wasn’t able to stop it. You’re absolutely right: this is all about power and control. Even though, in terms of age, she was an adult, still, emotionally, how could she have grown up since her father had stolen her childhood from her at such an early age? Even though my father stopped molesting me when I left home for college, I, too, was trapped in an emotionally immature period. That’s why the sexual addiction continued for years; I continued to act out the behavior my father had taught me. Since my father, like Janie’s, stole my sense of “self,” I couldn’t protect myself. In other words, I had NO sense of my own power. And it sounds as if the same is true for Janie. I truly hope that now Janie can find the help she deserves. The journey is long. But there IS help and hope out there! Thanks for sharing this with us, Chick! Sue

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#74404 - 02/06/06 09:41 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, in the Domestic Violence forum the women are talking about old habits and triggers.

Do you mind sharing how you blocked out such things during your recovery?

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#74405 - 02/06/06 11:33 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dotsie, first let me say it was a long, long process journeying through recovery. It’s not as if changing old habits happened quickly or smoothly for me. I had many set backs. Many relapses. However, the following is what most helped me:

In order to change habits and behaviors, I mainly had to be totally committed in my recovery from the sexual addiction (and eating disorder). Therefore, my recovery was modeled on the 12-Step program, what is most commonly used in Alcoholics Anonymous. (I wasn’t an alcoholic, I’m only referring to a kind of model used in addiction recovery, in general.) In other words, all my therapy--the group therapy, as well as the 28 days I spent in a rehab unit-- were all based on this idea that there’s “power in the group.” I was not emotionally healthy enough to stay “sober” or keep myself safe on my own. In fact, my therapist always let me know that he, on his own, couldn’t “keep” me safe, either. He knew that I needed, in fact, a group to help me. In addition, part of the recovery consisted of finding a “force” (Higher Power, whatever you want to call it) more powerful than the addiction.

In other words, as a sex addict, when I was acting out, nothing could stop me. An addict wants what she wants when she wants it. And, as with all addicts, I had a lot of pain to numb, so I acted out with some regularity. (I used sex like a drug to numb my feelings, the pain of what had happened to me as a child.) Therefore, I needed a group, the power of a group, to help me stay safe.

This idea of “power in the group” works on a couple of levels. First, once I formed friendships with the other women in my group, then I more easily came to understand that if one of my friends were to act out sexually with a “dangerous” man, this would not be healthy for her! So, the more I could see how this would hurt my friends, then the obvious conclusion was that it would hurt me, too! “What’s unhealthy or hurtful for my friends, is also hurtful for me!” Too, in the 12-step type of groups, you get lots of phone numbers, friends to call before you act out. Friends who will help you stay sober. Oh, to be honest, once I’d made about 8 or 9 phone calls (or whatever it would take), who had the energy to go act out! You know, letting that secret go (that I wanted to act out), helped diffuse things quite well!

In short, the recovery that most helped me was being part of a group, being emotionally honest, and letting go of secrets. These were the keys.

If you’d like to know more about my addiction and recovery, you might also like to read a couple of things that are on the web:

I have the first chapter of my memoir, “Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction,” on my website, www.suewilliamsilverman.com. (Click on the book title on the column on the right-hand side of the Home page.)

You can also reach an article I wrote, “Me and My Addict,” by going to my website, then scrolling down to the section called “Quick Links.” It’s in this right-hand column at the bottom.

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#74406 - 02/07/06 06:10 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Sue, do you feel you have completely forgiven your parents? Are there times when anger over the injustice of it all creeps back into your thoughts?

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#74407 - 02/07/06 07:29 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
chatty lady Offline
Writer

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 20267
Loc: Nevada
I too agree Sue that honesty is so needed for a person to heal. In the forum here I fear too many only hear what others think they want to hear and not the real cold hard facts they need to help them heal. I was lucky enough to have people who loved me enough to give me those hard facts and it made me see I was killing myself with self pity and in my case that was all wrong. I try to speak honestly, helpfully when asked for advice and get rejection and mud slinging in return. Has that ever happened to you?

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#74408 - 02/07/06 08:47 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dianne, actually, I’m not sure I’d exactly use the word “forgiveness.” I mean, since my parents didn’t ask to be forgiven, I can’t say that I have done so in this specific way. (Too, I’m not sure I think that a crime against a child should be forgiven.) However, having said this, more importantly, I HAVE worked through the anger to a large extent. I mean it took many years of therapy, but I have reached a place of relative peace about my life. So the anger that once pretty much ruled my life, isn’t with me in the same way any more. I mean, sure, there are times when I’m angry, but not nearly as often, or as strongly. So this, to me, is the most important thing. In other words, even though of course I have bad days, like anyone, I really have moved on with my life for the most part. But this is a tricky subject, that of forgiveness. And I think each of us has to find her own way through it! Sue

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#74409 - 02/07/06 09:03 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, Chatty Lady, I think, most important to me, is to focus on my own emotional honesty. I mean, all I can share with friends is how I feel about something, speak in those terms, and hope that what I say is heard. If, however, someone chooses not to hear my feelings, then I know I can’t force the issue. So I think that’s very positive that you have had many supportive people who hear you! Sue

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#74410 - 02/07/06 09:06 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, I would think it's hard for you to speak to audiences about your trials and tribulations. Do you allow them to ask questions? And if they do, isn't it hard to be reminded of what you've been through? I know I want to aks you things, but fear bringing them up and having you relive them.

Does this make sense?

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#74411 - 02/07/06 09:11 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
I might add that I am in awe of what you do for other women. It is selfless because I'm sure it isn't always easy. I sense you do it all for the good of others. But what about yourself. Is it good for you too?

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#74412 - 02/07/06 09:58 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, Dotsie, yes, I always do a lengthy question-and-answer session after a speech or reading. In fact, almost always, the Q&A period lasts longer than the speech! To me, this is a very important part of what I do. Mainly, it’s important to me to hear what concerns the members of the audience—what kind of journey they’re on. I can address specific uncertainties and fears. I actually find speaking to others more healing and empowering than scary. So, truly, no need at all to be uncertain about asking me any specific question. Not at all. I am comfortable. I’m very appreciative that you asked, though! Thank you. Sue

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#74413 - 02/08/06 07:39 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sadie Offline
Member

Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
Sue,
When people come to your speech and hear your readings do you feel that maybe one person in the room that this is a healing time for them . What I mean by this maybe this has brought closure to there life .When I look for closure and I know that not all the doors in my life will be closed , but sometimes we have to except that and move on . I not sure who told me that , but it has helped the healing .

Sometimes , for some people it can take your whole life time to heal and some people never heal the pain of abuse .

[ February 07, 2006, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: Renee ]

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#74414 - 02/08/06 08:08 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Renee, so good to hear from you. Yes, I do think that, for some people who attend my readings, it is part of their healing journey. After the reading—and the question period—I always stay around to talk individually with people. Frequently, some will share a bit of their own story with me, let me know about a difficult childhood, or some other struggle. Yes, I think you’re right that for some, healing or closure can be a lifetime journey; I also think, though, that there are different stages one goes through. Oh, you know, we learn different things about ourselves, or our feelings, etc. as we move forward. So in that sense, it’s maybe a matter of always growing. Though I think you’re also right that, sadly, maybe some never heal from childhood pain, or feel as if they can’t move forward. That is the sad part. Sue

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#74415 - 02/08/06 07:52 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
chickadee Offline
Member

Registered: 09/26/04
Posts: 3910
Loc: Alabama
Sue, I appreciate you answering my questions about Janie. Janie is a beautiful, kind, fun loving person. She continues to work in the hospital and is a very caring nurse. When I visit her again, I'd like to tell her about you and your book and our conversations, yet I am a little weary about opening up old wounds. I am going to play it by air. I commend you for writing your story and sharing it with the world. It takes a mighty fine, strong caring individual to be so unselfish.
chick

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#74416 - 02/09/06 08:46 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, your book is the most descriptive I've ever read about child abuse.

How you described what you went through often made me c r i n g e and gave me goose bumps. The scene with your father in the back bedroom with the bottle and glass made me want to vomit. I felt sick to my stomach.

Your writing style is out of this world. YOur honesty is admirable.

