Ten years ago, I started a journey in writing my Memoirs, Burnt Face. This expedition began when a dear friend of mine, Natasha, nagged me to pen my recollections into a book. Each afternoon Natasha and I would rollerblade around the streets of Mackay’s Northern Beaches to keep fit and during these fun and exhausting sessions, in between gasping for breath, I would reminisce about my childhood and the experiences I had whilst growing up in Broadmeadows. I shared many stories of tragedy, challenges, survival, joy and ultimately triumph. These conversations always finished with Natasha saying, “You should write a bloody book!”. So, I did!
It’s not easy putting your memories and thoughts down on paper (so to speak) and I have often found myself talking out aloud as if retelling the story to someone, rather than typing silently away at my computer. I originally wrote Burnt Face so that my children might have a better understanding of what happened to me when I was a child because they have never really delved deep into how I got burnt. My family, especially Mum, have never read the draft. For Mum the memories were just too painful and she couldn't even get past the first couple of pages. My husband and children have always said they would read the book when I publish it.
It probably only took 4 months to complete the first draft, which I then sent off to writing communities, friends and acquaintances. I received a lot of positive feedback from them, suggesting that I polish it up and then publish the book. Over the years I have completed a couple of edits, sent them off to editors and then procrastinated for years. I don't believe I was ready to put myself out there until now.
Throughout this writing process, I have found it to be extremely therapeutic, not only for myself but also my Mum. She blames herself for the accident at her work’s corporate Christmas barbecue on December 8th 1974. I have never blamed her because it was the careless actions of one man, not my Mum, and his foolishness that left me badly burned with horrific scars to 30% of my upper body. I finally convinced Mum that it would mean a lot to me if she read each chapter as I edited them and then give me valuable feedback. She reluctantly agreed and during these chapter reads we have both shed a lot of tears.
Mum found the strength to relive some of her most haunting memories and provide me with valuable insight which impacts greatly on the book. I am so proud of her for reliving what was the most horrific time of her life, and I hope that she finally realises that I thank her for everything she has done for me and sculpting me into the person I am today.
Writing the book has been a roller coaster of emotions as I have had to put myself back into my childhood and relive some very traumatic experiences. Family and friends have noticed the effect the past few weeks have had with my behaviour. I am usually quite positive and understanding, but lately I have been very emotional and at times quite assertive. You really have to be that person again and feel all of the emotions that are prevalent at the time. I am very aware of these emotions and have spent the past week grounding myself and stepping back out of my past.
It is a bit daunting putting yourself out to the world. I think that is why I have procrastinated for so long. My husband and children refusal to read the book until it is published, I believe, is their way of motivating me to get it out there! Well, it is now about to happen and I am full of mixed feelings.
Relief: It is finally almost complete.
Anxious: I am really opening myself up to the public.
Overwhelmed: I am so grateful for the support I am receiving.
Excited: I can’t wait to share my journey with family and friends.
I am looking forward to sharing my story with you when it is released on October 11, my birthday. :)