When I began writing my memoir, I was a headstrong 31 year-old intoxicated with the idea of getting even. I’d just been arrested in a foreign country. My traumatized daughters no longer spoke my language. And I was so broke I couldn’t afford the stamps for the zillion thank you cards I needed to send to people in Greece and Alaska for making my daughters’ return possible.
I wanted to hurt the people who’d hurt me. My former husband. The judge’s kid who drove my daughters and former husband to the Anchorage airport. The police detective who thought he’d use my neediness to get lucky. The Greek judge who ultimately overturned my custody rights.
I signed a movie rights contract, and was approached by a ghost-writer who wanted to write my story. I thought about it, but decided instead that I wanted to write my own story.
Thank God my sheer lack of literary talent slowed my roll. Because in the years that followed, I began reassembling my life and simultaneously began my memoir’s first draft. And taking a writing course here and there. And joining a critiquing group. And going to a whole lot of therapy.
While I don’t buy the adage that time heals all wounds, my work toward healing changed the lens in which I saw my story’s purpose. Year after year, draft after draft, it happened. I grew up, and while I processed some of the traumatic events that occurred, I was better able to see the miraculous events too that ultimately made it possible for my daughters to come home. My motivation shifted from delivering paybacks to helping readers understand some of universal themes that re-occurred in my story—domestic violence, child kidnapping, intergenerational trauma, and the buffers that a supportive community can provide those in need. I wrote a book with benefits.
And just 21 years later, planning my launch was easy. Since my book had benefits, it wasn’t difficult to engage the help of community partners who serve those impacted by my books themes. A percentage of profits would go to one the nonprofits, and the nonprofits would offer volunteer opportunities for the attendees. The venue was an easy choice: the University of Alaska Anchorage, where the future leaders of our community are shaping their opinions.
On October 5th, I launched Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters at UAA’s Bookstore, where I was joined by the amazing Elsie Boudreau from Arctic Winds, Healing Winds, and co-sponsored by the Alaska Humanities Forum, Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, the YWCA, Green Dot, Anchorage, Victims for Justice, and UAA’s Pre-Law Society. And I was joined by lifelong friends, university students, and best of all, my now-grown daughters.
Do you have a book nearing release, or nestled in your head? Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, there’s likely a benefit it’s giving to your reader. Look for it. Define it. And then find a partner to help you share it when you’re ready to publish. If it’s a nonprofit, be sure you volunteer for their events in exchange for them promoting yours. Writing is a lonely business, but promoting your book doesn’t have to be.
Lizbeth Meredith is a writer based in Alaska with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in psychology. She has worked as a domestic violence advocate and a child abuse investigator, and works with at-risk teens as a juvenile probation supervisor since 2000. Her memoir, Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters, was a silver medalist in the 2017 IPPY Awards. Lizbeth also published When Push Comes to Shove: How to Help When Someone You Love is Being Abused and is a contributor to A Girl’s Guide to Travelling Alone by Gemma Thompson. She can be reached at lameredith.com or on Facebook and Twitter.