I honestly don't understand how your mom could be in the other room and not come to your defense.

Was dealing with your mother's lack of defense a huge part of recovery?

To my knowledge, you never spoke with her about this. If not, why not?

I hope I'm not being too nosey. It is not my intention. I ask so others who are holding secrets might learn how to deal with the ignorance of family members.

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#74417 - 02/08/06 09:43 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Thank you for all you say, Chick. This truly means a great deal to me. Yes, I think once you’re with your friend, you’ll have more of a sense as to what to say to her and what not. Also, if appropriate, you could invite her to join this forum—at least read the posts. For me, part of the recovery was knowing that I wasn't alone. That this had happened to others. Sue

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#74418 - 02/08/06 09:52 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
smilinize Offline
Member

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3512
Loc: outer space
I have a friend whose daughter has apparently falsely accused her deceased father of sexual abuse. My friend went through terrible pain and guilt only to discover that the repressed memories were of incidents that could not have occurred because the father was not in the home at the time.

The daughter is now in therapy and among other things is diagnosed with a hysterical personality. Apparently she saw something on TV about repressed memories and somehow convinced herself she had been sexually abused.

Sue, I wondered if you had ever encountered this and if you have any advice on how to handle it.

smile

[ February 08, 2006, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: smilinize ]

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#74419 - 02/08/06 09:54 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dotsie, I know my book can be scary to read, which is all the more reason why I am deeply touched that you’ve read it. Thank you.

And you’re not being nosy with your questions, not at all. This is why I've been looking forward to participating in this forum, to have these conversations with all of you!

Yes, dealing with the fact that my mother didn’t protect me was a huge part of recovery. In one of the previous posts we talked about anger, and I definitely had a great deal of anger toward her—anger that I had to work through in recovery.

Actually, my mother and I had one brief conversation about what happened. I was in rehab at the time, feeling a bit safe, and I said something to her like: “I was sexually molested as a child.”

And she responded something like, “Oh, your father. Well, we didn’t know about things like that back then. And I had a terrible childhood, too.”

Can you imagine? So, after this conversation, it was clear that there was nothing else I could ever say to her. But I’ve found that a “real” confrontation isn’t necessary for recovery. I mean, it’s an individual choice: some people I know feel it’s important; but I discovered that, for me, I didn’t have to. I mean, what’s more important is that I’m emotionally honest within myself, that I “confront” these issues within myself.

And if I HAD tried to confront my father I would NOT have received an apology! He probably would have gone into a rage, which would, in the end, have been more hurtful to me.

Anyway, for those of us who write, we get the last word anyway, don’t we?! Sue

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#74420 - 02/08/06 10:14 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Smile, that sounds like a very sad situation. No, I don’t know anyone who has gone through this. That sounds odd, though, to receive a diagnosis of a “hysterical personality.” I didn’t know women still received such a diagnosis. Gosh, I mean, I thought that was back in Freud’s time?

Anyway, of course it’s also possible that someone else molested her…or that it all happened within another time frame. I’ve always felt that if someone has symptoms, that these symptoms arise from something. I mean, even if you want to call it “hysterical,” WHY is she hysterical, is what I'd wonder? I don’t think we’re born hysterical…any more than we’re born addicts. My sense is that something happens to cause these behaviors.

Looking back on it, in fact, I can see how I, too, could have received such a diagnosis, in that I had “hysterics,” and “temper tantrums,” whatever you want to call it. But of course there was a reason why. I was trying to let others know that I was having an emergency. I just didn’t have the language, back then, to “speak” aloud what my father was doing.

I mean, obviously I don’t know what happened in this situation with your friend. Nor am I a psychologist. So I’m just wondering aloud here.

But, okay, you’re asking for advice. Sorry if I went off on a tangent. Yet, to be honest, my advice would be not to necessarily discount the daughter’s problems as totally something she made up. I mean, maybe she did; but, as I say, it could be that something (else) happened to her. And it might be beneficial to the whole family to discover what…if that makes sense? Sue

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#74421 - 02/08/06 11:28 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
smilinize Offline
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Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3512
Loc: outer space
I have heard most of that story from the mother though I did talk to the daughter once. Apparently, she was lead to some "repressed memory" by a therapist after watching a TV show and reading a book about sexual abuse. She was also using drugs and at one time planned to sue her mother for not reporting the abuse or something and later planned to sue the therapist.

After changing therapists, and confronting her mother, apparently the memories were proven to be false. The mother was terribly hurt and is still in pain about the whole thing though I believe they have recently reconciled. The mother sometimes confides in me and I have no idea how to respond.

You mentioned symptoms. What are the symptoms?

smile

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#74422 - 02/08/06 11:52 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Smile, thanks for the clarification. How upsetting. This situation sounds awful. Symptoms would be any kind of “acting out” behavior like hysteria…though I’m not sure I’d use that word. But emotions that seem very powerful yet not consistent with what is going on at the time. For example, I would go into uncontrollable weeping over a seemingly “innocuous” event, because what I was REALLY reacting to was the past--but I didn’t know how it. Then, behaviors/symptoms such as drug abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, sex addictions. Numbing of feelings. Not being in touch with authentic feelings. For example, before recovery, I had plenty of anger, but it wasn’t directed at the appropriate person: my father. Rather, I’d get angry at myself or others.

In terms of how to respond to the mother when she confides in you--maybe just let her know that you’re her friend and are there to “hear” her. In other words, regardless of the topic, I frequently find that what a person wants isn’t so much advice, but, rather, just someone to listen to them. These situations are tough, though, I know. Sue

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#74423 - 02/09/06 12:48 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
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Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Sue, we were discussing this on my site. Why is it that some women come out of abuse strong and determined while others go on to be fragile and reluctant? I'm sure personality plays a part in this but is there some resounding quality that makes a difference that you might have noticed in your work?

My sister has blacked out most of our childhood while I remember every minute!

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#74424 - 02/09/06 01:25 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, Dianne, this is really a good and important question. You’re absolutely right. I mean, you take someone like Susan Smith, who was sexually abused by her step-father, and she drowned both her sons, while others have a wide range of “safer” reactions, as you mention. In a general way, it seems some turn their anger outward, while some turn it inward. Why this happens, I’m not sure, either.

The only thing I might mention is that a friend of mine, a clinical psychologist, seems to think that for those of us who seem, eventually, to work through it, also seem to have some creative outlet, some strong coping mechanism as children until we can get “real” help—usually as adults. For example, one way of creatively dealing with child abuse is to create “alter” personas. (I don’t really call them multiple personalities, but you know what I mean.) And/or other children maybe draw a lot. With me, even though I only really started writing as an adult, still, as a child, I envisioned the world and found “magic” in it in many sensory ways—ways that eventually evolved into writing. For me, this was a coping mechanism.

But then you ask why do some children have these coping mechanisms while others don’t? And while I wish I had an answer for this, I’m afraid I don’t! It may just be what you suggest: personality traits. Sorry, I wish I could offer more insight on this! Oh, I just have to say that my sister sounds a lot like yours! Sue

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#74425 - 02/09/06 02:17 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
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Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
I began "coping" at an early age and started counting things. It turned into some strong OCD that I've managed to get a grip on but when I'm stressed, I count more.

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#74426 - 02/09/06 03:26 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dianne, yes, I understand that kind of coping mechanism. I, too, could get totally involved with "things," anything not to feel or even notice my "real" life. Sue

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#74427 - 02/09/06 07:13 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
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Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, have you maintained freindships with your childhood friends? If so, are they aware of what you went through as a child?

I loved the part in your book when you spoke of your friend's pajama party. I so badly wanted more of those experiences for you as a child. Even if you did steal the pajamas. I thought it was precious the way you returned them! [Wink]

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#74428 - 02/09/06 07:16 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
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Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Oh, and I loved Christopher. Ever see, or hear about him?

I just ran into my very first boyfriend at a high school basketball game the other night. I hadn't laid eyes on him in 30 years. My heart went a flutter, my face turned red, and I was immediately taken back to the ice rink where we met. I think I was stumbling over my words. What a doofus. Me, not him.

