I’m very excited to have today’s guest with us today. Not only because her book touched me so much but also because she’s our very first author guest for my author blog! Margaret Norton has a lot of life experience under her belt and I was happy to see that she chose to share that experience with the world in written form. It’s a story of courage, determination, and a journey to self-love that many others can relate to.
I’ll let her tell you her story and her road to getting it out there. Be sure to stay around at the end as Margaret is offering a giveaway as well! Allow me to introduce you to Margaret.
CHYNNA: Welcome, Margaret! I’m so happy you were able to stop here along your blog tour. Let’s start with having you introduce yourself to our readers.
MARGARET: I am a divorced mother of two and grandmother of four. I’ve worked for several corporations, for non-profits and flirted with working for myself several times. For the past 18 years, I’ve worked in the mortgage business and the last four or five years this has been a real roller coaster ride. I turned 60 in December and I’m giving much thought to how I want to spend the rest of my life, which I hope is a very long time.
CHYNNA: Oh! I’m positive you will be! When were you first bitten by the writing bug? What experience led you down this path?
MARGARET: In 2004 eight people that I knew died, including my brother and my mother-in-law. In 2005 a therapist suggested that I write about my feelings. I shared this with a few people and they said, “You should write a book!” So, that’s what I did. I had no idea what I was getting into or how hard this would be.
CHYNNA: I’ll bet it was difficult initially. Memoirs have to be one of the most difficult kinds of stories to write because it is your story. Now, you’re here today to chat with us about your memoir, When Ties Break: A Memoir About How To Thrive After Loss. What an incredible life’s journey you’ve had! Let’s start with asking you why you chose now to tell this story. You’ve obviously been holding this inside of you for quite some time, but why was this the right time to tell it?
MARGARET: When I started writing about my life, I realized there were many other people who had similar experiences. It took me a very long time to realize that I was an abused woman and how that connection carried through my whole life, in most of my relationships. I volunteered at several women’s shelters and came to believe that it was only by talking about our problems could we hope to solve them. I don’t think that I could write until I made all the connections in my own life and until my healing was complete.
CHYNNA: Good for you! Writing once the healing has happened (or at least started) is honest. Writing when the hurt is still there isn’t the time to bring it out so I’m so happy to hear you waited until those connections were made. What was the actual writing process like for you? How does one prepare for sitting down to tell a story like this? Were you selective about what to include in your story or did you let it all out?
MARGARET: Initially I just wrote my whole story and it all spilled out. Then I went back through it three or four more times and started eliminating things. I took things out that I felt were extremely painful or potentially embarrassing. I changed everyone’s name.
CHYNNA: Yes, I can relate to that process. The spilling part is easy but understanding the way to clean up the spill so that it’s a great story but still a respectful one is the key. I think you hit the mark there. What was the most difficult aspect of writing When Ties Break? What was the best part?
MARGARET: The most difficult part was reliving all the painful events. It was hard writing about the things that I wrote about without doing a lot of soul-searching. There were several good things that happened. One was realizing that the book may not have put my family back together, but it put me back together. The other thing was seeing the positive effect that my story had on others.
CHYNNA: I love how you phrased that it put you back together. In the end, I think that’s the most important part. Good for you! On the publishing side of things, was it difficult ‘selling’ this story? What was the process like finding the right ‘home’ for the book?
MARGARET: It was much harder selling the book than it was writing it. Being an unknown writer was a hard sell. I’m not sure that I’ve found the right home for it yet. Selling one book at a time for now seems to be working. The good thing about writing a memoir is that it will never go out of date and I can continue to market it for the rest of my life.
CHYNNA: Exactly! That’s a phenomenal attitude to have. Have you reached that forgiveness and self-acceptance that you longed for all of these years? If so, did bringing this story out help with that process?
MARGARET: Writing my story did help. I feel like I’ve forgiven everyone in my life that I needed to. Sometimes it’s hardest to forgive yourself! Self-acceptance took a very long time. It’s hard not blaming yourself when bad things happen.
CHYNNA: Oh, trust me! I totally understand where you’re coming from. But it’s amazing that you reached that self-acceptance because so many other people in life never do. So that in itself makes it all worth it. Please give memoirists-in-waiting three or four things to keep in mind while writing their own life’s story.
MARGARET: Writing a memoir is not for sissies. Be prepared for some people to reject your idea to write about your personal life. Everyone has a different viewpoint and even though several people might experience the same thing they react to it differently. Know why you are writing your story. Is it to help others or to get back at someone?
CHYNNA: I’m so glad you brought up that last point, Margaret. Many of the memoirs I have read seem to have that purpose of ‘getting even’. Those aren’t the books that help so it was brave of you not to go that route. Do you have any future projects coming up that you’d like to share?
MARGARET: My book was the first thing that I wrote. There’s so much about writing that I do not know. I’m going back to the beginning, where most writers start. I’m doing articles and short stories. Future books will probably be much further down the road. Maybe a collection of survival stories. Maybe I’ll turn my story into fiction. For now bi-weekly posts on my blog allows me to continue writing plus share my personal experiences with others.
CHYNNA: That’s a great idea. Many writers become overwhelmed with that first book. But there are so many avenues you can take stemming from that project. Take it slow and things will come. One question I love asking my guests is what pearls of wisdom they’d like to share. You have been through so much and come so very far. I think you’re pearls would be invaluable.
MARGARET: Family dynamics can be extremely challenging but you only have one family. So many times we give up on our families when there’s conflict. I think that’s a mistake. Family is worth fighting for. Sometimes that means we have to forgive, even the unforgiveable. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things we ever do. It’s a gift we give ourselves. One of the main lessons that I’ve learned is to never give up. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we’d like it to. Sometimes we have to make changes, start over again, and even admit defeat. But these times can be learning experiences. No matter how bad things seem at the time, they always get better. Don’t ever give up.
CHYNNA: Margaret, that is just an amazing set of pearls. Thank you so much for sharing those. And you’re right about forgiveness. It’s one of the most difficult things to give and to accept. We thank Margaret for taking the time to join us here today, sharing both her insight about memoir writing as well as for being brave enough to share her story. As I mentioned earlier, Margaret is also generously having a giveaway too. Here are the details:
Leave a comment on this post to enter into Margaret’s Celebrate 60 blog tour contest. Margaret is celebrating her 60th birthday by giving away three grand prizes: a 30-minute FREE life coaching session (by phone—for U.S. residents only), her memoir in paperback (for U.S. residents only), and her memoir in e-book (for anyone!) format. Each blogger participating in the tour will randomly select one winner from all the comments and enter that name into the grand prize drawing. Margaret will contact the three grand prize winners for their choice of prize the week of 2/27 and announce winners on her blog on March 2. ***For extra entries into the contest, please tweet about the contest, using the hashtag #Celebrate60 OR tweet about why you love being the age you are! (Don’t forget to use the hashtag.) Anyone who tweets with #Celebrate60 will get an extra entry into the contest for the three grand prizes. Any questions? E-mail Margo, Margaret’s publicist, at margo (at) margodill.com.
***Thank you, Margaret. Feel free to come back anytime. You are always welcome here. And good luck to our followers!***