Guest Post | The costs and benefits of telling the truth by @MEstorge #guestpost #memoir #bookboost



Marie Estorge is the author of In the Middle of Otherwise, Storkbites: A Memoir, and Confessions of a Bi-Polar Mardi Gras Queen. Her essays have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Contra Costa Times, and Diablo.


The first memoir class I attended was taught by Adair Lara, a former San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Before sharing my writing with anyone, I’d written privately in my home office and in cafes and bookstores until I had twelve hundred handwritten pages, a tell-all about my wealthy family from Louisiana. Each time I read a chapter in Adair’s class, and later in others, showcasing the abuse, drinking, and insanity that went on in my house growing up, I would shake uncontrollably with shame, anger, and hurt. Mostly, I found that instead of facing judgment from my classmates, my stories were met with compassion. One writer at a conference, however, told me and the class that she hated the protagonist in my story because the character came off as a victim. The writer even followed me into the bathroom during break to reiterate how unsympathetic she found the protagonist, to which I replied, “Okay. Thank you. I get it.” Luckily, I was more often commended on my bravery, honesty, and humor. The validation and empathy were so freeing. I loved learning that I wasn’t alone. Other families were also screwed up. Others survived. Others overcame. I craved to tell more and more people my story.


In 2013, Creative Arts published my first memoir, Storkbites. I shared prepublication excerpts with my six sisters. Three sisters supported the book. Three were opposed—one asking the others why I hated her so much to write such hurtful things. I had the right to tell the truth about my experiences, I thought, justifying the book, even if publishing it meant exposing my siblings and potentially humiliating our deceased parents and their legacy.


Hoping to gain exposure for the book, I sent a copy of Storkbites to my hometown newspaper. A reported called my sisters to verify the story and to get quotes. Some refused to answer the phone. One left town. One screamed so hard and loud that she damaged her vocal cords. My closest sister ignored my calls. Hurt by her silence, I went to her house to talk. I wanted her approval. She would barely look at me. Although she had supported the book prior to publication, even saying I’d gone too easy on our mother, now that it was a realty, now that her friends were reading about her, not only me, she just wanted to be left alone. She didn’t want to be dragged into the disgrace I’d brought on our family. She asked if I was getting even with one of our sisters. I needed to “get over” my obsession with the past, she said. She claimed I’d put my sisters’ careers at risk. Leaving her house, I felt as if she’d yanked out my heart and stomped on it.


I still believe that writing about my childhood and struggles and sharing my story provided healing and catharsis—for myself and others who had similarly suffered abuse and neglect. My memoir helped readers see that they were not alone. Readers expressed gratitude. Despite the healing the book brought many, it also caused significant anger, hurt, and resentment for others. Sadly, the backlash was felt by sons. The hurt they suffered is still one of my greatest regrets. In addition to causing strife with their father, their best friend’s mom no longer allowed her son to play at our house. In a custody battle, a friend’s ex-husband claimed an excerpt showing our wild college days proved her to be an unfit parent. I lost friends over unnecessary and mean asides that I thought added levity or insight.


At book events, I have met aspiring authors who are determined to tell their stories. One writer said she didn’t care if her family never spoke to her again. It was her story, hers to tell. I cautioned this memoir writer and others about being too honest. I asked them to consider the emotional cost of outing and alienating friends and family. Are there unnecessary, tangential details in their book that should be reconsidered? Do these embarrassing or hurtful truths really advance the story and provide greater insight? What is their motivation for sharing these memories? Are they settling a score? Serving up justice? In telling their story, whose story are they also telling? Do their memories agree with others’?


As I work on my third memoir, a cautionary tale about dating, I am trying to determine what is my story? Do I have a right to reveal things about others, even if I felt wronged and hurt by these people? Will the satisfaction and healing I receive from sharing my story outweigh the pain and grievances it may cause? These questions have become my guideposts.