[ February 09, 2006, 11:17 AM: Message edited by: Dotsie ]

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#74429 - 02/09/06 09:44 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dotsie, ironically, just this past November, I attended my high school reunion. Previous to that, I’d lost all contact with everyone. But with the reunion (and all the flurry of emails leading up to it), yes, now my high school friends know about the incest. And they’ve all been truly supportive of me. So telling them has been a very positive experience. Of course, as one would have guessed, I’m NOT the only one who had a difficult childhood. It’s just no one talked about things back then, so we’re all only discussing it now.

However, Christopher, my boyfriend, did not attend the reunion. I do have his email address and have been trying to work up the courage to contact him. I’m just not sure what to say. What’s so very sad is that Lynn (his “other” girlfriend whom I write about in my book) committed suicide a few years after we graduated high school. Isn’t that strange, that he was torn between the two of us who were equally struggling—though neither of us showed it at the time. I always thought she was “fine” in high school.

That’s fascinating that you just ran into your first boyfriend! I can understand your reaction! I know if I saw Christopher, I would be tongue-tied, confused, etc. Those early relationships are amazingly powerful!

I’m so pleased you like the pajama party scene in my book. Whenever I give a reading, I always read it! Sue

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#74430 - 02/11/06 06:44 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sadie Offline
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Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
Sue,
Hello again ! I have question for you . I purchased a magazine called "Writer's Digest " they have so many wonderful ideas about how to get started in writing . As you know I have started my book and had to stop for now . I am Chairman of my high class reunion committee. .

In the Writer's Digest there is an article called Gaining Perspective . In this she explains the exercies of trying to recature a sceen from your childhood , for example a summer day at the pool and the color of your bike, etc.

Did you first keep a journal of the abuse by your father ? I have notes that I took and court hearing paper and picture that I have to go one to write , but I think I will start putting this down in a journal , What do you suggest !

I am going to sign up for a writing course at our local college here in town and have it audited .


One more thing I wanted to tell you . I have membership to the American Thyroid Foundation and in there news letter "The Bridge" they were asking for your expercies with thyroid surgery . I emailed them my story and they liked it so much that they emailed me back and said several months ago that they were thinking of pubishing my story and would get back to me. I just received an email that they had edited my story and to look it over . My rely was just as good as my excitment about helping someone out that will have upcoming surgery and very scared .

This is a start and will send you the link when the editor sends me and email soon.

Just had to share with you,
Renee

[ February 10, 2006, 10:57 PM: Message edited by: Renee ]

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#74431 - 02/11/06 07:39 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Renee, A big congratulations about your story being published by the American Thyroid Foundation! I know it will help many people. Yes, please send the link when it's up.

I actually didn’t keep a journal, but I STILL think it’s a very good idea to keep one! The only reason why I didn’t keep one is because I’d never really planned to write about my own life. I wrote fiction for years before I began to write the memoir. So, when I did start to write the memoir, it was rather suddenly—at the suggestion of my therapist—and shortly after my parents died. In other words, had I planned it in advance, I probably would have begun by making notes and journaling.

The suggestion of the Writer’s Digest, in terms of an exercise, is excellent. In case you’re interested, here are a few other suggestions for exercises, what you might try including in a journal:

Recall a photograph from childhood. Write a paragraph about it using the voice of who you were (the young girl) when the photo was taken. Next, write a paragraph about it through the voice of who you are now.

Do the same with a room from your childhood. Write two paragraphs, one describing the room using the voice of who you were when a child. Then, through the voice of who you are now.

With both of these exercises, be sure to use all five senses in the description: taste, touch, smell, sound, sight.

In your journal, write a letter to someone who hurt you as a child, telling him or her your feelings toward what they did to you. (Note: this letter is only for your journal, not to be mailed.)

In your journal, write a letter to your inner child, telling her how you feel about her.

Decribe a dream as if it were in black and white. Describe the dream in color. Describe the dream using the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. How does the dream make you feel? Which elements of the dream remind you of childhood? Which images remind you of sensory moments from childhood? What are they?

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#74432 - 02/12/06 06:18 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sadie Offline
Member

Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
Sue,
Thank you so much this is a big help to me . I plan on buying a journel at the book store . There are lots of pictures that mother gave me that my brother didn't want them.
I am very happy that mother let me have the family pictures before she went into the nursing home . In fact the pictures are in a box at my computer . I have written some on the computer in my word files , but had to stop .

Asways a pleasure talking with you Sue,

Renee

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#74433 - 02/12/06 07:10 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Renee, always a pleasure to talk to you, too! That's great that you have so many family photographs. It amazes me how much can be learned by studying them...and then writing about them, too. For example, in almost all of my family photos, when I am a little girl, I am standing or sitting close to my father--almost as if he's claming me--while my sister stands just slightly separate from the rest of us, as if she wished she didn't belong to us (which is probably, on some level, true). These photos just reveal so much! So I'm thinking you have a wealth of material in your photo box! Basically, I think that all of these mementos can be important prompts in our writing! Sue

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#74434 - 02/12/06 09:50 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sadie Offline
Member

Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
Sue,
Our photos can almost tell our story of our lives from the past . That is interesting about you sister standing so far away . I will check my family pictures out now . That brings to my attention of a picture of a young cousin who was so unhappy about her life that when you took he picture she would fold her arms in front of her .

I sign of unhappiness,
Renee

[ February 12, 2006, 01:50 PM: Message edited by: Renee ]

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#74435 - 02/12/06 10:21 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Renee, yes, these photographs really ARE "snapshots" of our lives. It's amazing what can be learned by this body language. Plus, to be able to actually SEE ourselves when we were young, helps awaken memories. Descriptions of these photos work so well in writing, too, of course. Sue

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#74436 - 02/12/06 10:48 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sherri Offline
Member

Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 1177
Loc: Decatur, Illinois
Dear Sue,

This is the first time I have ventured into the discussion here. I think I was afraid of old memories being triggered and making this winter seem even worse. I've only told one other person about the incident remember the most, even though it went on for quite a long time. I was afraid of facing my feelings again after finally putting the issue to rest (I thought). It hurts me but makes me feel not so alone to know that others have their own horror stories.

I have one question for you. When you were growing up, were there other men that tried to take advantage of you? While I was growing up, I felt like I had this huge mark on my forehead that said "Hey, I'm already unclean, molest me!"

Thanks for your insight on this issue that has been kept in the dark far too long.

Sherri - A Survivor

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#74437 - 02/12/06 11:02 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sherri Offline
Member

Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 1177
Loc: Decatur, Illinois
Survivor September 4, 2004



When you face rejection and pain
Feel you have nothing to gain
Remember: You are a survivor

When stress bogs you down
Life brings nothing but a frown
Remember: You are a survivor

With no support group in sight
All looks bleak as night
Remember: You are a survivor

You life will no longer be torn
There’s hope for the morn
Remember: You are a survivor

When things go horribly wrong
Coming through will make you strong
Remember: You are a survivor

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#74438 - 02/12/06 11:55 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Dear Sherri, it truly means a great deal to me that you have entered this discussion. I know how much courage it takes to do this. It can be very scary to let others know both of our secrets and our pain. Plus, as you mention, there is the fear of old memories resurfacing. Sometimes, though, talking about it—at least for me—can remove some of the power of the memories, so I hope this is true for you.

In terms of your question, yes, I, too, always felt as if I had this mark on my forehead. I mean, I felt as if my body would, in some way, show what was happening to me. So I can totally relate to what you say. I think, for me, since I felt that way inside (emotionally)—that I was “unclean”— I felt as if this feeling was being projected outside. Of course now I know that it was my father who should have felt “unclean,” not me. After all, I was just a little girl. But it took me quite a few years in therapy to reach this understanding.

Thank you, too, for sharing such a powerful and heartfelt poem. I love how you repeat the line “Remember, you are a survivor” at the end of each stanza, so that you can emphasize your message. It seems as if you, too, have found that writing helps in the recovery. I always feel emotionally “lighter” after writing; I hope you do, too. Again, thank you so much for sharing some of your story, both through your post and your poem. I know it definitely helps me to know I’m not alone. Sue

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#74439 - 02/13/06 07:48 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, what book do you recommend that would be helpful for one writing a memoir?

