Is it a good idea to write about your divorce after your divorce? In a book, in for a newspaper, for your diary? Opening up, emotional honesty for every tear and tantrum? Well I did all three, and having been on radio, presented talks around the country about ‘how to fictionalize your life in print..and get away with it,’ I’ve come to the conclusion the answer is ‘yes’, but with reservations.
Writing a diary of what is happening as it happens is a good idea. The lawyers are always interested in the facts and detail and what you may think is irrelevant they will find important. But when the dust has settled and you’re in your twilight years, and you may have forgotten what all the fuss is about, it’s important to remember what you have forgiven. Always forgive and let go of what is gone, but never forget because by doing so you will remember your own strength and the journey you've taken to get where you are today.
Opening up your heart in print in a magazine or newspaper is another matter and I’d advise against it. Unless you have strict control of what goes in and what’s left out it might come out as an emotional outpouring of cruelty and retribution when a far more balanced, both sides are culpable attitude would have greater impact and be far more help to couples going through or contemplating divorce or marriage for that matter. No one wins.
As for a book, I didn’t mean to write a book about what I got up to during and after the divorce, in fact the first one I wrote was about what I got up to before I got married. I had written a book on traveling with toddlers, dedicated to my son and the his father ‘all my love always’ (always comes back to haunt those dedications..) Completely by accident I met a woman at a party who happened to be the commissioning editor of Mills and Boon. When she gave me her card, I gave it back to her, ‘I don’t write about princes at the moment, I just know a toad.’ ‘We want toads, she replied, they’re more interesting copy.’ So I wrote my book THE LAST YEAR OF BEING SINGLE (Mira) which although not in the same league as EAT, PRAY, LOVE, worked as a catharsis and gave me something to do during the nights when I couldn’t sleep. It was a fictional account of what happened my own last year of being single, and it gave me my first two book deal when I least expected it and most needed it. There's a lot of sex in it.
The second The Last Year of Being Married (Mira), was like The Empire Strikes Back to Single’s Star Wars. The reviews on amazon are hilarious, so nasty, with detail that's not mentioned in the book, I can only guess they are from the ex, friends of the ex or someone who has been an ex, is a city trader and thanks his bank balance that their ex isn’t a writer or a novelist and has no aspirations to be one. I had written Single to show women that just because their partner may appear right on paper, doesn’t mean he’s right for you. I knew and know many women and men for that matter who go up the aisle very unsure they’re doing the right thing only everything has been paid for already. With Married, a book every couple wanting to be married should read (if you still want to after reading it, you do love each other), I wanted to show women there is light at the end of the tunnel. Book writing is a wonderful way to step out of yourself and view the drama, not be the drama.
Since then I’ve written five more books, all fictionalized accounts of various times in my life – The Younger Man, The Playground Mafia, The Battle for Big School, Schools Out and the most recent The Control Freak Chronicles. They are all about 'single mother with son' against the world sort of thing, with a few heroines who are happily married although realistically I never really identified with those ones. At the moment, I’m writing a children’s book which has absolutely nothing to do with control freak ex’s or divorce or bullying in or out of the playground of life or the local school. Done that, been there....