Scroll down to read more about Marie Estorge’s new release…



Title: THEN THERE WAS LARRY: A MEMOIR

Author: MARIE ESTORGE

Genre: MEMOIR

Publisher: ALLUVIUM BOOKS


Book Blurb


From Marie Estorge, bestselling author of Storkbites: A Memoir and Confessions of a Bipolar Mardi Gras Queen, comes THEN THERE WAS LARRY, a real-life cautionary tale of deception and scandal. Marie offers a unique and razor-sharp look at duplicity and betrayal among friends and lovers in her newest memoir. Headlines about the arrest of a well-regarded community member for charges of child pornography and abuse are disturbing in the collective sense. When the person charged and sentenced to 15 years turns out to be a man you’ve dated, the blow is sharp and personal. The questions and shock, the shame, reverberate at length. Infused with empathy, insight, and humor, THEN THERE WAS LARRY is an exploration of how well do we really know anyone? How can we trust that people are who they seem? As this quirky yet disturbing chronicle of a woman unraveling the layers of frayed friendships and a scandal from the past is revealed, the previously dismissed red flags reveal darker secrets.


Excerpt:


My on-again, off-again, close friend Jane unexpectedly called as I was boxing up Christmas ornaments. In her perky, best-pals voice, she said, “I’ve missed you. We need to catch up. How are you doing?”


“I’m fine,” I said. “Diving, writing, playing softball, working, and taking care of the kids. The usual. I’m a little surprised to hear from you.”


“Why is that?”


“Well, I kept calling and texting you last summer about the camping trip you invited the boys and me on. You never replied. We even drove to the campsite and couldn’t find you.”


“Oh, darn. I was having trouble with the kids. You know, it just wasn’t a good time.”


“So, you didn’t end up going.”


“Oh, we went. We must have just missed each other. I’m so sorry.”


“O-kay,” I said sarcastically. I waited to see if my passive-aggressive sarcasm would elicit further apology or explanation, but nothing followed. “So sorry” was the best she could offer.


“Anyway, how are you?” I asked. I figured she was having boyfriend issues and the conversation would quickly pivot to her woes. I was the reliable shoulder to cry on. She was so predictable, and yet, I found her drama pretty entertaining.


“I’m having a New Year’s Day party,” she said. “You’ve got to come so I can introduce you to my good friend Larry. I’ve known him forever. He just broke up with his girlfriend. And, like you, he doesn’t drink anymore.”


He doesn’t drink anymore—a rather flimsy endorsement. Years later, I realized a reasonably curious and cautious single woman might have asked more questions.


Questions I Should Have Asked, #1: Why did they break up?


Questions I Should Have Asked, #2: What caused him to hit bottom and stop drinking? Did she know how often, if ever, he fell off the wagon and what did that look like?


“I’m working tomorrow,” I said. “But let’s get together next week.”


“You’re working? Since when? Where?”


“Barnes & Noble. It’s just a seasonal job. I figured with my new memoir coming out, it couldn’t hurt to make some contacts in the store. Also, they offer a generous employee discount during the holidays.”


I tried to sound upbeat about the minimum wage job and the fact that I wasn’t really getting the most out of my MBA, but I was ready to turn in my nametag. The holiday rush had been fun, yet exhausting. So, while Jane and her friends were drinking wine, or in Larry’s case, club soda, I’d be standing at the register for eight hours trying to sell twenty-five-dollar memberships to hungover bargain shoppers and reciting the store’s return policy for those wanting to return their duplicate copies of “Eat, Pray, Love” for post-holiday cash.


“Stop by before work. Larry offered to arrive early to help set up.”


Hum. A guy who volunteered to show up early. And help out! After a grueling Christmas Eve shift earlier that week, I’d paid Zack seventy-five dollars for a thirty-minute foot massage, which he couldn’t get five dollars on the open market for his lack of enthusiasm and effort.


“Okay. But don’t tell Larry that you’re trying to set us up. Let’s just see if there’s any chemistry.”


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub)


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08WHDRF7J


https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08WHDRF7J


https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08WHDRF7J


https://marieestorge.com/books-by-marie-estorge/


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57044814-then-there-was-larry


https://www.bookbub.com/profile/979033335



Giveaway:


I’m one of the authors participating in the Are Ye Feeling a Wee Bit Lucky Giveaway and you can win a print copy of Then There Was Larry by Marie Estorge (US only).


https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db7750100


Runs March 1 - 31 and is open internationally for most prizes.


Winners will be drawn on April 1, 2021.



Author Biography:


Marie Estorge is the author of In the Middle of Otherwise, Storkbites: A Memoir, and Confessions of a Bi-Polar Mardi Gras Queen. Her essays have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Contra Costa Times, and Diablo.


Social Media Links:


https://twitter.com/MEstorge

https://marieestorge.com/

https://storkbitesmemoir.com/

https://www.facebook.com/marie.estorge

https://www.instagram.com/marieestorge/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/79299385@N04/