I am an accidental author. It never crossed my mind to write a book.
My background was nursing, writing especially writing creatively was not part of the job description. 40 years ago I joined Toastmasters and began writing speeches. Most of those for 5-7mins. Not exactly committed writing is it?
Yet reading has always been a passion. “Words and books have the power to ignite our imagination, to help us see the world through perspectives other than our own and leave us in awe and wonder of the marvels of the human spirit.
You get to love the characters and live their life. To put yourself in the ‘for instance’.
Reading took me to places I had not contemplated – it allows you to lead a vicarious life.
In 2002 my world as I knew it ceased to exist. My beautiful husband of 31 years left for the heavenly fields and I will ill-equipped to cope. I was terrified of being alone, terrified I would not cope, terrified of facing a new life. So, I did what I knew best and that was to push myself until I dropped. One year later I did exactly that at 51kgs I was a physical, emotional and spiritual wreck. And just to add to the mix I was computer illiterate. Les had done all my computer work for me.
At my lowest point, I began journaling. I am on such a deep journey of healing: the kind where all my walls came down and I was faced with the raw emotion and truth of who I was and how I felt about life. I had lost my identity along with my husband
It wasn’t easy. I was facing my own vulnerabilities and a pile of negatives you could not jump over. I was seeking, seeking, to let go, to see myself in a new light and move forward. Who can Di Riddell be in this world. What is possible for her?
My heart took me to great places and I began to understand that love conquers all and it starts with self- love.
There were serious challenges along the way that dented my confidence, coping, handling things I had never had to handle before. I was letting myself think that my shortcomings were failures and that lessons were burdens, and I was carrying them on my own shoulders.
Yet journaling and a serious move into anything about self-development took hold of me and took on a life of its own. About this time, I joined National Speakers and Robyn Henderson said those magic words – I think you have got a book in you’ – I looked at her aghast! Like what????
Time to ‘fess up again, I could not create or write at the computer. I would write in longhand and then type. My typing could not keep up with my thoughts and if I stopped to correct I would lose my train of thought. By that time, I was learning more about technology. How many times I sat and sobbed, and cried and sometimes screamed ’I love technology, technology loves me’ over and over again.
My plan to write then got all muddled up with my personal story. A story that had been kept secret for 45 years. To tell it I knew I needed to dive deeply into forgiveness for my father who was a violent alcoholic and the 3 guys who pack raped me as a teenager resulting in a pregnancy and an adoption. It was when I got to that point that I could write openly, authentically and from my heart.
I did not have a clue where or how to start. My process on Robyn’s advice was to do a brain dump. I dedicated my spare bed downstairs for the exercise. Every time I thought of something I would write it on a post- it- note and leave it on the bed. No judging, every thought was worth a note. After about 2 weeks I had exhausted that avenue.
Collation came next, into piles covering topics. If I had 20 in one pile, I broke it up into 2 or 3 areas. Where I had 2 in a pile, I either incorporated it into another or thought it not relevant and discarded it. Each of those plies went into a plastic sleeve with the topic on the outside.
You see when I thought I would write from the beginning, I would get blocked, not knowing quite where to start and getting hung up on every sentence,
The plastic sleeves were my saviour. When I was ready to write I would choose what I felt like writing about that day. That way my creative spirit was happy and words flowed freely, by this time I was typing.
I mean like how long would it take me to hand write then type?
What was I thinking?
Where was my head?
As I wrote I looked for other styles, what others had said. But this was my story. My lesson was “When You Write the Story of Your Life, Don’t Let Anyone Else Hold the Pen”. My writing is real, raw, and authentic – just like me!
Once I had covered all the topics, I collated them into an order for the book then wrote the links to draw them together. The opening and closing chapters I wrote last.
Next came the editing, book cover, typesetter and publisher. And just when I thought I was done… the launch and marketing, speaking, more writing. I thought sending off the manuscript was it. ‘Beyond Abuse’ was out there, my secret story now public knowledge.
Why would I do that? If I can prevent another woman going through challenges like mine then my job is done.
Completing that book opened doors I had never seen. I moved in different directions, started a support group for women who had been abused, created a 6 week program for women starting over, spoke to groups and continued writing. The cover of the original book.
Writing for the web and a blog were my next challenge. My first blog was called ‘Paint the Ceiling Beige’ after regaling a blogger with stories of internet dating. I will let your mind take you from there. That kept me out of mischief for a few years.
Then, in the process of doing a promotional video for my website, I was challenged to do an update, to answer questions I had been asked over the last 10 years. I sent the original files to a new editor, then found out she lives in New York not SE Qld like I thought. Nic came back with several areas she considered I had glossed over. I wrote on those, I did answer questions I had been asked. Then she suggested I add men’s stories, abuse happens to men also, so I did. Men are not being heard and their suicide rate is increasing. Then Nic thought we should balance it with women’s stories and I did.
My greatest surprise was when I went to incorporate that new writing into the original copy…it did not fit. I had changed that much. We put the new material at the end of each chapter as well as doing chapter revisions. A new opening and new closing and a new forward completed the writing.
2 weeks ago ‘Beyond Abuse- – a recovery guide for men and women in an era of me, and all of us, too was released. In 3 days it was No 1 best seller on Amazon Australia for new releases in self- help.
The day I opened the link and saw it live on Amazon…I thought I am ready…it’s time’. My author journey has opened me to search for the 2 children I adopted out as a teenager. That journey may well be my next book.
Thoughts I would like to share as I dive into an extension of my writing is I am planning a Web TV program ‘Uplifting Humanity’ – one person at a time. it is 2018 we are shifting humanity and raising consciousness – not playing I’m going to get you, you bastard games. We are opening to more expansive views leading to deeper conversations
We are never done, this story is just starting. Abuse is not going away despite the millions of $$$ spent on it. I am asking what can we do differently? As a catalyst for change, I am seeking answers to questions so those who are hurting badly, coming though, knowing where to go and, what to do. I am there as a guide and a resource.
Writing my books has gone beyond the pen, it has opened up new and varied avenues. Together we can help to make the world a safer place and I would love to say one free of abuse. Love will conquer all.