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#74440 - 02/14/06 08:41 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dotsie, good question! Below, is a short list of some books that I (and my students) find particularly helpful. In addition to reading “how to write” books, I’d like to share with all of you my “creative nonfiction reading list,” which is posted on the University of Iowa’s website: http://www.english.uiowa.edu/nonfiction/readinglist.html. (I don’t teach at Iowa, but they’re using my list!) This list is divided by subject matter, since memoirs and essays can cover such a wide range.

Here are the “how to” books:

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Rebecca McClanahan, Write Your Heart Out
Bill Roorbach, Writing Life Stories: How to Make Memories into Memoirs
Mimi Schwartz, Writing True
Gayle Brandeis, Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write

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#74441 - 02/13/06 09:19 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sadie Offline
Member

Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
Sue,
This very helpful for me. Would you suggest BillRoorbach book Writing Life Stories: How to Make Memories into Memoirs for me. ? I will check Borders here In MD .
What is a good publisher to use ? I forget to ask you that earlier.

Thank You Sue!

[ February 13, 2006, 01:21 PM: Message edited by: Renee ]

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#74442 - 02/13/06 11:01 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Renee, yes, the Roorbach book is excellent! I would definitely recommend it. One way to research publishers is to use the book "The Literary Marketplace," available in the reference department at virtually all libraries. This book also lists agents. What’s good about this book is that it’ll give you some idea as to the kinds of things they publish. (For example, if you are interested in pursuing feminist presses, you'd be able to determine who publishes in this category.)

Some things to think about: Do you want to try to publish your book with a big New York publisher, or a university press, or a small publisher? There are advantages to each. For a New York publisher, you’ll need an agent, but you’ll get more money. In terms of small presses and university presses, you’ll probably get more individual attention but less money in terms of an advance (although I have NO complaints with any of my publishers, so have been very lucky).

Additional ways to research publishers/agents: an online resource to find an agent is www.agentsource.com. And, if you are interested in smaller presses, you might also want to get ahold of "The International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses," published by Dustbooks (P.O. Box 100, Paradise, CA 95967). I think this book lists by category, so you’d be able to find feminist presses rather easily, if that’s the way you might want to go. Another place to look is the magazine “Poets & Writers.” (You can find hard copies in bookstores and they also have a website.) Look at their ads; read some of their articles, as they provide a lot of information about publishing, as well as writing contests that you might enter. Also, of course, see who publishes some of your favorite memoirs. I hope this helps you some. I guess the good news AND the bad news is that there are, literally, thousands of publishers. So many, many options, but it might seem daunting to get started. But once you start making initial decisions, it'll get easier! Sue

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#74443 - 02/14/06 08:54 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Hello Sue, I have been away tending to family needs since my nephew's death. So sad. My nephew was a musical and science genius. He shared his gifts with joy. I'm trying to think of a way to ask you a question. Pardon me, but I am not having my most articulate moment. You can see from my signature what my focus has been since 2003. It seems that my whole life was leading to telling my story via my book. As I progressed in my healing, I felt responsible to help others heal. Recently someone told me that I am responsible only for my own healing, and that I do not owe society anything else. Also, surrounding myself with trauma by being a victim advocate and doing presentations on SA and DV does not bring me joy! I am suddenly aware that I have continued to identify myself with trauma by being a victim advocate and talking about trauma. I am having a sudden shift in the aftermath of my nephew's life and death. I want more joy! I am thinking I may resign from my advocacy positions and just paint watercolors! I find joy in writing, so writing my breast can memoir isn't so traumatic. But constantly talking about SA, DV, and incest is not joyful work. How do you find joy in your work? How do you remove yourself from the identity of a victim (or do you?) Have you ever considered this? I'll hit Add Reply before I

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#74444 - 02/14/06 09:18 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
smilinize Offline
Member

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3512
Loc: outer space
Lynnie,
Maybe you are growing past the victim label. I think that is wise. I refuse to identify myself as a victim of anything. In far too many cases, I was a willing participant in what I later came to realize was abuse.

I also refuse to be identified as a survivor. I dislike labels of any kind and I think identifying myself as a victim only invites continued victimization.

Sue, I clicked the agent site in your post and it retrieves a real estate agent locator. Could you check it out?

Thanks.

smile

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#74445 - 02/14/06 09:52 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Hi Smile, thanks for the reply. I am a survivor, and I think of that word as a description rather than a label. I don't identify myself as a victim, but I do too many victim related activities. I guess I am tired of trauma. I felt a sense of responsiblity to fix it for others as well. Maybe that's why I wanted to be a psychiatrist when I was 15. I wanted to fix my father. I guess I extended that fix-it fantasy a bit too far! I can only fix myself. And I guess I can send myself a bill and call it a day! Love and Light, Lynn

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#74446 - 02/14/06 07:19 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Lynne, I’m so sorry to learn about your nephew. What a sad, sad loss. And it sounds as if you are questioning a few things in your life right now. Which I’ve always felt was healthy—for ALL of us, everyone—I mean.

But, to answer your question: I guess I mainly define myself as a writer—and, for me, it is the writing that brings me the most joy in my life (even when I’m having a bad writing day). So, if anything, I guess I see myself as an advocate of the written word because it is through my writing that I meet other women. So I advocate the power of women’s stories, our voices. Yet, on an emotional level, my main focus is on the writing process itself--writing is spiritual, centering, makes me know I am alive. I hope I’m answering your question? I guess what I’m saying is that I think this is such an important insight on your part, that it is time for you to seek joy! What a powerful decision! Sue

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#74447 - 02/14/06 07:27 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Smile, you are SO right about that website! I am very sorry. It used to be for literary agents, so thank you for bringing this to my attention! Anyway, here is another website for agents, http://www.literaryagents.org/. This has much excellent information. Thanks! Sue

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#74448 - 02/14/06 07:56 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, I couldn't get the link for the creative nonfiction writing list to work. Sorry.

You mentioned Anne LaMott's Bird by Bird. She is such a fun writer. Have you read Traveling Mercies? She's such an honest writer. Gotta love her.

Have you read Michelle Weldon's book Writing To Save Your Life? You might wnat to check it out at Amazon. It's a great workbook for writing life stories. I met her at a NAWW conference. She was just as interesting to listen to.

Sue, do you mind telling us a little about your path to publication with The University of Georgia Press? How many query letters and proposals did you send? Stuff like that...

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#74449 - 02/15/06 08:34 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, Dotsie, sorry that link to my reading list didn't work. I think sometimes those "long" URLs don't go where they're supposed to. So, here is another way to reach it: If you go to Google, type this into the search engine:
"university of iowa" "sue william silverman". The first thing that will pop up on the Google list is a direct link to my list. So I hope this will work! If not, let me know.

Yes, I love LaMott's Traveling Mercies." But I haven't read the Weldon book. I'll have to check it out.

"Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You" got published by the University of Georgia Press because it won the Associated Writers & Writing Programs award series in creative nonfiction. This is an annual competition, and every year the winning manuscript automatically gets published with the UGA Press. (In other words, the UGA Press has a contract with the AWP to publish the winning manuscript, and every year there is a different judge.) Ironically, when I submitted my manuscript, I was 100% certain I would lose--having no self-esteem--and only entered because a friend of mine had won in the novel category a few years earlier. So imagine my shock! (By the way, this AWP competition has categories in each genre: short story collection, novel, poetry collection, and creative nonfiction.) In fact, I think the deadline is the end of this month, February. So, yes, winning a contest is certainly one way to get published.

With "Love Sick," though, I got an agent and went the New York route, with Norton. And now my poetry collection, "Hieroglyphics in Neon," is published with Orchises Press, a very small company. With the poetry, I happened to meet the publisher at a conference and asked if I could submit my manuscript to him. He said yes; then, he had it for months and months before he accepted it. So it can be a good idea to attend writers conferences, too, and make some personal contacts. Of course many personal contacts I've had have rejected my work, too, and will, of course, reject work they don't like, etc. But you never know! Sue

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#74450 - 02/14/06 11:48 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Michelle Weldon is fabulous! Sue, thanks for your comments. I think maybe my focus has been on the subject of the writing, and not on the process of the writing. I do love the process of writing, despite how it comes down to pulling teeth sometimes. I guess it is time to move on to new topics. Sue, I had a non-available message regarding Neon. I'll try again, unless you have other hints on how to get a copy. LL, L

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#74451 - 02/15/06 12:39 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Lynn, yes, writing has so many elements! But I agree with you that the writing process, itself, is what's, ultimately, the part that gives a sense of joy that you were describing!

