08:00:28 am on August 9, 2012 |
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Sheila Hageman is a multi-tasking wife and mother of three who blogs for The Huffington Post. Her memoir, Stripping Down, February 2012, from Pink Fish Press, is a meditation on womanhood and body image.
When was the moment you decided to write down your life in the form of a memoir?
Ever since I was a little girl I liked writing about my personal experiences. I wrote poems, journals and stories. I think from being a very shy person I liked the idea of talking on the page rather than out loud.
When I was eighteen and started stripping, I always had a notebook with me to jot down notes. I felt there would be a time at some point in my life when I would want to write about my experiences. It wasn’t for another fifteen years that I would begin my graduate degree in writing and get really serious about writing a memoir.
So I had a lot of stripper notes about stories from my past that I had been scratching out for a dozen years. When I went to college for my undergraduate degree when I was 25, I started thinking about myself as a writer again; I worked on stories of my childhood. Then when I started my MFA, I focused more on writing about the present—my life as a new mother, doing yoga and caring for my mother who had breast cancer.
Through starting in the present of my “stories” I soon found doorways into my past. Connections between the present and the past introduced themselves to my writer’s mind and I found myself weaving together the stories of my life in a woman’s body from past and present.
I would say all together the actual forming of Stripping Down took a solid four years.
If you were to choose a famous actress to play you’re role in a movie adaptation who would it be? You’re story kind of reminds me of a few movies with Demi Moore or Julia Roberts.
Hmm…that’s a fun question. I know I’ve been asked that before and never had an answer. It’s like, do I choose someone who I think looks like me or who I think could really play the role? I’m not up on all the young actresses out there, so I think I’d need some suggestions! Of course, being a former actress, there’s a large part of me that shouts out—me! Me! Choose me!
What was the most difficult thing to write about?
The most difficult things to write about? That’s hard to answer. The first answer that pops into my head is that writing about the present tense stuff that was going on with my mother’s illness was the hardest in an immediate sense. Having to really look at my feelings about losing my mother during what turned out to be a preemptive mourning period was brutal emotionally.
But then at the same time, I was exploring some very unhappy childhood memories and some really unpleasant issues about myself that I hadn’t dealt with yet, so that was difficult to deal with, too.
Honestly, none of it was very easy. Writing memoir is not an easy task; there are so many memories and issues to confront within oneself if, as a writer, one wants to really get at the truth about oneself.
Do you have any advice for other memoir writers out there?
My greatest piece of advice is to be sure you have a support system in place for yourself before you get writing really in depth about difficult stuff. Whether it means you have a friend or a therapist whom you can turn to for advice and a shoulder to lean on or you have family members how can be there to support you.
Writing memoir is very therapeutic, but it can also be overwhelming if you come across memories you’re not really ready to face yet. Be prepared. Be good to yourself. If some material comes up that feels too intense for you to look at, consider putting those memories away for another day if you don’t feel strong enough to deal with them at the moment.
Most importantly, be honest with yourself. Don’t sugarcoat your life or memoires to protect others. Write as if no one will ever read your words to allow yourself the opportunity to be really truthful.
Therapy in words and the truth from reflection. Memoir in Stripping Down.
Until Next Time!