Today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing my daughter, Tammy Sue Willey, about her memoir Wounded Song. Considering where we were a few years ago in our relationship and where we are now, it's nothing short of a miracle that we're now sitting together, able to talk on a deep and honest level about her book. Disclaimer: I love Tammy dearly so I do this interview with just a tad bit of bias!
Hi, Tammy. Let's hear a little about your current life.
I've lived in Manchester, Connecticut for the past 25-years. I’m happily married to a wonderful man, Curtis Willey, who not only is a great husband, but is a seasoned singer-songwriter who brought music back into my life.
(I love him, too.) How about a brief synopsis of Wounded Song?
I was a child born in the 1960s who grew up in a tense household that grew physically abusive over time therefore straining personal growth and family relationships. The 1960s were on the heels of an era where you weren’t supposed to embarrass or bring shame to your family and you certainly weren’t supposed to air the family’s “dirty laundry.” Wounded Song is my personal journey of a little girl who begins to sense fear and shut down before she has the words to describe why she’s feeling uneasy. It’s about a teenager who questions if she is really being abused. It’s about a young adult who makes poor choices because of negative messages she received growing up. It’s about a woman who is determined to make sense of her past and determined to put it behind her so that she is not forever stuck in her wound. It’s about a woman who perseveres with God for a better outcome to get away from the messy hand she was dealt. It’s a journey that finds a way to forgive again and again and as many times as it takes so that the enemy doesn’t win. It’s about restoration. I decided to embrace hope because Hope will have its way, if I let it.
What prompted you to write this book?
A long, long time ago, some friends said I should write my story. I hesitated because first of all, I’m not good with proper English. Second, abuse isn’t original, so I thought who would care. Third, I had no interest in writing a book as I wouldn’t know where to begin and I didn't feel I was qualified.
Long story short, I had a conversation with myself and asked what might my story look like if I wrote a book? I know the poignant memories, but when I thought about how I would share my story, I always got stuck in my head. Finally I decided to review my journal and miscellaneous notes from over the years and I started typing out my timeline. Unlike trying to sort it out in my head, I found that as soon as I started typing, creativity flowed through me in an unblocked manner. It felt like Divine intervention. I was encouraged by the burst of energy I had so I kept going until I actually wrote a book.How long did it take you to write it?
I began taking my story from my head to computer and started typing in February 2009. I was making such exciting progress that I set a goal for myself to be done by the summer of 2012. However, 2012 had a series of unexpected life interruptions which intercepted my plan. Some of those events added a new dimension to my book which meant I wasn’t yet done. In addition, my husband and I were affected by the economy, suffering three layoffs between us. So…I started typing in February 2009 and I hit the publish button in July of 2017. I had a book launch for August 18, 2017 where we celebrated victory over abuse!Do you have a favorite line from the book?
It’s hard to say what is my favorite because I have found that I actually like a few lines. Because of the topic of abuse, if it’s okay, I would like to share two of them.
“We may be stuck with our wounds, but we don’t have to be stuck in them.”
“And we don’t discover the root unless we are willing to get our hands dirty and dig.”How can my readers get a copy?
I’m proud to say I self-published through Createspace! If your readers don’t have an account or prime shipping with Amazon, they can buy directly from the Createspace eStore. Here is the link: https://www.createspace.com/7309877
For those that prefer Amazon, go to amazon.com and put in the title of my book, Wounded Song, by Tammy Sue Willey.
What do you do, Tammy, besides write?
I'm a special education secretary in the public schools. I also enjoy hiking and taking walks with my husband. I like to sit on our patio with the string of summer lights on and watch our backyard birds. And somewhere in the mix, there is always dark chocolate!Do you have advice for would-be writers?
To believe that their story is unique and important! I believe that we were all designed for a purpose and while our story may not be an original topic, it is original in how we will tell it because everyone’s voice is different. Our story will be filtered through our individual experiences. It may take a long time, but don’t get discouraged and don’t give up! It takes as long as it takes until you’re satisfied it’s good enough. And at some point, let it be good enough because it will never be perfect and your story needs to be told.
Also, the other thing is to listen to your own heart so that your story is authentic and in your voice. Nobody else can tell your story but you.What do you wish you knew when you started your book?
Grammar! Sentence structure! Where to put a stupid apostrophe! But seriously, I didn’t know those things and I still wrote a book! So don’t be discouraged. Learn along the way. But I would say, hide the red pens from your husband and stock up on dark chocolate!!!!
I honestly don’t know how to answer this. I think if I knew how long it would take and how painful the editing and rewrite process would be, and that I would get laid off during it, that my laptop would die midway through my book draft (thank God I had backed up), and that my cat would get kidnapped, and the many other life things that happened, I don’t think I would’ve started. I guess it’s why people give birth to a baby and not a 9-year old. I also decided God and my editor were out to get me. However, I had gone to my first writers conference in 2013 (four-years after starting my book), where I heard good advice. One of the authors said to be prepared to be alone a lot. That writing is solitary and you have to say “no” to a lot of things, events, the beach, the party, etc. I did that more and more. I found that advice to be helpful because at times I thought I was going insane by spending too much time alone and at other times I thought I was stupid for writing this book. But then I’d remember her words about it being solitary, so I realized I was right where I needed to be.What’s next for you?
I started blogging in 2014 to see if my voice, my way of telling stories, would resonate with anyone. Because I received so much positive feedback, it encouraged me to keep blogging and keep going with my book. Now that my book is finished, I’d like to get back to blogging. Also, I’m considering starting a support group. I might even use my book and follow the questions that I put in the back of the book to help readers think about their own journey.Tammy, I know that writing this book was difficult, having to dredge up the past, but the fact that you and I are close today and that many other people have been affected by your story, is proof that it was all worth it.
Thank you, Mom for cheering me on through my book project and for your amazing support and courage throughout my journey!
Thought for the day: ...not till the wound heals and the scar disappears, do we begin to discover where we are. Thoreau