Thanks for asking about "Hieroglyphics in Neon." It is now available at www.amazon.com. Though it might be easiest to reach the actual "page" on amazon by going to my website at www.suewilliamsilverman.com as you can just click on the bookjacket cover. I was also able to get--just a few days ago!--some copies from my publisher, in case you want an autographed copy. If so, you can email me at suesilverman@charter.net and I can give you my snail mail address. Actually, I have copies of all my books available for a signed copy. Again, thanks for asking! Sue

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#74452 - 02/15/06 08:00 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Hi Sue, I was looking through my time as the featured author to see if there are any posts I want to delete. I found this post and I see that I am still struggling. Do you have any answer? ****I am working on a memoir about my cancer experience. I must confess that I am afraid that I may not produce material that is as well-written. I’ve read on the forums that a couple of you had success with your first books, but are stuck on the second. I wonder if the fear of being able to produce as well once again is a component of the writer’s block. I’ve heard actors say they thought they might be unable to generate from the well of creativity for a subsequent project. Even Bob Dylan said that he could not reproduce the genius lyrics and music of his youth. I wonder if the other writers/artists here plunge right into a second/third project, or linger in the fear that you might not be able to do it again?****Thanks for any feedback, Lynn

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#74453 - 02/15/06 07:33 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Lynn, that’s such an interesting question. Yes, as you mention, many writers struggle with a second book. Including myself! I’m not sure, though, that it was because I was afraid of a comparison with the first book. Rather, the reason was because I had so much trouble “discovering” or “hearing” the voice for the second memoir. The voice in “Love Sick” is quite different from the voice in my first memoir, and it took me a number of years before I heard it—whereas I heard the voice immediately for “Because I Remember Terror….” In other words, each book, each essay, each poem is usually going to present its own challenges. Oh, writing is difficult. But if you've got to do it, you've got to do it!

But, having said this, I’m thinking that what’s most important is to “accept” that each work is going to be different: not better or worse, but different. (Which may help in not comparing?) Easier said than done, however! Right now I am really struggling with an essay, and I’m thinking I don’t like it as much as some of my other essays. Then I try to convince myself to be patient. The essay isn’t finished yet. And, even if I don’t like it as well, still, maybe that's simply as much as I can do with it. Can I accept this? I'll try!

Another consideration: do we write for ourselves or are we trying to please publishers, reviewers, friends, family, readers? As difficult as it is, I think it’s most important to write what WE need to write, in the way we need to write it, without thinking too much about the outside world (at least not during the writing process).

So I think, for all of us, we just need to keep writing, regardless of the end result!

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#74454 - 02/16/06 06:29 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
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Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Hi Sue, your response is a keeper. 1) write for myself 2) each piece is different! Great words for a writer! Thanks so much.

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#74455 - 02/16/06 08:53 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
You're welcome! I hope you got some writing done today! Sue

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#74456 - 02/16/06 09:00 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
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Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Yes, I'm writing, but not revising my breast cancer memoir. I'm going with the flow. My attention is on journal writing the details of the profound week in regards to my nephew's death. It was profound and intense as to the gifts that could be found in grief. For example, my brothers and I know each other better in our 50s than ever before. I am also writing about and to some long lost relatives who came forth after reading the obituary and recognizing my name as a surviving relative to my nephew. So, I figure, if this is what is coming forward from my mind to my fingers, I'll go with it. The rough draft of the BCM will always be there for revision. Thanks for asking. LL, L

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#74457 - 02/17/06 08:50 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Lynn, yes, it sounds very important that you write about your nephew and all that emotionally arose because of his death, now. It definitely sounds as if this is where your energy is. In many ways, just in terms of the writing process, I think it can be a positive thing to have more than one writing project going on at a time. Sue

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#74458 - 02/17/06 12:34 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
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Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
It's funny how the writing is telling me where to go, rather than me telling the writing where to go. That was the same with TEARS. I had no idea when I started that I was going to write about childhood sexual abuse. I thought I was going to write about addiction. but the writing evolved to the reasons for addiciton. I noted that something similar occured in your writing. Writing takes on a life of its own!

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#74459 - 02/17/06 12:46 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Yes, isn’t that a great feeling to be able to follow the writing, rather than predetermine it? Particularly with poetry—though certainly with essays, too—I think that I know what something is going to be about. I mean, I start out with a very definite idea—only to be surprised. And sometimes I struggle to be open with this process…even as I know how important it is. In many ways, I honestly don’t know what I think until I write it. Strange and interesting process. Sue

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#74460 - 02/17/06 05:57 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
I feel writing your passion is very important. Sue, what is your take on this?

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#74461 - 02/17/06 06:20 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
P.S Lynnie: you're not a surviror. You're a THRIVER! Working with dv issues gets you down at times. You might just need a break. I take them.

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#74462 - 02/17/06 06:36 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dianne, yes, writting one's passion is paramount! It is kind of like following your energy. Do you have to write it, versus do you think you should write about some event, etc.? If it's the latter, the writing will sound dull and flat. In other words, sometimes I read an essay (I'm an editor at the literary journal "Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction"), and it seems to be written just because something "happened" to someone, in that the author felt she/he HAD to write about it. So there's no energy or urgency on the page. So, yes, definitely write what you feel passionate about! Sue

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#74463 - 02/17/06 07:13 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, all, I just found this rather interesting website for writers, Northern Pros. Check it out at http://www.northernpros.com/index.html. If you click on the "LINKS" button, you'll see a list of many publishing opportunities with small presses and journals. Sue

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#74464 - 02/17/06 07:18 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Sue, the link didn't work for me.

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#74465 - 02/17/06 07:21 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
jawjaw Offline
Da Queen

Registered: 07/02/03
Posts: 12025
Loc: Alabama
Make sure you didn't copy the "period" at the end of the link.

JJ

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#74466 - 02/18/06 08:57 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Oh dear, sorry. Try this:
http://www.northernpros.com/

I am technologically challenged! Sue

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#74467 - 02/18/06 08:59 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, have you read many memoirs? If so, which ones did you like?

Have you read Smashed?

I'm going to read it. There's been lots of talk about it in this town. Remember, my kids are 17, 18 and 20. The schools are forever having evening seminars to alert parents to the weekend activity of our youth.

My husband and I are attentive parents. Our kids can't get away with much, but they still get away with some things. My eyes are wide open. Plus, we always wait up for them at night. Such fun.

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#74468 - 02/17/06 09:17 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sadie Offline
Member

Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
Sue,
Just a small note to let you know how much I loved talking with you about your book and writing .

Thank you,
Renee

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#74469 - 02/17/06 09:59 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dotsie, yes, I do read many memoirs. I haven't read "Smashed," though. It sounds excellent, and I'll have to get to it. Here are a few memoirs I've read recently and liked a lot: "A Match to the Heart" by Gretel Ehrlich, which is about being struck by lightning, and her recovery. She's an amazing writer. I just finished reading Ann Patchett's memoir about her relationship with the writer Lucy Greely called "Beauty and Truth." (Or else the title is "Truth and Beauty"--sorry--I should have checked.) But it delves quite a bit into the writing life, which is quite interesting. Then, Lucy Greely's book "Autobiography of a Face" is amazing. Patricia Hampl's "A Romantic Education" is excellent as is Hope Edelman's "Motherless Daughters." Well, these are some that immediately come to mind. Sue

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#74470 - 02/17/06 10:00 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Thank you, Renee! This means a lot to me. I'm really enjoying this forum and getting to meet all of you. Sue

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#74471 - 02/19/06 07:20 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Your descriptions in Father were so amazing. You tell without going into great detail. How did you learn to be such a great writer?

I write like I speak...out there, plain and no words that require a dictionary. I would love to be able to write as you do.

Any hints?

[ February 19, 2006, 11:21 AM: Message edited by: Dianne ]

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#74472 - 02/19/06 09:13 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Great question Dianne.

