I was recently asked by an e-friend of mine, to be a guest on her blog and share ‘some’ from my memoir writing journey. I copy paste the post in its entirety because there ain’t a re-blog option on her blog.
Drum rolls for my guest Marie Abanga
I’m so pleased to introduce my guest Marie Abanga, author of My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption, a book written in a voice so raw and open it almost takes my breath away. Here she tells how she created her book almost in complete secrecy because of what she calls her “embarrassing and shameful revelations.” Please welcome Marie. I am so glad she persevered and successfully completed her memoir project.
My Memoir Writing Journey
by Marie Abanga
Hi there, my name is Marie Abanga, author of the memoir My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption. I was so happy when one of my favorite authors, Madeline Sharples, offered to host me on her blog. She asked me to do a post on my memoir writing journey for other beginners like myself.
I sort of knew what memoirs were and had read several. But I had not come across one with such embarrassing and shameful revelations like I included in mine. There may be worse ones out there, but the authors are more prone to bring out their ‘victim hood’ than otherwise. Sure, I did that too but to a very limited extent – I focused on my story, my mess. This is what I think appealed to me most, that I write my story and just that. I decided to write it as honestly as possible.
To use or not to use characters
To begin with, please understand something about my context. In the part of the world I come from, precisely Cameroon, you DON’T write such ‘crap,’ and if you have to, don’t use your name. It is one of those ‘taboos.’ It was therefore no wonder that when my sister got wind of my project, she quickly advised I use characters. Of course, I had already decided to use ‘nick names’ for all but myself because I wanted to be known as that ‘shameless’ woman who ‘successfully’ lived ‘parallel lives.’ Using ‘characters or nick-names,’ saved or spared me some embarrassment, but revealing myself, got me some embarrassment too.
Coming out of the closet
I don’t think coming out of the closet should be reserved only to LGBT. I mean, writing a memoir of any kind is a revelation by itself. You reveal yourself to yourself and to the world. You reveal your family sort off and you reveal other ‘stuff,’ which may directly or indirectly concern or probe others. Actually for me, writing and publishing my memoir was a big therapy for my near ‘nervous breakdown.’ I needed to see myself on paper, in no-nonsense words and in all the different feelings I experienced as I wrote what I had so far lived.
Writing in hiding
To be candid, what I wrote was even very powerful and embarrassing to myself. I dreaded what would have happened had my mother or someone else stumbled upon it. I dared not write on paper, and this had disadvantages. I then also didn’t know as much about the writing and social networks and resource websites for writers of my genre. I was scared and yet determined. I wrote my chapters at midnight when all were asleep or at 3 am before starting my 4 am workouts. I tried to password the file and give it a weird name. Publishing while still in Cameroon was out of the question. I actually hid that file away for almost two years until I found myself in Belgium and discovered CreateSpace.
What I have learnt
There is no point ‘writing your memoir in hiding.’ There are lots of websites, workshops, and nice people out there prepared to help and guide or even reassure you as you embark on that ‘tedious journey.’ After ‘opening up’ and reading several other more poignant memoirs (though none from a Cameroonian or even an African author so far), I have come to realize and accept the fact that my story is not the worst ever. I have also come to benefit fully from the ‘largess’ of that ‘courageous endeavor.’ Indeed, as I keep telling people, my writing is my therapy and message and so is my memoir.
Thank you Madeline Sharples for writing your soulful memoir. Special gratitude also to some authors like Linda Joy Myers, Sherrey Meyer, Joyce Meyer, Iyanla Vanzaart, Ellen Johnson and of course Maya Angelou for sharing your stories and much more. I am forever inspired and motivated by strong women like you.
Marie Abanga describes herself as: “A dynamic and passionate woman, mother of three boys, lawyer, activist, mental health advocate and feminist.” She is a native of Cameroon in Africa and currently lives in Brussels, Belgium. She is enrolled at the Brussels School of International Studies as an LL.M candidate for international law with international relations. She also works as the Regional Manager Africa for the Women In Parliament Global Forum. Marie was a pioneer community champion for the UN Women Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment and has been spotlighted by various feminine magazines, including Women’s Lead and the Girls Globe. Fluent in English and French her native languages, she speaks pidgin English and tries to understand Italian and Swahili. In addition to her memoir, Marie keeps two blogs: her award-winning http://marieabanga.com andhttp://myeverydaypersonal.blogspot.be/. She is making strides into the social network world, keeps numerous journals including one for her first son, and has a second memoir in the ‘conception’ stage.