I am obviously breaking my own vow of silence not to write on this blog until I have finished the second rough draft of my book. Oh well, as some say, vows are made to be broken. I am paying attention to the sentence related to yesterday’s post that must have something to teach me in this process or it would never have appeared in the first place, and certainly would not have stuck around.
What, I ask myself, do I need to know that is contained in this statement? I tell myself I want readers of my book to close its covers afterward and think, “My! My! That was the nicest book about child abuse I have ever read.”
I sent my chapter four I worked hard on yesterday via email to someone last night. This guinea pig messaged back to me that it needs to be rewritten because the wording is redundant and makes the brain tired in its reading. They next messaged that they immediately went to find their snippers to trim their nose hair, a task that had been long overdue.
OK. THAT worked!
Better I have this information now — than later.
“Frogs in pots of boiling water,” I think to myself. I doubt it’s true that if one throws a frog into a pot of lukewarm water and turns the heat up under it slowly that the frog won’t ever notice it was boiled to death. Is it true that if one instead drops a frog into an already boiling pot of water it will be able to immediately leap out to safety?
But I do understand by my guinea pig’s response to my chapter four that I can make some very real efforts in my book writing about horrendous infant-child abuse to not only make a reader’s experience NICE, but to make their reading of the story possible at all.
Next I think about losing something important that we need to find. Do we need to dump a purse out and rummage through its contents? Do we need to dump out our tool box and do the same? Our kitchen junk drawer? (I realize as I write this that I have lived in this house for five years, and for the first time in my adult life I have NO kitchen junk drawer!) What are we looking for? We will never know until we first ask a question.
Then I next think about something therapists call ‘transference’ and ‘counter transference”. All abused children experience transference when the big people in their life dump their junk onto their children — brutally.
There is acceptable transference between a client and a therapist as a client begins to rummage around in the accumulated, pain-filled junk in their life. It is common for clients to temporarily dump parts of their junk onto their therapist’s desktop. The therapist needs to know how to handle this transference for the betterment of their client’s well-being.
Then there is counter transference that happens as a therapist ‘picks up’ information from their client that comes through as feelings, thoughts, ideas and attitudes in the therapist that invisibly belong to the client. This can also happen dangerously when a therapist dumps their own junk back onto a poor client!
The important thing is that counter transference contains vital information needed in a therapy process. Therapists are trained to recognize and to handle this entire process on both sides skillfully and well. How much of this process will go on between what I say in my book and how readers experience my story? How do I be responsible for this process when I will not be able to see it happening?
My book is a story about horrendous piles of junk. The junk is mine. And yet I would be stupid not to recognize that there will be readers with abusive and traumatic histories of their own who get their own junk mixed up with what they are reading about mine. I need to be as NICE as I can to my readers by choosing carefully how this process unfolds.
Many readers will have trauma histories of their own that have not been resolved. They therefore probably have questions about what happened to them, either consciously or not. As my story unfolds before their eyes these questions will awaken. Some of them might clamor loudly for answers. Some questions might whisper. Some questions might silently sneak around in the corners of readers’ mind as uncomfortable feelings that can lead readers to abandon the story I am trying to tell them.
But I do know from froggie reader #1 that no reader will tolerate being given answers for questions before the reader has had the questions awakened within them.
Nor will readers be able to tolerate the reading of my book about child abuse until they have gained some comfort in the boiling waters of hell this story is about. If readers have traumatic abuse histories of their own they need to be able to recognize gradually that what they are thinking and feeling as they read my book is not about me. Their reactions will have a whole lot to do with what lies unhealed in their self. I do not want my readers to abandon ship before the ship has even been unmoored or left port.