Were you always a writer, or did your memoir stir your gift? If so, this may sound very weird...but look at the good that came out of your tragic childhood. Not only the gift to help others who have suffered and suffer from sexual/child abuse, but also your gift of teaching writing.

Sue, you must read Smashed. I'm pretty far into it. This gal is an incredible writer. Amazing. I'm going to Google her to see if she's writing anything else.

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#74473 - 02/19/06 09:14 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dianne, thank you so much for what you say about my writing! Well, to be honest, my writing only improved with practice! I’ve been writing for years; plus, I went back to school and got a master’s degree in writing, so I could study it in a more serious way. You know, writing is a process…much like learning to play a piano. So it’s a matter of sitting down and practicing every day. To be honest, I’m a slow learner, so it did take me years before I felt “good” enough to even try to publish my work.

But, having said this, here are a few things to think about (and practice!) in order to move the process along.

One area to focus is the five senses. This sounds rather simplistic, I suppose, but in order to bring the reader into the heart of the experience, it’s important to create a world, an atmosphere, for them to enter. (Whatever that world might be.) So what does the tangible world around you smell like, taste like, sound like, feel like, look like? And be creative with these sensory images. You know, avoid “the sky is blue.” Instead, imagine it in your own unique way that will reveal you (if you’re writing nonfiction) or your protagonist, if you’re writing fiction. (It’s actually not a matter of using “big” words; more important is to use very exact words, so that YOUR experience sounds different from everyone else’s.)

In conjunction with this, allow this tangible world of the senses to reflect your interior state (or that of a fictional protagonist). For example, if you’re writing about being depressed, describe how the world looks in this depressed state. (In contrast, how does your immediate world look when you’re happy.) In other words, show the experience don’t just tell it. Maybe the goal is to write about being depressed without even using the word “depressed.”

By using sensory images in this emotional way (to reveal an interior state of being), you’re creating metaphors. And this is the heart of writing. By discovering one’s metaphors, you’re deepening the experience. In other words, I think it’s important to go deeper than just the “surface” story of what happened. Of course, yes, it’s important to write the story, itself, of what happened. So, what I’m suggesting is that, in addidtion to writing the story of “what happened,” it’s important to take the reader deeper, into what the experience means. This is done through metaphor.

Let me give you an example, so this doesn’t sound too abstract.

In "Love Sick," here is a passage where I’m describing a scarf given to me by my married lover: “I press the scarf against my nose and mouth. I take a deep breath. The scent is of him—leaves smoldering in autumn dusk—and I believe it is a scent I have always craved, one I will always want. I don’t understand why the scent of the scarf...seems more knowable, more tangible than the rest of him.”

Now, if I’d only written that I have this maroon scarf given to me by this man, this might be intersting information, but it doesn’t reveal what the scarf means to me in terms of the memoir (which is about recovering from sex addiction). So what I try to do here, in the second part of the paragraph, is “slant” the details about the scarf to show how the scarf is a metaphor. If I wrote this well enough(!), I’m specifically trying to show that the scarf is a metaphor for loss, for alientation, etc. (since, because of the addiction, I “know” the scarf better than I will ever “know” the man). In other words, yes, this section begins with my romanticizing the scarf, which is how I felt at the time I got it, back when I was in college. But, in the second part of the paragraph, I try to incorporate my more “writerly” self into the mix, try to deepen the experience by revealing what the scarf REALLY meant to me.

In sum, this metaphoric voice guides the reader through the quagmire of the addiction, revealing, over the course of the book, why I have self-destructive affairs with dangerous men and how this behavior affected my life. These metaphors help to clarify what the surface story is REALLY trying to say, the story that you want to explore.

Well, I hope this is clear? I mean, yes, writing takes a lot of practice, and it is hard work, but it’s also very rewarding. And, in the end, in addition to practice, it’s simply a matter of learning these techniques—such as how to create a metaphor, for example. Sue

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#74474 - 02/19/06 09:19 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, Dotsie, I began writing years before I wrote the first memoir. I began as a fiction writer, and wrote for at least ten years before switching to nonfiction. Then, after the two memoirs, is when I started poetry. Now, I'm back writing nonfiction again (essays), and fiction actually feels very far away from me. And thank you for what you say about my work! This means a great deal to me. Sue

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#74475 - 02/19/06 09:42 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Thanks! Your words are a keeper for sure (isn't that awful grammar?). You've given me some exercises to work with. Amazing, just like your writing.

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#74476 - 02/19/06 10:54 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
smilinize Offline
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Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3512
Loc: outer space
This reminds me of one of the things I learned in graduate school. It is that intangibles are best described through tangibles--metaphors. Metaphors work on the level of unconscious associations and with the implications of words rather than their literal meaning.

The metaphor of the scarf works with implications in this way for me...

"The scent of him-leaves smoldering in autumn dusk." Scent implies sexuality. It is the remains of a smell which is more immediate. Leaves in autumn are the remainder of the living tree as the scarf is the remainder of a living relationship. Autumn is the end of the bright days of summer, as being alone with only the scarf is the end of the bright days of the relationship. Smoldering is a fire that has been extinguished to burn only on the inside, but no longer flame as the flame of love or lust has been extinguished, but still smolders with heat inside lovers. And dusk is not yet dark (as in completely over and forgotten) but still not light (as in realized by being together with a lover).

Each word is carefully chosen so the image of "The scent of him-leaves smoldering in autumn dusk." works through implications on the unconscious to produce an emotion. When an emotion is described by it's name (love, sadness, anger, etc.) it is understood, but not experienced. When an emotion is described with a metaphor, the emotion is 'experienced.' There is a place in literature for both.

I'm sure everyone already knows all that. I just remembered it and I'm snowed in so my mind wanders.

smile

[ February 19, 2006, 03:15 PM: Message edited by: smilinize ]

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#74477 - 02/19/06 11:27 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
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Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Sue, I thought I sent you a PM asking for your address yet again so I can send a check for Neon. Please understand that I had 104 emails to answer this week in regards to my nephew's death. So your initial response to me got lost. Please PM me the address and amount AGAIN! so sorry to be a pain! L

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#74478 - 02/19/06 11:28 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Smile, I love how you say that: "intangibles are best described through tangibles." Yes! That IS the creation of a metaphor, isn't it? I love a William Carlos Williams' quote, too: “No ideas but in things.” It IS that simple, in a way, in that it's a matter of describing an intangible feeling (loss, alienation, love, hate, death) by using tangible "things." And these tangible things can be absolutely anything.

Here's an exercise that some of you might like to try. Below, is a list of abstract ideas that, in one way or another, are the ideas that most of us are writing about, in one form another. For each of these abstract ideas, try to come up with concrete, tangible words ("things") that embody the idea. For example, you could use the words "formaldehyde," "moth balls," or "lilacs" to describe the abstract concept of "death." List all the tangible words you can think of to describe the following:

Love:
Death:
Self:
Soul:
Rage:
Evil:
Pain:
Hunger:
Peace:
War:

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#74479 - 02/20/06 01:28 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
So, Smile and Sue: Hot and steamy like freshly dropped horse manure...is this what you mean?

Sorry, I'm in a weird mood today. Couldn't resist. [Big Grin]

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#74480 - 02/20/06 01:46 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dianne, funny! Well, but WHAT is like "hot and steamy freshly dropped horse manure"? Love? Just kidding.... Sue

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#74481 - 02/20/06 03:19 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
smilinize Offline
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Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3512
Loc: outer space
"hot and steamy freshly dropped horse manure"? Love?

I would say the emotion evoked by that metaphor is dependent on "who" you have been in love with.

smile

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#74482 - 02/20/06 07:34 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Yes, I believe I WAS thinking of the beginning stages of my relationship with ex husband.

I really am going to work on the exercises. Just as soon as I get settled into our new digs.

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#74483 - 02/20/06 09:15 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, everything has a metaphor: even ex-husbands! Good luck with the exercises.

Speaking of metaphors: I've just spent an hour in a geometry nightmare. I've been "researching" geometry on the web, as geometry is (I think) the overriding metaphor for an essay I'm working on. It's kind of about a love triangle from high school. If I remember right, I think I got a "D" in geometry. But I always got an "A" in love triangles, alas. Yes, a real nightmare! Sue

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#74484 - 02/22/06 11:57 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Okay, you lost me on the geometry thing. I'm easily lost.

