Thursday, August 4, 2011
Digging Deep—Interview With Boyd Lemon, Pt. 2
Boyd Lemon plumbs the depths of his memory and soul as he seeks to understand what role he may have played in the failure of not one, but three successive marriages. The insights and answers he shares with readers may be helpful to readers of any age and marital status. This post is a continuation of an interview begun on my sister site, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing. In this post Boyd responds to questions about the writing process as it relates to his ex-wives and children.
SL: As I read the aptly named Digging Deep, I'm deeply curious how you handled things with your ex-wives regarding the disclosures in your book. Did you show them what you'd written before the book was published?
BL: I told each of them that I was writing it and intended to publish it. I received a response from only my third wife, who said she was not looking forward to it. I asked them each for input on several specific things related to their perception of specific incidents. My first and third wives both responded constructively. My second wife did not respond to either me or our adult children.
I decided I would not show it to my ex-wives before publication, because I knew that would result in endless requests to make changes to comply with their perceptions of events. Their perceptions, in my view, were not relevant to my memoir. The memoir is about my perceptions. To the extent my perceptions were wrong or inaccurate, they were still my honest perceptions, and that is what is important to the book, as opposed to objective truth, assuming one could ever achieve that.
SL: The material is intensely intimate. How did you make decisions about what to disclose?
BL: That was a question on my mind throughout the writing of the book. The first decision I made was that I was going to write the relevant truth as I perceived it, without regard to my ex-wives. The word "relevant" is crucial here. The memoir was about my role in the destruction of my marriages and how I discovered it. I vowed not to disclose anything about my ex-wives that was not relevant to that theme. Unfortunately, there was a lot relevant to that theme that included intimate details of my ex-wives' conduct so that my own conduct would make sense. But if I censored myself, it wouldn't have been much of a book. I just couldn't do that. I decided if I was going to write it and publish it, I would not hold back on what I felt was relevant. I knew my ex-wives would see it differently, and I was prepared to incur their wrath. Otherwise, why write and publish the book?
SL: How did your wives react to the book after it was published?
BL: Wife No. 1 said it was an excellent book, that she enjoyed very much and she read it twice. Wife No. 2 said nothing to me, but told our children that she was very upset. That is all I know. Wife No. 3 told me that she would not read it at all, because it would upset her too much.
SL: Have your children read the book?
BL: Yes, they have.
SL: How have the disclosures you made about their mothers affected your relationship with them?
BL: They are in their 30’s and 40’s and know their mothers pretty well. There were some details that surprised them (especially the sexual details, of course), but generally they were not shocked, and as far as I can tell it has not affected my relationships with them.
SL: Do you think you would have persisted in solving the puzzle of your marriages if you hadn’t made the commitment to finish the book?
BL: No, it was too painful for me. I would have stopped if I did not have the carrot of finishing the book, which is something I always wanted to do.
SL: What difference has it made in your life to have this self-exploration finished and out there for the world to read?
BL: Finishing the memoir brought me a peace and closure regarding the failure of my marriages that I had not known before. I had been unaware of how it weighed on me. I forgave my wives for their part and myself for mine. We are, after all, each flawed human beings. I think we each did the best we could under the circumstances. Some acquaintances have criticized me for disclosing such intimate details. In effect, they have said they really didn't want to know that much about me. My feeling is that if honest disclosure causes some people to dislike me, I don't care. I am who I am, and I accept that not everyone will like me. I am not comfortable hiding things or distorting them just so people will like me. Mostly, though, people have complemented me, feeling that what I did was courageous. That makes me feel good. Courage is something I have always wanted to have and have never been sure that I had it. I am sorry that my ex-wives ( or, at least two of them) are upset about the publication of the book, but, frankly, I think it is a good book.
SL: And so do I.
Readers can order print copies from Amazon, any form of eBook from Smashwords, or go directly to Boyd’s website. To read Part 1 of this interview, click here. Thank you Boyd.