Hello World, this is the first of what I hope to often do: Profile & Interview and help promote New memoir authors! Why Memoirs? Because that’s the genre I write and it’s still a ‘shy’ genre especially, in my corner of the globe – Africa. My first author to be interviewed and profiled happens to be a dear friend and sister in Christ. I fell in love with the first of her blog posts I stumbled across – yes on the very night I was fumbling around trying to start my own blog! Her post titled «Am I a blogger or a …?» almost made me give up before I even started; and to think she’d been into blogging a good while? But then, that post ended on a note of so much hope – yes she was – yes I could become one too if I wanted and kept at it with faith.
This is what I have also gathered from reading her maiden but oh so soul searching memoir: shared from deep within her soul and titled just that. Without much ado, I’ll interview her for your reading pleasure and let her tell us more about herself and her journey to become this published author today. It ain’t easy I can tell, been there and still go through there, but she will agree it’s worth ever step of the journey…
Note: The post is way longer than my usual posts, I didn’t want to leave any area out and didn’t want to do a P1 & P2… I think whoever reads through the end will love it.
1) The Profile
- Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:
My name is June Whittle. I was born in Jamaica and relocated to the UK to join my parents when I was a teenager. It was tough leaving my grandmother (who raised me) and my sisters behind. I had to readjust to the climate – it was very cold – and the way of life. The culture in Jamaica was very different to that in the UK. Jamaicans are bubbly, carefree, happy-go-lucky people. I was used to sunshine, loud car horns, a variety of colours, fresh home grown food and other cultural activities. The day I arrived in the UK, it was grey, quiet and everyone looked moody. I was sad.
Anyway, I continued with my education in the UK, started relationships, (some were abusive) worked in various fields and gave birth to my daughters. I became a mature student in 2007 and went to university to complete a PGCE teacher training course to become a teacher. Afterwards, I taught in further education colleges and met some wonderful people along the way. In 2012 God told me to quit my teaching job and write books. I gave up teaching in 2013, stepped out in faith and started a freelance writing career.
- About your Memoir, how did you come up with the title?
Well, I knew I wanted to write about my life, but coming up with a title was hard. Then one day “Deep Within my Soul” popped into my head. I knew straight away it was the right title for my book. You could call it divine inspiration.
2) The Soul Journey
- I heard Oprah Winfrey say Love doesn’t hurt; what’s your take on that?
Love is a beautiful thing. It’s not meant to hurt, but it does hurt if you end up with the wrong person. I believe it depends on what we mean by love. Although my partners and I thought we loved each other, it was a dysfunctional kind of love because we didn’t love ourselves. Therefore, our love wasn’t whole. It’s hard to give 100% of what you haven’t got. So, instead of the joys of love, I mostly experienced the pains of love.
- Did the love in your relationships hurt from the start or something happened down the road?
In the beginning, it was absolutely wonderful. When you first meet a man or woman you go through the honeymoon period where everything is beautiful. During that period, they can’t do anything wrong. In other words, you don’t see their faults because you’re on cloud nine and consumed by the love feelings. That’s how it was for me too. But, after a few months (when the honeymoon period wears off) he started to look at other women and became obsessed with them. That’s when he started cheating and our relationship changed. From then on problems crept in.
- Can you tell who was to blame and what you felt about all this then?
I think he was to blame for the fact that he couldn’t keep himself away from other women. But I also blame myself because I was shy, naïve, insecure and didn’t know how to satisfy him. Looking back now, I see myself as very immature and I didn’t know anything about relationships. However, some people might say that’s no excuse for him to cheat on me. He took it far, and chatted up my friends in front of me. This led to verbal and physical abuse, plus lack of trust and many heartaches.
- I read a lot of poems about Love in your memoir, and yet you were going through so much pain! So how did you find it writing about love while living pain?
Although I was hurting, the only way for me to find peace in my heart was to write about the love I yearned for. I wrote a lot of poems about my broken heart. Those poems came from deep within my soul. I suppose I was trying to touch their hearts with my words, although I didn’t show them the poems. It’s like I was living in a make-belief world. I knew what I wanted, I couldn’t get it so, I created my own world where I was safe to write what I wanted. Writing poems kept me sane. It was my lifeline as I poured out my painful feelings on the pages in my notepad.
- Do you think there is an ideal time frame to wait before moving from one abusive relationship into another relationship we hope not to turn out as sour?
It’s extremely important to heal from an abusive relationship before going into another relationship. Otherwise, you will carry the toxic junk with you. The toxic junk is a combination of anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and sometimes hate. When you carry those negative things in your heart, sooner or later they will surface and mess up your new relationship.
Imagine buying an old car that hasn’t been serviced or taken care of. It’s got lots of faults but you can’t see them. Eventually, the car will start to give you problems. On the other hand, if you buy a well looked after serviced car, it’s less likely to break down on you. Plus, you will get a smooth drive and it will last you longer than the one that wasn’t maintained properly. Likewise, not servicing your heart, mind and soul after an abusive relationship will have disastrous consequences on a new relationship.
- What’s forgiveness got to do with healing?