Sue, if you were to give advice to someone who wanted to be published, what would it be? What do you consider the most important element?

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#74485 - 02/23/06 03:56 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Dianne, oh, so sorry about the geometry thing! All I meant was that I’m writing an essay about a romantic triangle I was involved in in high school (the boy I “loved” kept going back and forth between me and another girl), and I’m using a geometric triangle as a metaphor to show the love triangle. (Since we'd been talking about metaphors....) But enough said! Sorry about that.

Okay, advice to someone who wants to be published. Well, I have to admit it’s difficult to choose just one element, which would be the most important, since so many parts go into this. But how about if I say what I think are the TWO most important elements! One would be the writing itself, that each sentence is clear, dynamic, engaging. I also think you need a very powerful beginning (first sentence, first paragraph, first page) that immediately gets to the heart of the story, that immediately draws the reader in. Since agents and editors get so many manuscripts to read, I think it's crucial to get their attention immediately!

Is this the kind of thing you mean? Sue

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#74486 - 02/23/06 07:49 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Yes, exactly and thank you.

Another question. Query letters seem to stop most writers in their tracks. What advice can you give on them and maybe, even an example?

Most writers I've met seem terrified of them for some reason.

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#74487 - 02/23/06 09:09 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
First let me just differentiate between cover letters and query letters. A cover letter is one that’s included with an essay, short story, or poem to an individual journal. In other words, you don’t need to query a journal ahead of time to see if it’s okay to send your work.

So let’s review cover letters first--though they're quite similar to query letters. My advice is to keep them short and to the point. (A sample one is below.) When I read cover letters myself, as an editor, I mainly like to know the highpoints of someone's writing career. (In other words, don’t talk about hobbies, pets, anything extraneous.) But also not to worry if you don’t have many credits yet to your name. All writers start somewhere, with a first publication. And, ultimately, the work itself is what will inform the decision.

It’s always a good idea if you can find out the name of a specific editor to whom to send your work. Say you want to submit an essay to Fourth Genre; you could go online and learn that the co-editor is David Cooper. So you’d write, “Dear David Cooper.” If you absolutely can’t find the name of any of the editors, then I’d address it to the editor in the genre in which you’re submitting. For example, “Dear Poetry Editor.” Or, “Dear Fiction Editor.” Also, when submitting hard copies, always remember to include a SASE for the return of manuscript. Wherever possible, do read individual submission guidelines, most of which are now on the web.

Anyway, let me make up a query letter:

Dear David Cooper,

Please consider my essay, “Please Publish Me,” for Fourth Genre.

My essays have appeared in such journals as “_______,” “________,” and “________.” In addition, I studied writing at ___________University, where I received an MFA degree.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

In other words, as I say, keep it very simple! Editors and agents receive so much material.

All of the above pretty much applies to query letters. The main difference is that, in a query letter, you’d also be making a pitch for your work: You want them to invite you to submit the manuscript. Therefore, in addition to the above information, you’d include a short description of the manuscript. Keep it as succinct as possible. Usually no more than a paragraph.

Mainly, if it’s nonfiction, describe the subject matter.

For example, with my first memoir, I’d say something like: “My memoir, 'Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You,' is about growing up in my incestuous family. I explore how, on the surface, my family seemed perfect. However, this appearance of normalcy was a façade, a mask that hid what my father did to me at night, when we were alone.”

Or, in the second memoir, I’d say something like, “Love Sick is structured around the twenty-eight days I spent in a rehab facility recovering from a sexual addiction and an eating disorder. However, as an addict, I led a double life, so I also detail the acting-out behaviors that led me to rehab in the first place.”

If you’re submitting a novel, then you’d want to describe the plot and the protagonist, and maybe the overall theme, in as few sentences as possible. Short but engaging, is the goal.

So, okay, I know writing these letters is daunting. But write them anyway! It's so important to get your work out there, and circulating!

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#74488 - 02/23/06 09:31 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Thank you. Luckily, I had an agent that wrote the query and in it, he inserted a 911 call that I had put on one of the first pages as an example of what happens to a battered woman when she's called the police.

Maybe writers build the query letter into something more than it is. Yours was to the point and explained very well.

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#74489 - 02/23/06 10:21 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Dianne, it's important to tell a little about yourself too. You need to give yourself credibility. Example for you: the fact that you've hosted a web site/forum for however many years, advocate for battered women, do speaking engagements, etc.

Think of your query as a advertisement for you.

Don't be modest. Pour it on.

You need to convince the agent/editor that your book must exist. Tell what sets it apart from others on the same topic.

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#74490 - 02/23/06 10:30 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Dianne, that's a great idea that your agent inserted that phone call. That would definitely get the attention of a publisher.

And I totally agree with Dotsie about letting agents/editors know about relevant life and professional experience, such as being a professional speaker on the topic, etc., particularly when you're pitching nonfiction.

Just remember, if you've written an essay or book or story, then you can certainly write a one-page query letter! So send out your work! Sue

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#74491 - 02/23/06 11:00 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
If I had any work to send out I would. I've taken a break from my writing for a while. I find myself sitting at the computer for way too many hours and don't get other things done.

I actually posted the question about a query letter for some of the other women on this site because I've had so many writers ask me about them and I couldn't think of anyone who could tell them better than Sue.

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#74492 - 02/23/06 11:35 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Oh, you know, sometimes I think we all need to take a break. I, too, take a break from writing at times. Though it always feels so good to get back to it, too.

One of the great things about these forums, is that we all get to share our ideas and information. It's so much better not to be doing these things and feeling all alone. Sue

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#74493 - 02/24/06 07:22 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dotsie Offline
Founder

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Sue, I just finihsed reading Smashed. I bet you would enjoy her writing style.

Anyway, I am amazed at how much she revealed about her friends. I can't help but think of her friends reading her book and being shocked that she put them in such a bad light.

Were you worried about the people you mentioned in your book retaliating? I don't recall you revealing such ugliness about friends but what do memoir writers do to protect themselves from law suits?

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#74494 - 02/24/06 09:21 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, Since I haven’t read Smashed, I can’t speak to her book. But, for myself, I mainly try not to show anyone in a bad light, especially in terms of friends, husband(s), etc. (In other words, people outside of my parents, I suppose.) The reason why is because my “goal” in writing is to understand people, events, situations, etc., so it’s more of an examination than a pointing of fingers. Even in my first memoir, about the incest, I tried not to write from a place of revenge. Mainly, I wanted to understand how the incest affected me, what it meant—understand all the things I didn’t know growing up. I've always felt that writing from a place of revenge (or ONLY anger) would limit my work, emotionally. And in "Love Sick," I actually feel that I’m probably harder on myself than I am on anyone else.

But, having said that, I did change my friends’ names in both of my books in order to protect their privacy. In “Terror, Father,” though, I use the real names of my husband and therapist, though in “Love Sick,” my publisher, Norton, “made” me change both their names—even though I’d used their real names in the first book. In short, Norton was nervous about lawsuits, though I actually never worried at all that anyone would sue me.

In these kinds of cases, a lawsuit, by the way, would usually be invasion of privacy rather than libel, which, I’ve heard, is much more difficult to prove.

To try to prevent lawsuits, though, many authors do change friends’ names and use composite characters in protect privacy. I wonder if the author of Smashed did this or not? Do you know?

But, we’re such a lawsuit happy country you can never entirely protect yourself. Novelists are sued, too. I usually suggest to students that they need to find their own comfort level in terms of what to reveal and what not. And, of course, hope for the best! But, having said this, I honestly don't think there are that many lawsuits around memoirists and invasion of privacy. I mean when you think of how many memoirs have been published in the last few years. Sue

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#74495 - 02/25/06 02:08 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Sue, do you feel victims of incest ever completely, 100% heal?

I had a domestic abuse class every week for female inmates at a prison. Almost all of them had been victims of incest as young girls. They seemingly went and stayed in a self-destructive mode. They were repeat offenders...theft, drugs, etc.

I know women of domestic abuse can go on and lead productive lives and you're an example that a victims of incest can do the same but to my mind, it would be much more difficult to heal from incest. It just goes against nature so badly.

