Writing and Professionally Self-Publishing a Memoir for Non-Writers
I never imagined I would author a memoir. I dabbled in writing a little when I was younger, but I thought I wasn’t creative enough to ever publish a book. In fact, I am actually a mathematician. When I started writing Where Fault Lies, I didn’t expect it to take on the life that it has. After I went through a traumatic experience, I started writing to better understand what happened to me. When you have PTSD, your brain stops you
from feeling all your emotions at once. But if you never let them out, you can continue to experience trauma symptoms for the rest of your life. Writing this book and facing the severity of what happened to me ensured that I relived the experience and let it out a little at a time.
When I began telling people about my memoir and sharing it with others, only then did I realize how much power there can be in storytelling. By opening myself up and being completely transparent, I was able to reach through my book to my audience and relate to them in a way that is much more difficult than in an hour-long conversation. People I do not know have cried for me over my experiences that I wrote about, and they have used it to better understand themselves. It isn’t a self-help book, but any memoir that deals with a subject people can relate to can and will help others.
Even more important than the lives of the famous are those of the ordinary. I believe there are people around us everywhere with extraordinary tales to tell. But many of them never do, probably because of the lack of an outlet or the fear being vulnerable can bring. I am here to testify that it can be done. If you have a story to tell, you need to tell it. Even if it’s excruciatingly difficult, even if you are not a writer, your story does have
power, and it can move people.
One of the scary things about writing our own memoirs is the fear of being sued or hurting people’s feelings. On the latter, I have realized that people will be more supportive than you imagine. Even if you don’t paint your friends and family as perfect angels, your story is about you. So, as long as you are as open about your own faults as you are about theirs, the people in your life should be proud of what you’ve accomplished and your willingness to speak out.
Understand also that lawsuits are much less likely than you think. There are seven criteria a libel suit must make to win, and the one bringing the suit has the burden of proving each one. To protect yourself, all you have to remember is this: it isn’t defamation if it’s true. The truth will always protect you from a lawsuit. You don’t necessarily have to prove it’s true either. In a civil suit, it goes the other way: the one bringing the suit has to be able to prove that it isn’t.
The best decision I made once I decided to publish Where Fault Lies was hiring an editor, two editors to be exact. It was the largest investment I made in my work other than my time, but it was worth the effort ten-fold. Your primary editor isn’t just to edit spelling and grammar (that’s what your second editor is for). They will analyze your storyline, critique your character development, help you add details when needed, cut
parts that are unnecessary, and so much more. It isn’t easy to review our own work because we know what we mean, even if we don’t say it quite right. An editor will ensure that your words come across as you mean them to and provoke the emotional responses you are looking for.
Maybe the most unfamiliar part about writing a memoir is what you do after your book is done. How do you sell it? Self-publishing has come a long way in the last few years, and there are so many resources out there to help get you through the process. Just because a book is self-published doesn’t mean it is poorly published. The new wave of publishing focuses on professionally self-published work, which can produce
an equally impressive product. The best piece of advice I can give when it comes to marketing is this: be an avid self-promoter. It’s important enough to leave at just that.
I’m not saying this is an easy process, or that everyone should write a book. Not only does it take commitment, but publishing a memoir also needs a story, one that you are willing to share, and one that others will want to read. There are extraordinary things happening around us everywhere. Only when we begin to honestly see people will we truly understand who we really are.
About the book
When divorced single-mom Carrie Lucas moved to Seattle she knew it was time to start living life on her own terms, and stop playing by the rules of everyone else. While exploring her new city she falls for Sayid, a charismatic lawyer who has life figured out. But one traumatic night, Carrie discovers evil doesn’t come in the package she expected. Afterwards, she struggles to make sense of what’s real and understand ultimately who is at fault for the tragedy that unraveled her life.
In a gripping and powerful narrative, Carrie tells the true story of how falling for the wrong person can cause so much more than heartbreak. Where Fault Lies is a chilling exploration of memory through trauma, trust in humanity, and a captivating story of strength and survival that appeals to the hearts of fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and men and women alike.
"As much as I don’t want to admit it, this is going to impact me the rest of my life. The way I love, the way I trust. If my mother told me she was making chicken for dinner, I wouldn’t believe her. It’s not just that he raped me, but he wedged his way into a place no one had ever been and he used that to control me. It’s not just him that lost my trust. How can I ever trust myself again?
I can’t even hug my dad. This is not me.
I guess, there isn’t much I can do about that. The FBI considers sexual assault as the second worst crime to murder, but it’s a hard crime to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s easy to get tangled in the argument of consent, or find a way to insinuate the victim had it coming. She was wearing a short skirt, she was flirting, she was drinking. But rapists are not animals that snap when a target is vulnerable in front of them. Women cannot protect themselves from rape by wearing less revealing clothing or not drinking too much. Rape is not a crime of opportunity. Rapists calculate and plan and perfect their craft. They only do it in an environment to which they feel they have the utmost control. It’s not that they cannot help themselves, it is that they simply do not want to.
And in a very real way, it’s as serious as murder. Rapists cut to the core and go after one of the most primal things we have that is sacred. So to cut deep, to take over, to take from, to rape—in the form of what may look like a sexual act, something that should empower and give pleasure and life—is horrid. It is the most horrid of actions that not only rapes what’s physical, but also what is not. They take from us our personhood. They empty the shell of our bodies. That is why they call us survivors. We are left to fill in the hole that is left after surviving our own murders. Rape spares the finite of the human body, while sacrificing the infinite of the soul.”
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About the author
Carrie May Lucas is an American author living in Seattle, Washington with her daughter. As a member of the RAINN Speakers Bureau, she works to educate and inform the public on sexual violence. Through her writing she inspires other survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse, and helps give a voice to their struggles. In her spare time, Carrie May Lucas likes to dance, run, and do yoga, and is currently getting a Master’s degree in Education.
For more info on Carrie and Where Fault Lies, visit her website www.carriemaylucas.com.