I just start writing. I do not worry about beginning, middle or end. If I have an idea or concept then I just free write until I can write no more. Later on, I will edit and change things around. I will focus on paragraphing and grammar and spelling and “introductory sentences” and conclusions etc. I find if I try and think about all these things at the time of writing it interrupts the creative flow and “boxes me” into a particular line of thought and doesn’t allow for free flow of ideas. I cut out a lot during editing as I focus on the “theme” or main idea I am trying to get across but this does not worry me as I usually have plenty of material to “cut down” and work with. Sometimes I found during writing my memoir that I would wake in the middle of the night after writing a particular section of work and the sentence or idea I needed would be in my head and I would have to get up and write it down. I keep a notepad next to my bed for these moments, so I can go back to sleep, and not lose the thoughts, and these are often the most powerful sentences and chapters I end up writing.
The main obstacle is my paid work. I am meant to work 9-5pm but often find myself starting earlier or finishing late. I get very tired as I work at a demanding job and often feel frustrated that I am too tired to think properly after work. When I was writing my memoir, I would often fall asleep when I got home from work to wake up about 11pm and then I would write for an hour or two before going back to bed. Also, family commitments and friendships can get in the way of writing especially if I have set deadlines for myself. I find when I am actively writing I had to become quite selfish as otherwise I would never have completed the goal I set for myself. I also found that when writing my memoir, my writing would evoke emotions over past events I had recalled and for a few days I would find myself bursting into tears or very “distracted” with recall and memories that would arise that I had not thought about for a long time. This evoking of emotion would be a distraction for me as I did not produce as much material at times due to allowing myself time to experience these emotions, and needing extra sleep or rest. I found long walks helpful for sorting out thoughts and feelings and often ideas for rearranging chapters or what I wanted to write about would become clearer during these walks. I love my family and friends so please do not think I neglect them all the time, but I felt it important to say that I had to severely curtail my time at times with them otherwise I would never have been able to write. All my children fortunately were adults except for one nearly grown up son who is 15 years old and so I was able to be selfish without harm to them. But I did lock myself away with threats of “dire consequences” if I was interrupted during the times I was trying to complete my memoir.
I am only newly published (15 January 2014) and so I only have a few reviews written so far on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads. The first time someone wrote a review after downloading my eBook and stated: “I couldn’t put the book down, moved me from the first page” I wanted to cry. I just wanted to provide hope and encouragement for those who had experienced similar situations in life, and enlightenment for others who had no experience of such things but might know someone who had so they could be empathetic and understand a bit more deeply. If only one person is helped or feels supported then I am happy.
I think the fact that sometimes I dream up scenarios and then write them down and then go straight back to sleep. One time we had a workshop coming up where we had been encouraged to present a 5 minute talk on anything we wished in relation to our work in front of our colleagues. I dreamt about this and came up with 3 scenarios (all acted out in my dream) of exactly what I wished to say. When I woke up I wrote them all down, including the “one liners” that concluded or began the 3 scenes and I was so happy as they were perfect for what we had to do. I believe other writers have this occur but it is something that ones may feel is “quirky”.
Any story has to engage the reader and the reader has to become connected to the main characters (good or bad) and feel invested emotionally in what is happening to them. If your characters are boring, or the reader cannot relate to their experiences, or they dislike them with nothing redeemable or fascinating or horrifying about them, then no one will be interested in what is going to happen next. So I suppose for me, I have to be moved emotionally in some way by what I am reading to feel that a story is a “good” story.
Tell us a bit about your family.
