Bury Me In Montana - Authored by Joseph White - "The Sweet Grass Kid" ... from Sweet Grass Montana
Frequently Asked Questions...
Bury Me In Montana
Frequently asked questions.
Why did you decide to write the story?
The book began innocently as a family history, something to leave for my children and grandchildren. I had so many unanswered questions for and about my father that I decided to leave answers that would explain me to my children--if and when they get curious. I intended to print a few copies with my computer at home and to scan in old photos to help tell the tale.
How did it become a book?
Urging and nudging. Some inexplicable urge started me writing a series of short stories in 1994. I thought some were pretty good; I thought others were junk. I wrote in herky-jerky spurts for the next seven years. Every time I quit, something nudged me to continue. When I spoke of it to friends, they asked to read samples. Without exception, everyone who read stories encouraged me to finish and put them into book form.
How difficult was it to write the tales of abuse? How emotional?
Difficult almost beyond description. I discovered the reason for my herky-jerkiness was my inability to "get through" telling about the worst of the violence. One October 2001 evening, when something nudged me to sit at the keyboard, I resolved to make it through writing the first story of Dad nearly beating Mom to death--in 1950. I didn't just write the story; I relived every awful minute, over and over again. I cried more than I wrote. It was a tearful, exhausting twelve-hour effort. But, when I finished, I knew I had a story to tell. Better still, I knew the something nudging me along was someone. God was encouraging me through this process. Only He could have held me together through that awful night. I had run into and broken through "the wall." Fully fifty percent of the book was written in similar marathon crying sessions during the next four weeks. Now, however, not all my tears were terror-inspired; I laughed so hard sometimes I could scarcely breathe. I knew I had a book.
Did you have professional help?
YES. This book is entirely mine from beginning to end. It is my story, in my words, and even my photograph on the cover. But, YES, I had professional help. Though I felt I had a talent with words, I knew my manuscript was a mess. A chance glance through the newspaper led me to Authors of the Flathead - http://www.authorsoftheflathead.com . I attended the very next meeting and immediately sensed that I had found a home. Authors of the Flathead is composed of writers from every walk of life whose only collective objective is to help one another become better, successful writers. The membership runs the gamut from beginners to full-time professionals, screenwriters, novelists, and educators. I benefited immensely by help from the group. I could not have found a kinder, more helpful bunch, and I certainly could not afford to pay the fees they should have charged.
What benefits have you realized from the book?
The greatest benefit is that my heart was healed during the ten-year writing process. If never another soul read the book, that healing alone was worth the tremendous effort it took to record the saga. But, readers do like the book very much, and hundreds have written to tell me that they, too, have gained new understanding of events in their lives.
I am realizing entirely unexpected benefits. I speak by invitation at civic functions, churches, and student assemblies battling domestic violence and family abuse. It is a privilege to offer a story of hope, to tell abuse victims they can forgive and thereby better their personal lives. Abuse victims most often become abusers themselves. It is vitally important to tell them they can choose to stop the cycle. They need not carry on the horrible family tradition.
And--there are the new connections with old friends. I can't possibly tell all the stories about phone calls or mail from friends who have picked up the book somewhere by mere happenstance and been moved to get in touch--after decades apart. The book tells stories about special people, and I have a large file of letters from siblings, children, and grandchildren of those fabulous old friends, who express gratitude that someone like me cares enough to record "Grandpa" in my first offering to history.
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