My father told me life wasn’t meant to be easy, but I don’t think he anticipated it would turn out as heart breaking as it did. Before one miserable night in 2014 there were two actions I’d never contemplated doing in my life, write a book or jumping off a 20-story balcony. However, this night I found myself so afraid and despondent that I leaned against my balcony railing and wished that I could take away all the pain I was feeling with one action. So, I sat at my computer and started writing a suicide note. As I typed, I started to weigh up my life. With it resting perilously on the edge, I had the strength to be open, honest and unrepentant.
Open, honest and unrepentant, everything a good memoir should be. Today I’ve been joined by Simon Williams the man behind the memoir to chat about his journey through life and the events in his life that made it into his memoir. Simon, thanks for joining me today. The book we’re chatting about is your personal memoir, so it obviously originates with your birth, but what events after put the seeds of writing a memoir into one of the recesses in your mind?
The situation I was in that made me write the book started 20 years before, when I moved to the USA to live. Everything that happened in the next 20 years was like the flippers on a pinball machine propelling me towards the ultimate scenario of me needing to fight for my life. If any single moment had been different then I most likely would never have found myself staring over my balcony railing, even the most enjoyable highlights. So does someone then regret those moments or does one still celebrate them?
I’m not sure celebrate is the correct word, but I feel that acknowledgement of the events from your past would certainly have to happen to be conscious of how you go to the railing. Is this how you felt the life experiences formed this book?
Yes, everything in the book is life experience. I was drawing on to make sense of how to deal with the worst moment of my life.
And on this discovery journey to make sense of your life, what did you find?
We can all suffer depression. Rich, famous, poor, meek. I always considered myself an ordinary guy. The dreams for my life were simple and not overly extravagant. However even with modest wishes the ability to be weighed under by depressing circumstances still drove me close to the edge. What I did about it though was unique.
Was this unique action the most rewarding aspect for you, or did you discover something within your reflections that stood out for you a more rewarding?
Hahahaha honestly. The most rewarding thing was it stopped me jumping off my balcony.
I do have to agree that is a pretty big reward. What was the your greatest learning from the creation of this book?
It takes so much dedication to write. The old adage, ‘writing is rewriting,’ is certainly true.
It certainly is. Have you enjoyed the dedication towards writing enough to start working on a new writing project? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
I have a project to accumulate travel stories that I wrote as emails to my friends years ago, for two books. And a book entitled, ’12 things I want to teach my son.’
Another three books in the pipeline – you’ve clearly taken the dedicating to tackling writing to heart. What keeps you coming back to write more?
Because it is difficult, because it takes me out of my comfort zone and that is where I am happiest. It allows me to be open, and express myself and my thoughts honestly without needing to filter anything. It is something that many people talk about doing by few every do, and it is cheaper than going to a therapist.
*Laughs* You’re probably right that it’s cheaper than a therapist. And it might even be more effective! Speaking of effectiveness, do you have any techniques that you use to keep you in the effective writing zone and moving past writer’s block?
I stand up, go to the fridge and get myself a beer and say, ‘I’ll give this another shot tomorrow.’
And when you give your work another shot does that include the editing process? Do you edit your own work?
Yes. I love rewriting more than writing.
*Laughs* And as you said earlier so much of writing is rewriting and loving rewriting surely will help. As someone who has successfully self-published are there any helpful tips that you can share with other authors looking to advance within their own writing careers?
Beg your friends to read and give you reviews. I wasted years chasing after bloggers whose reviews have never appeared on Goodreads or Amazon. Then pay for some book promotion websites and keep trying and trying and trying. If something works keep at it, if something doesn’t, toss it and move on.
Do you feel that your willingness to keep at the goal at hand has also been reflected in your day job?
I am a physical therapist in a hospital. All day long my job is to encourage people to get out of bed as that is the single worst health activity someone can do to themselves, stay in bed. The very fact I have to go and plead with people to get out of bed for their own health is screwed up. All I hear everyday is, ‘I can’t.’ Everyday I get home exhausted and think, ‘I can’t write today.’ Then I remember that those two words are the most pathetic words in the English language and so I happily sit and write.
That tenacity to keep going does keep popping up across your life. Do you ever think of any other kind of career that you would have liked to apply that tenacity to?
A lawyer. As I have had no trouble in my life standing up to many of them who have tried to rip me off or take me on and had them give up or turn tail. If someone wants to get in an argument with me then they had better be prepared to dedicate the rest of their life to it, as if I am going to bother to argue then I am willing to take it to the very end.
Do you think that this willingness to take it something to the end is a philosophy that you live your life by, or is there another way of thinking that you feel guides you more?
Everything my Dad taught me. If something looks to good to be true, it probably is. Something worth doing is worth doing right. Mean what you say, and say what you mean. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.
I’d like to test this belief of meaning what you say, and saying what you mean through a little randomness in our quick fire question round. Let’s start with: Who decides what morality is?
Whoever is holding the loaded gun.
Yep, that will work. What is your zodiac sign?
What is your favourite ocean?
Hmm, they all but if I had to choose just one I would say The Sea of Tranquillity.
Nice pick there! What came first, the chicken or the egg?
The farmer, who slaved night and day to build the chicken coop and who was then bought out by the large multinational cooperation that modernized and upgraded all the facilitates into a faceless, chicken producing factory with workers paid minimum wage.
*Laughs* Now there’s a perspective I hadn’t considered. What is your favourite word?
The f word
Have you tangoed in the snow?
Depends. With or without clothes on?
I would imagine that without clothes on would see frostbite set in quite quickly, so with clothes on. What is your best tip for authors?
Before we get to that final question, is there a question that you haven’t been asked that you’d like to be, or anything that didn’t come up?
- Who is my favorite member of The Beatles? A. Mick Jagger.
Ahh, Mick Jagger, the forgotten Beatle. Simon, to end our chat today can you leave us with a final statement from your book that you feel shows a little more insight to your documented life.
It is not like someone commits suicide by taking a month of swimming lessons, then flies to take a dip in the infested waters of South Africa after watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.
*Laughs* Nope, Shark Week doesn’t fuel those ideas at all! Simon, thanks for sharing your life after the railing with us today and I wish you the best of luck sharing the insights within the pages of your memoir with new readers.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘TORN: The Story of an Undeserving Wallaby Drowning in a Septic Tank ( ASIN: B00VC2Z6U4 )‘.
Want to find out more about Simon Williams? Connect here!