I have four children (3 adult children and a teenage son) and 2 stepsons whom I consider my own. I remarried at the age of 43, nearly 9 years after my separation and divorce. I am married to a man who also found himself a single dad after a few years of marriage, and left with 2 young sons to bring up on his own. He had been a single dad for about 10 years before we met up. It has sometimes been a challenge combining two families but we decided early on, to allow the natural parent to discipline their own children, and to share and split tasks at home. We also have made time for each other, to be a couple only. Despite the daily routine of life being rather monotonous at times, I only feel stronger in my love for him, and am grateful every day that we met. He fully supports me in all my endeavours and dreams, as I do him, and we try and help each other to be the best we can be. I still have no contact with my mother (that is still her choice and not mine) and keep an open door policy in my heart, in case she ever changes her mind. That being said, I have found others who fill the role of a mother in my life, and although that never can replace her, it does ease the hurt and fills the gap that was created when she made the decision to shun me. I see my father regularly and also speak regularly to my brother by phone. He lives in another state (he is married with a 5 year old son). I have reconnected with cousins and other distant family through Facebook and hope one day very soon to meet up with some of them in England.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
I try and talk to my partner about what I am feeling. This is important for me to do and not try and do it on my own, as I did for so many years. I tend to sometimes take time to do this, and he often will realise I am struggling before I have said anything to him. Self care is something I did not have for a long time so it is important for me to practice now. I will re-examine my intent with whatever I am trying to do and I know my intent is to help, and not harm, and so I refocus on that and think that if it is meant to be it will work out. I make detailed goals and write down the steps to reach those goals, and then timeline them, and make sure I do each step, each week or month, and then before I know it – the goal is accomplished. I no longer am affected so much from negative reviews, as the book was primarily written for those who have experienced abuse, rejection and spiritual trauma and any negativity has been from those who do not relate. It has therefore helped me to grow stronger.
What scares you the most?
Believing that politicians and lawmakers will not take action before the destruction of nearly all species, sabotage of soil and food growing, and destruction of our planet becomes irreversible.
What makes you happiest?
To see or hear that one of my children has committed an act of kindness and caring just because they wanted to (not for glory or for others to see or know about). They bring me my greatest joy. A close second is the first cup of coffee in the morning, dark chocolate melting in my mouth slowly, the joy of my dogs welcoming me even if I only left for 5 minutes, and a cat snuggling up on the doona on my bed, when I am snuggled down listening to the rain outside and are warm and contented in my bed with a good book and warm hot chocolate drink.
What’s your greatest character strength?
I can usually read people very quickly (what they thinking and how they are feeling).
What’s your weakest character trait?
Doing too much in any one day and exhausting myself. I find it hard to know when to stop and work at a frantic pace at whatever I do.
***Award winning book (finalist) in 2014 Beverley Hills International Book Awards***
Jenny Hayworth grew up within the construct of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which she describes as a fundamentalist cult-like religion. She devoted her life to it for over thirty years. Then she left it. The church “unfellowshipped” her-rendering her dead to those family and friends still committed to the church.Hayworth is a sexual abuse survivor. The trauma changed her self-perception, emotional development, trust, and every interaction with the world.
Inside/Outside is her exploration of sexual abuse, religious fundamentalism, and recovery. Her childhood circumstances and tragedies forced her to live “inside.” This memoir chronicles her journey from experiencing comfort and emotional satisfaction only within her fantasy world to developing the ability to feel and express real life emotion on the “outside.”
It is a story that begins with tragic multigenerational abuse, within an oppressive society, and ends with hope and rebirth into a life where she experiences real connections and satisfaction with the outside world.
Those who have ever felt trapped by trauma or circumstances will find Inside/Outside a dramatic reassurance that they are not alone in the world, and they have the ability to have a fulfilling life, both inside and out.
Foreward Clarion Review – “What keeps the pages of Hayworth’s life story turning is her honesty, tenacity, and sheer will to survive through an astounding number of setbacks. Inside/Outside proves the resilience of the human spirit and shows that the cycle of abuse can indeed be broken”
Kirkus Review – “A harrowing memoir of one woman’s struggle to cope with sexual abuse and depression while living in – and eventually leaving – the Jehovah’s Witnesses”
Readers Favourite 5 Star Review – “The book is an inspiring story for those who are going through traumatic times…”
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
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