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memoir interview

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #87 – Women’s Memoirs, Author Conversations – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Kendra Bonnett and I are pleased to welcome Destiny Allison to Women’s Memoirs today. Destiny’s blog last week focused on her decision to self-publish. Today she responds to our questions about her writing and about the relationship between art and self-discovery.

We think you’ll enjoy her responses and we invite you to leave Destiny your comments below.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question 1. Destiny, you are an established sculptor and painter and I’m sure your pursuit of your art keeps you fully occupied. Yet at some point, you felt the need to tell your story in your new memoir: Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life. What created the need to write your memoir?

Destiny Allison, memoir author interview, memoir Destiny Allison: That’s a complicated question. On the surface, I was prompted to write at least part of my book by sculpture students who wanted a text to which they could refer. Several failed attempts later, I put it aside. I felt like what I had to share was more suited to a classroom than it was to a book. In the classroom, my “lessons” were interspersed with life stories and consequently richer than just the application of ideas.

I sat with this awareness for a long time and didn’t try to write. Then I entered a new relationship and that made me want to look deeply at my first marriage. I was ready, for the first time, to really examine what had happened to cause it to fail.

Somewhere along the way, I got the urge to write the book. I realized that my personal stories, art, and ideas are interwoven and that became the subject most worthy of my exploration. Shaping Destiny is the result of that effort.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question 2. Staying on the same subject, I wonder if you would share your thoughts on how your perspective on sculpting and painting influence the way you write? Clearly all three are creative endeavors yet quite different in the specifics. I know our readers would gain from an understanding of your thinking on this.

Destiny Allison, memoir author interview, memoir Destiny Allison: In my memoir, I talk a great deal about a theory I have regarding the emotional symbolism of geometric shapes. This theory had a powerful impact on the “shape” of my book. In addition, my grasp of light and shadow, negative and positive space, and the importance of movement and places of rest translated to my words. The structure of the book is unusual for a memoir and it was my intent to create a work of art similar to my sculptures. Consequently, I applied same fine art theory to the written work.

For example, an intense narrative about an event in my life gets the reader caught up in the story, but if I do not give the reader a place to slow down, she can become overwhelmed and lose the function that particular memory has in context with the themes of the book.

My main my theme is self-discovery through personal expression and how that discovery serves to help one become self-actualized. There are also sub themes around the particular struggles of being a woman artist, abusive relationships, and what it means to truly commit to one’s passion. The book had to be structured in such a way that the reader experiences what I lived. That meant that I had to use the tools I gleaned as a visual artist to effectively show, instead of just tell.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question 3. Many struggle to get their arms around their memoir and writing it usually takes years. How long did it take you to write your memoir? What was the most difficult aspect?

Destiny Allison, memoir author interview, memoir Destiny Allison: Shaping Destiny took two years to write. Then it took another two to revise. After that, I put it on a shelf and didn’t look at it again until last year. All in all, the process took ten years.

The most difficult aspects for me were 1) deciding which personal stories to keep and which to discard and 2) trusting myself enough to allow the book into the world.

I didn’t want to whine, I wanted to tell my truth, and I wanted my stories to make a difference in the lives of my readers. Culling through all the hurts and hopes was both painful and cathartic. In the end, deciding which stories weren’t worth the book helped me to realize that they probably weren’t worth attention in my life either.

Trusting myself, especially when it came time to share the book with my family prior to publication, was even more challenging. In the end, that too was a healing thing – especially when my mother found her own courage and agreed to let me share some parts of her life so that the stories might help other women break the cycle of which she and I both victim.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Question 4.And finally, what words of advice do you have for women currently working on their memoirs?



Destiny Allison, memoir author interview, memoir Destiny Allison: There are a lot of memoirs out there that serve to witness historical events and/or share trauma. For me, a great memoir is one that serves to inform my life. If you are writing yours, make a promise to yourself and your readers that you will seek out a deeper meaning in your story. Ask yourself what compels you to write. Is it just to get something off your chest, or did you learn something from your travails that you are uniquely capable of sharing? If so, do your best to weed out the parts of your life that hinder that message, but leave enough in for readers to make the same discovery on their own.

If you prefer to read the Kindle version, then click on the book image to the left.

memoir, memoir writing, journaling, autobiographyWomen’s Memoirs: Destiny, Women’s Memoirs wants to thank you for sharing both your experiences and your perspective.

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Memoir Author Interview: Women’s Memoirs Talks with Cathy Sherman Freemen

by Matilda ButlerJune 6, 2012
Memoir Author Interview: Women’s Memoirs Talks with Cathy Sherman Freemen

Women’s Memoirs welcomes Cathy Sherman Freeman. Her interview tells a little about her past, her present, and her current life challenge as she faces the same rare cancer as her father — a cancer that ended his career with Disney and her Disney childhood.

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Memoir Writing Tips: Interviewing and The Art of Listening

by Kendra BonnettFebruary 20, 2012
Memoir Writing Tips: Interviewing and The Art of Listening

Personal historian Lin Joyce shares a charming story about using treasured heirlooms to put an interview subject at ease. It’s then for the interviewer to sit back and capture the golden memories.

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Memoir Author Interview: Women’s Memoirs Talks with Katherine Mayfield

by Matilda ButlerOctober 19, 2011
Memoir Author Interview: Women’s Memoirs Talks with Katherine MayfieldMemoir Author Interview: Women’s Memoirs Talks with Katherine Mayfield

Memoir Author Speaks: Katherine Mayfield shares her thoughts on the process of memoir writing.

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Memoir Author Interview: Tracy Seeley on her Memoir, My Ruby Slippers

by Matilda ButlerJuly 27, 2011
Memoir Author Interview: Tracy Seeley on her Memoir, My Ruby Slippers

Women’s Memoirs talks with memoir author Tracy Seeley about her new memoir, My Ruby Slippers. Come listen in.

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