Forgiveness and healing go hand-in-hand. It’s difficult to heal properly if you hold unforgiveness in your heart. Unforgiveness is like a chain around your heart. It squeezes it tight and tighter till it drains your emotional and physical energy. As long as it’s living in you, real healing cannot take place. This includes healing of sicknesses as well as your mind.
A friend did a project with some primary school children recently about forgiveness. She gave them a heavy rucksack each, to carry on their backs. Some said they didn’t mind as the rucksacks were quite light. However, after carrying them on their backs for a while, they became heavy and weighted the children down, causing them to feel uncomfortable and unable to walk properly. That’s what unforgiveness does. It drags you down and affects all areas of your life. Nonetheless, when you forgive, you let go of all toxins and your body will feel light and live again. Painful memories may linger, but will no longer be a problem. That’s when you know that healing has taken place.
3) The Writing
- Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?
No. Although this is my first memoir, I didn’t base it on style, presentation or content of other writers. This is mostly because mine has poems so it’s different to other memoirs I read. I went with my gut feelings when writing. But, formatted it correctly to meet the requirements for uploading to Kindle for the eBook, and Create Space for the paperback. I followed their guidelines.
- Did you have a writing mentor?
No, I’ve never had a writing mentor. I took two creative writing courses, many years ago and a copywriting course in 2012. That helped develop my writing skills, along with reading books about writing.
- Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?
It was the first chapter where I summarized a little about my story. While writing, old painful memories came back and made me tearful and sad. I also felt negative emotions such as anger, resentment and unforgiveness. I was surprised because I thought I had dealt with those emotions. Clearly, they were still alive in my heart. I wrote about it in chapter 11 – “Finding Hope, my Testimony of Healing”. It’s amazing how we can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve done something, when we haven’t.
- How did you deal with that?
Well, first I talked to God about it and asked Him to take away those feelings. I felt better afterwards. However, I still had more work to do in that area. So, I repented and prayed from my heart to forgive my abusers for deep healing to take place.
- Which was your favourite poem and why?
It’s False Love. It was one of the hardest poems to write because it was written out of an extremely painful experience. Nevertheless, it was my favourite because that poem started off my writing experiences. From that poem, other poems followed which helped the healing process of writing to release toxic emotions.
- I read two real life excerpts in your memoir, was this to add to the veracity of abuse as a phenomenon or to show the resilience of the human spirit?
Those real life excerpts were to demonstrate the power of forgiveness. The abuse these two women suffered were extreme, although diverse. The first example was a vicious form of domestic abuse. The second example was of a teenager being raped by her uncle plus other cruel types of abuse. However, both women decided to forgive their abusers for the sake of their mental health, peace in their lives and more.
- Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and what was it?
While writing, I did research about forgiveness and discovered there is a connection between unforgiveness and sickness such as cancer, arthritis, heart problems and other stress related illness. I also learnt that extra healing was taking place for me as I was writing my memoir. By the time I finished the last chapter, I felt free of any excess burdens that may have been clinging to my heart.
- How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published?
It took me nearly one year to write because I kept starting and stopping. I changed my mind a few times because I was nervous about telling my story to the world. But my daughters and close friends encouraged me to do it. Also, because God told me to write it in the first place, I didn’t want to disobey Him. The self-publishing process took me nearly a week. The technical formatting part of it was rather challenging.
4) The Message
- Do you have any advice for other memoir writers?
Yes, I think if your story can help others from the lessons you learnt, you should share it. Life is full of pitfalls, some good and some good. There are many lessons along the way. However, not everyone learns from their experiences. But those who learn have gold nuggets to share with others in the form of memoirs. If you can help even a handful of people struggling with the issues you came out of, it’s worth writing your stories. Your story can change another person’s life for the better. Another word of advice, make sure you have supportive people around you. It’s important to get as much encouragement as possible to boost your confidence while you write.
- Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to give you the information you need to add value to your lives. My blogs and memoir are not just about me. They are to inspire, encourage, educate and motivate you. I love when you contact me by email or leave comments on my blogs advising me what I can do for you in future blog posts. Or, how you take away something positive from my writing. This is always my aim. Feedback is extremely important to me. So, please, always tell me whether I’m providing value or not.
- Any other writing projects, blogging etc?
I plan to open up my two blogs, Miraculous Ladies and Arise Single Christian Mummies for guest blogging in 2017. It’s time I share my platforms with other aspiring or professional writers out there. I also intend to hold workshops related to my memoir. I included writing prompts in the last chapter. I want to take it further and hold small groups or one-to-one workshops to help women write away toxic emotions that’s keeping them captive. In addition, “Deep Within my Soul” is book one of a series of inspirational memoirs based on exclusive and beneficial relationship life-lessons.
- Where can your memoir be found?
The Kindle eBook and paperback are available on Amazon. Here is the link for readers who want to buy a copy: Deep Within my Soul: Hope After Abuse
Thank you very much for answering our questions June. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects.
Dear readers, please feel free to drop any questions/remarks/observations you may have in the comments section, thank you for reading along.