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#74496 - 02/25/06 02:50 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
That’s a very interesting question, and an important question, even as it’s a difficult question to answer. I mean, on some level, I’d have to say “no,” I don’t think it’s possible to heal 100% simply because it’s impossible to be the woman I would have grown up to be, if this had never happened to me. And of course I don’t know who that woman would be (or would have been). In other words, I’ll never know what I would be like right now if my father hadn’t molested me when I was a child.

Having said that, though, I don’t feel as if the past “rules” my life anymore, either. After years of therapy, I feel relatively content—oh, you know, good days, bad days—but not mired in the past. Also no longer am I mired in self-destructive behavior.

So, what’s sad about the women you mention, who are inmates, is that it sounds as if they didn’t have the resources (financial, emotional, etc.) to seek help. That is very sad that our culture, our society, doesn’t do more to help people in these emergency situations. Locking these women up in prison isn’t a recovery program by any stretch of the imagination. Our society is so confused as to how to handle these things.

So my feeling is that if a woman can undergo therapy, some kind of strong recovery program, then it’s definitely possible to reach a place where you have a life that’s more than mere existence—certainly more than self-destructive behavior. You know, I have some terrific women friends, I have a lovely partner, Marc, I have my writing, teaching. And, emotionally, I am usually able to be in touch with my feelings (whereas I used to numb them). So that’s a lot! And I'm very grateful. I hope this (more or less) answers your question! Sue

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#74497 - 02/25/06 03:57 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Yes, it does and thank you.

In Marilyn Van Derbur's book, she would have times of being almost completely paralyzed. She really suffered trauma later in her life.

When her father died she was standing over his coffin and talking to him as she blamed his death on her confronting him, and she looked at his hands and noticed that his middle fingernail was trimmed shorter than the others so to her, this was a sign he had continued to molest young girls until the day he died.

Does reading about others molestation trigger you? I was reading Michelle Weldon's book and had to put it down because my chest got tight and started to hurt.

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#74498 - 02/25/06 05:35 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
That's a powerful story about Marilyn Van Derbur and her father's death.

You know, it's been a long time since I've read a memoir about incest or child abuse. Mainly, that's just because I have so much reading that I've got to do for teaching...and reading student work, too. But, yes, in the past, I frequently have had similar reactions as yours. I can understand this. Sue

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#74499 - 02/27/06 08:29 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Hi. I'd like to jump in regarding lawsuits. When I was writing TEARS I consulted a lawyer. What I learned was that perpetrator's have rights. If they have not been convicted, then they cannot be named in the memoir or the author is subject to lawsuit. In other words, even if the victim knows and the perpetrator knows, the perp has to be protected if there has been no conviction. Even an arrest does not count; it has to be a conviction. I have not read an incest memoir that is vengeful yet. Most of the memoirs are written to to break the silence. I am reading "Leaving the Saints" by Martha Beck. She weaves the themes of religious abuse with sexual abuse in her highly regarded Mormon family. In Beck's case, she has an entire religion retaliating aginst her writing!

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#74500 - 02/27/06 09:09 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
This is very interesting Lynn. You know, since my father (and mother) died before I even began writing my first memoir, this isn’t something that I looked into. But it’s an important distinction to know about…and very sad that perpetrators have such strong “rights” in this regard. So does this mean that you just can’t use their names? I mean, could you, say, use the word “father” if you don’t use their names? Or how do you get around this?

Though neither I nor my publisher consulted an attorney with the first memoir, I did have to talk to the Norton attorney with the second, and she “strongly suggested” that I change all sorts of odd things such as, for example, the name of the motel in the Georgia sections. I just found that so bizarre, but I didn’t have a choice.

But you make a good point that it’s better to check with an attorney before publication, if you’re unsure of anything…and not wait until after the fact! Sue

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#74501 - 02/28/06 08:05 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Hi Sue, that's right, you can't name names. I mean, you can, but you (the author) open yourself to suits. I was flabbergasted by this. Yes, you could use the word "father." An editor was annoyed that I'd gone the entire first without giving my father a name. He was referred to as "my father" or by others as "your father." This reference happens to be real in my family, as no one wants to say his name even when talking about him! so I settled upon a ficticious name. Yes, I too renamed nearly everyone except for the counselor(s) Karen because I had thier permission. In victim advocacy work, I've discovered that perps have more rights than victims! And, the perps know their rights, where as the victims do not know their rights until they come to an advocate for help. It's a backwards world sometimes.

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#74502 - 02/28/06 06:27 PM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
It is, indeed, a backwards world! And in the legal area of the publishing business, not just in terms of perpetrators, either. The lawyer made me change my husband's name in Love Sick, even though I'd used his real name in the first book. Ditto for my therapist's name. Ironically, my therapist wanted me to use his REAL name, but the attorney wouldn't let me! Go figure. And in terms of fathers the law doesn't make any sense; I mean, if we, as authors, are using our real names, then it's going to be clear who are fathers are anyway. You're right, Lynn, these laws are all backwards.

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#74503 - 03/01/06 02:27 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, all, as the month draws to a close, I just want to thank all of you for participating in this forum, sharing your ideas and stories. I'm truly appreciative to have had this opportunity to spend some time with you in this meaningful way. I've enjoyed this a great deal. Of course, I'm not signing off for good! In fact will check back later today. But I do want to say "thank you" for now! Sue

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#74504 - 03/01/06 04:10 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
jawjaw Offline
Da Queen

Registered: 07/02/03
Posts: 12025
Loc: Alabama
Sue,
The gift we've received has been your presence here among the boomers. You've been so faithful to all, answering questions right and left, never leaving anyone hanging on for an answer. Such diligence! Even though some of us may not have posted as much as others, never think for one minute we weren't soaking up every post in this section.

You have been such a joy to have here. To say you are admired would be an understatement. Please do stay with us when you can, and join in conversations when they suit you and your schedule. We have absolutely LOVED having you here.

May God go with you,

Your friend, JJ

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#74505 - 03/01/06 04:11 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Princess Lenora Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/04
Posts: 3503
Loc: Colorado
Hi Sue, thank you for being here. The good part is that your thread as featured author will be archived. So whenever I want to get to your wisdom, I can just click! Have you considered writing a guide for writers on Metaphor? anyway, I know you and I will see each other again. Love & Light always, Lynn

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#74506 - 03/01/06 04:30 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
I'm truly a fan of yours and it's been a pleasure reading your very wise words. I'll work on those exercises!

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#74507 - 03/01/06 05:27 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
Hi, J J, Lynnie, and Dianne, I’m so touched by your comments that I got tears in my eyes. I’m profoundly moved by your support. Thank you all for participating in the forum in such depth as well as for sharing your stories with such openness. And thank you Dotsie for hosting this website, these forums; where else could we all be able to join together in this way! As much as the web can SEEM distant, it’s not at all, with sites such as this. In fact, just the opposite: this has been such an intimate setting.

Lynnie, I have actually thought about writing a book on creative nonfiction, but, well, as with most things, I haven’t had the time. Right now, I’m in the throes of trying to finish a collection of essays…so maybe when I finish with it?

Again, thanks to all of you for the gifts you’ve given me this past month. I don’t of course mean this to sound like a “real” good-bye! I’ll both check back here later this evening in case anyone has some last-minute questions…and, now that Dotsie and Lynnie have taught me how to access the forums (I’m technologically challenged), I’ll be visiting others. Love to all of you, Sue

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#74508 - 03/01/06 07:46 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
chickadee Offline
Member

Registered: 09/26/04
Posts: 3910
Loc: Alabama
Sue, I want to tell you that I also enjoyed your company here on the site. I participated a little and kept up with all your posts. It was my pleasure to have forumly [Wink] met you. I will be sure to mention you and your book to my friend aka Janie, this summer when I visit her. I hope you will drop in from time to time and visit us. Until then, take care.
chick

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#74509 - 03/01/06 07:55 AM Re: Because I Remember Terror 'Father' I Remember You, Sue Silverman
Sue William Silverman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan
HI, Chick, I've enjoyed meeting you, too! I've thought of you and your friend Janie, since you shared some of her story, and I hope your visit with her goes well. If you like, please feel free to email me afterwards and let me know how it goes. Thank you so much for your participation! Sue

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