Memoir Check

“God, keep me in reality!”

My former Twelve-step sponsor used to pray these words every day. She knew her mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being depended upon staying “denial-free.” Also married to a recovering sex addict at the time, I embraced her wisdom and chanted the same mantra in hopes I, too, would retain my fraying sanity.


Of course, self-preservation secretly served as another motivating force. I sought to spare myself from unforeseen, humiliating reality checks. You know the kind, you sputter some ridiculously amateurish wisdom and see surrounding people raise their eyebrows while thinking, “loser!”


Yes, I learned a few things during those recovery years. For example, regular, calculated efforts to shake myself free from imagined worlds I created to ease my pain was definitely expedient. 

Fast-forward sixteen years and Mary’s “God keep me in reality” prayer steers me away from an amateur publishing blunder. Tumultuous publishing questions finally ended with insightful wisdom gleaned from experts in the industry.

My recent research reveals that writing a memoir/self-help book for others trying to overcome similar struggles I faced would not be wise. Yesterday, I found two online articles that helped me sort out the issue as to what kind of book I should write. Here is an excerpt from Jane Friedman’s wise counsel:

“Do not attempt to write a self-help book that’s a thinly disguised memoir. (And do not attempt a hybrid of the genres.)”

Jane Friedman's Post

Being a big fan of masquerade masks, the photo (smaku) and article title induced a seizure-like response. The article seemed written just for me. “JoDee, here is your answer,” screamed from the page.

Other experts in the publishing field warn against such a project as well. I found the following article on The Big Bad Book Blog, “Self-help and Memoir: Do’s and Don’ts to Save Your Book,”


So once again, reality rescues me from another Don Quixote quest. 

As I drifted off to sleep last night snuggled in a warm blanket of truth, this scripture floated through my mind:

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” Isaiah 26:3

When I finally surrender, He faithfully reveals reality.

 Monumento a Cervantes (Madrid) 10.jpg

10 Replies to “Memoir Check”

    1. I realized I don’t have the credentials to write a self-help book about overcoming co-addiction but can write my story in memoir form. I feel more comfortable with this since I’m not a therapist and the manuscript is already in memoir form.

      I will include an appendix of resources and link resources to my blog that addresses recovery issues Unless I can partner with someone how has the credentials, which would be a real miracle.


  1. I love seeing those masks you post, they’re so beautiful. As for a self-help book, that’s an excellent point. I’ve considered writing two, but I haven’t gotten around to it (too much else in the pipes). I still think I will write them, though, because there’s lack of such books here in Iceland. It won’t be from my point of view – more like experience stories from other people (and maybe one from me) who will be nameless. I haven’t decided exactly how to do it, but I think it’s necessary I write them.

    I’ll make sure, though, to keep my memoir out of them ^.^


    1. You make a good point. I just cannot reconcile the insistance that experts make about having the credentials. Perhaps I can muster some co-writers who do. I didn’t know you live in Iceland. Now that sounds interesting and the topic of a book.


  2. I think in a lot of circumstances, one can get as much out of a memoir as they can a self-help book. It might be a different kind of “help” but just as valuable.


    1. Thank you for this insight, Janet. I’d love to hear more from you about why you think this is so. Is it in the showing not telling that a different sort of inspiration touches the reader?


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