Memoir Author Interview: Kim Justus Speaks About the Struggle to Write Her Memoir

by Matilda Butler on January 11, 2012

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #72 – Women’s Memoirs, Author Conversations – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

A ruptured brain aneurysm, a doctor’s misdiagnosis, a coma. These events marked the beginning of Kim Justus’s story that she would eventually write. Her memoir is now available both as a Kindle ebook and a print book. Recently, Women’s Memoirs asked Kim about writing that memoir. Here’s what she shared with us:

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question #1. Kim. We noticed that it took you a long time to decide to write your memoir. Can you share with our readers when and why you finally decided it was time to write?

Kim Justus: It took me fifteen years to transform my old journal into a book. One reason was the episode was so horrific, that I just wanted to delete it from my memory. My desire was that I could “get back to normal” and try to forget that some of the events ever happened. In the journals there was a happy ending. Tragedy, recovery, then off into the sunset where true love resides. All stories should end that way, right?

I allowed the journal to collect dust in an old plastic bin in the basement, as life went on and the years stacked up. From time to time, my mom would pester me about digging the journal out and writing a book. She told me that people would be interested in my story, because it was a story of survival and divine intervention. I kept telling her, “maybe someday.” One aspect of my experience was undeniable. It changed my life. The illness, the insight bestowed by God, the lessons learned, and that I continue to learn. I shared my story sparingly over the years, but write a book and tell the world?

Two years ago, a friend suggested I join her at a meeting of her Writer’s group. She was a former English teacher. I went along, but when I found out that these people were current English instructors, past English instructors and published authors, I tried to gracefully back out. My background was in business. I wasn’t an English major or an author, so I didn’t think I fit in. Sure I had written a few poems in my time, but I certainly wasn’t on par with this group! The leader of the group looked me in the eye and said, “All you have to do is write. I know you have a story to tell, and the fact that you aren’t an English major, are what editor’s are for.” Every month he sent out an email reminder of our meeting, which he signed off with “Write On.” That email of David’s, my mom’s growing insistence, and an unexpected break in my schedule, convinced me that now was the time. My parents were a big part of my story, so if I was ever going to write a book, I wanted to do it while they were still alive to see my project come to fruition. That was four months ago.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question #2. What was the most difficult part of writing your memoir?


Kim Justus: I used the excuse that I didn’t want to go digging for the journal for a long time, but one day I had a V-8 moment. This was MY story. I didn’t need the old journal. I just needed to sit down and “write on.” So I did. More information had been revealed in the time since I first penned those old pages in my journal. Now the facts came full circle, and this was my time. The project stirred up a lot of emotions, that I thought were long left behind. Forcing myself to re-experience the feelings from that time was very hard. I quit at least three times before I completed the project.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question #3. Do you feel that writing your memoir changed you in some way?

Kim Justus: On some level I felt “called” to finally share my experience with a larger audience. I was shown something that few people ever experience. What I saw was an enduring gift, wrapped in a morbid slice of life. I forged on, somewhere finding the strength to look back, feel the feelings, and complete my memoir. I believe the exercise was cathartic, but also affirming. The satisfaction of actually stepping up to the plate and seeing it through, feels wonderful.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question #4. Thank you Kim for telling us about your experiences writing your memoir. I have one more question. I wonder if you have any advice for women who are now working on their memoir or who are considering starting one?

Kim Justus: I know that everyone has a story inside of them. Some just think about it, and some are moved to actually write it down. I encourage anyone who has seriously entertained the idea to make it a priority. We only have one life to grab all the experiences we can. Someone will always learn from our efforts, and I really believe that each of us can make a difference in the lives of others. This is one of those things I won’t have to look back on thinking, “What if,” because now it is.

storytelling, memoir, memoir writing

I’d be glad to have you contact me about my memoir. You can reach me through my website. I hope as many have touched my life with their words, that I might do the same for you.

storytelling, memoir, memoir writing











{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim January 12, 2012 at

The Writer’s group I joined and speak of above is at finelines.org It’s a wonderful book of short stories and poems that is published quarterly. While you are working on your memoirs, and using the great tools provided here by Matilda & Kendra…submit a shorter piece to Fine Lines. They are a non profit that promotes literacy, creativity and expression for “kids” 5 to a 105! If you have poems or short stories it’s another place to submit, in a quality book located around the world. Their editor David gave me the confidence I needed to seek other resources like those provided here by Women’s Memoirs. There is such a wealth of helpful information here, that I feel truly blessed to have found you ladies. I have to applaud and appreciate your knowledge and support ladies. Thanks so much for the interview!

Thanks to those of you who read my book. I’m new author and appreciate your comments and support. LOVE Rosie’s Daughter’s! Genealogy is a hobby of mine, so I really love history and this collection of well researched and presented stories. :)
Kim

Matilda Butler January 12, 2012 at

Kim:

Thanks for joining us at Women’s Memoirs. We feel we’ve come to know you better through your thoughtful interview. Best wishes with your memoir. We know many women who will benefit from reading it.

-Matilda

Tammy Hudson January 13, 2012 at

I really enjoyed reading this interview. I have known Kim for several years now and even heard part of her story before she put it in book form. This is a great blog and I am eager to keep learning myself.

Martha EJ Wood January 14, 2012 at

Kim’s preliminary info and interview strikes a cord. I have acquaintance with a couple of people who have had head/brain injury. The experience and life decisions this woman made will help many in their quest for an altered life that is worthwhile.

sharen January 14, 2012 at

I have greatly enjoyed Kim’s memoir and would like to add I too have just suffered from a brain injury from falling down a flight of stairs. I too was in a coma and had to come out. That is a story in itself. But I really did enjoy this seassion with her. Thanks for the interview with Kim. Sometimes you feel you’re a little unbalanced from having such a brain injury due to lack of memory and self esteem.
sharen garnett

Kim January 17, 2012 at

Sharen I feel you on that last sentence. Writing a book helps some. :) Thanks ladies for reading my interview. Please encourage your friends.

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