It’s feature Friday! Today I am delighted to introduce Boyd Lemon, world traveler and writer extraordinaire. Boyd shares his writing at his blog, Boyd Lemon, Writer. Also, check out his Boomers and Seniors Travel Blog. His memoir, Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages, is scheduled to be published this Spring. He currently lives in Paris, France.
And now, on to the interview!
What inspired you to become a writer?
I wrote all my life as a lawyer on legal subjects, even a book that was published. I wrote that book in 2005, and I enjoyed the process of writing a long piece in which I was teaching, instead of the arguing that comprises legal briefs. I decided to try something creative and wrote a short story based on my experiences at the age of 63 taking care of an infant. I showed it to a young friend of mine, a gifted songwriter, and she critiqued it and encouraged me to write more short stories. Her willingness to spend the time and energy to critique my stories (I went on to write about 15 more) inspired me to keep going. She then encouraged me to write a memoir about my three marriages and divorces, saying “there’s gold there.” In effect, I had a mentor more than 40 years younger than I. Writing the memoir was very painful, but I could see that in the end, if I could understand something about my role in the destruction of those marriages, it would be healing, so I became not only inspired to write it, but obsessed. I also believed that it might be of benefit to others who had been divorced or were having marital problems.
What can you tell us about your soon to be published memoir?
It takes you with me on my move from a lifetime in California to Boston to live platonically with a 24-year-old female college student, the young woman who inspired me. I began the agonizing process of uncovering my role in the destruction of my marriages through introspection and writing. The back cover states: “With brutal honesty, courage and insight he uncovers and exposes his conduct and attitudes about women and marriage that had been profoundly influenced by his place on the cusp between the moralistic generation of the 1940’s and the next generation that embraced sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll and greater independence and equality for women. Deeply troubled by his career choice as a corporate lawyer, he, nevertheless, unwittingly used it for years to avoid his marital issues.”
Tell us about the experience of writing your memoir.
Emotionally and physically, it was the most difficult, yet the most rewarding experience of my life. To relive three failed marriages and begin to understand that my attitudes and actions (along, of course, with my wives’ attitudes and actions) caused those marriages to fail and did untold emotional damage to four innocent children was devastatingly painful. I had to seek psychotherapy to help me through it and to live with the guilt. I had periods of depression, times when I sobbed uncontrollably and cried more for those months than during all the rest of my life. But as I wrote I also began to understand why I had those attitudes and why I related to my wives the way I did (I don’t want to give away too much of the book), and with the help of some psychotherapy, but mostly the writing process, I finally understood enough to heal emotionally to the point where I felt an inner peace like I have never felt before. I reached a kind of closure about those marriages that hadn’t come during the 12 years since my last divorce. As for the guilt, much of it was dissipated when I understood the reasons for my conduct, and the rest–I just feel it, like any other emotion. I think some guilt is a part of the human condition of being imperfect.
How would you describe your creative process?
I write every day, usually in the morning, from an hour to four hours, but usually two or three. If I am in an especially tense period of rewriting, occasionally, I write as long as six or eight hours. Then I am spent. If I get stuck with whatever I am writing, I switch to writing something else, sometimes something as simple as going to a coffee shop and describing in detail what I see, hear and smell. I rarely write at night.
On your travels, what has been your most memorable experience?
My most memorable travel experience was in November 2009 when I had the amazing privilege of watching the annual migration of two million wild animals from one end of the Serengeti to the other, and while in the Serengeti, see lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, monkeys, chimpanzees and countless other wild animals. It was a truly awesome (in the old sense of the word) experience. It even beats living in Paris for eight months.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
My advice is four-fold: Write and keep writing, every day, if possible; read a lot of good writing, especially, but not exclusively, in your genre; go to writing workshops where you can learn from experienced writers; get in or form a writing group that meets regularly, and get to know and write with other writers.
As a lawyer, I have published numerous pieces on legal topics, including a book entitled “Evaluating a Malpractice Case Against a Lawyer.” Since I retired from the practice of law, I have published two short stories, and two more will be published in 2011. I have also published several essays and stories in on line publications.
Currently, I have completed a memoir about my journey to understand my role in the destruction of my three failed marriages, titled, “Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages. It will be published in the Spring, 2011.
Check out my travel blog for boomers and seniors, http://www.boomertravelblog.com
A big thanks to Boyd for sharing his time and thoughts with us. Be sure to check out his blog and say Hi while you’re there!