When I stumble upon an interesting name on Mary Demuth’s Recipe a Day Blog, I click on the link. I find another author around my age, beautiful, a graduate of an IVY League-ish University, travels the world speaking to corporations, is some kind of mathematical computer whiz, likes role playing games, and has published three novels.
She has also won beauty contests, plays the piano and studied economics at Oxford. Wow.
I immediately want to know about her personal life. Don’t judge. This was not a SEE you CAN’T have it all search. It was an I want to know how you can be that successful and still please your husband enough that he’ll want to stay married to you search, because my husband almost tossed our marriage out the window during the writing of my first novel (he’s a bit high maintenance) that didn’t even get published. I was looking for inspiration.
Some call me nosy, but I call me teachable. I’ve always been this way. At seventeen I sat between my friend’s great grandparents and listened to how they met, married and stayed married for fifty years. After sitting at the kitchen table between my mom and aunt so many years, making mental notes while listening to the tales of their horrible first marriages, I was astounded at the possibility.
So, that’s where I found myself again. Astounded. How did she do it? How could she balance her home life and all this success? I found some interviews about her writing process and upcoming novels, but still none that mentioned her marriage. Eventually, I image-googled her and noticed no pictures of her husband.
Where was he?
Maybe he’s dead, which would make me feel horrible for searching to begin with. Maybe they are FBI and her job is a front and he’s incognito. Maybe he is rich and forced a non-disclosure clause in the divorce. Maybe she doesn’t want to make him famous, like the Eat Love Pray, author’s husband.
Maybe I overlooked the passage where she said she went through a divorce during the publishing of her first book. When I finally found it, I was sad. There was no more information than that and that made me wonder.
I was supposed to be writing when I started this search, but I convinced myself that as long as I was anywhere near the topic of writing on the Internet I was close enough. I was reading a recipe blog written Mary Demuth, who just released a new memoir, Thin Places. She suffered sexual abuse as a child and has been open about how as an adult, she told her story to gain empathy. Now, after growing and learning, she tells her story to help others and to give testimony that God heals.
But, it made me wonder about choices writers make, because I am struggling with how much to divulge in my own writing, about my marriage and childhood. Why do some writers choose to reveal very painful experiences and some choose to keep them private? I want to approach certain topics with the right motive, but I wobble on the fence of my weird psyche.
On one hand, I say, “Don’t do it. People will judge you. Are you gonna give them the stones to throw?” or “Everything is ammunition, ya know?” or “Why not get a scarlett letter tattoo of the initial of a couple of your major deadly sins and be done with it? Lets see, G, L, S, . . . Is there room for all seven? It worked so well for Hester.”
On the other hand I say, “Tell everything! It will explain why you’re crazy.” Or “He did it first? Well, then . . .” Or “If they do judge, at least they’ll do it with the right information.”
But lately, mostly, I think I’ve been carrying these stones around too long anyway and they’ve been weighing me down for woeful long. Jesus already knows everything I’ve done. Everything you’ve done, too. No excuses.
So maybe it’s time for me to lay the stones down. Let you decide if you’ll pick one up. See how it feels. Familiar? Well, it’s your throw.
“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8-11, The Holy Bible.
"O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this."
- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing