6. I'd like to do something to help others, like maybe writing a book. What advice do you have?

First go back and read the answer again to Question No. 5. I get inquiries from authors, or "wanna-be" authors, about writing books almost every month. There are many, many survivors who aspire to do this and it’s fine and noble to consider it. You need to consider it with a good therapist in tow, however. One who understands just what you’d be up against and the long haul ahead if you choose this route.

If you want to write a book, there are many, many things to learn, skills to develop, and questions to consider, starting with the fact that finding a traditional publisher to even look at a manuscript for a first-person survivor story is practically impossible these days. Self-publishing or e-publishing isn't easy either, though it requires very little investment compared to decades ago. If you have realistic expectations and are committed to working harder at marketing than you even did at writing, then I'd recommend you consider writing your story. Otherwise, don't waste your time.

Traditional publishers know a lot more than we give them credit for, starting with the fact that survivor stories do not sell nearly as well as most people would think. Why? Because of the very reasons that your story isn't likely to be well received by the general public ("It's a 'church matter' " --that's the reasoning of the secular community if the story is about abuse in the faith community. For that reason, few public libraries are interested in shelving it. And it's certainly not likely to be well received in most of the faith community, though you may dream that it would be as you pour your life into sorting out the emotions that come by re-living the story in order to write it well.

So what about the survivor community, you are probably asking? It's so large! Surely thousands will want your story the day it comes out! Truth is that only survivors who have come to a considerable amount of personal resolution, so that they are starting to really search for answers, are going to have the emotional energy to read first-person stories or other books pertaining to abuse. These books aren't nearly the big sellers that most people would believe for the very reasons that people tend to run from the subject so much, even after all of the exposure.

Still, it's worth pursuing. So check out amazon.com or Evinger’s bibliography to see what's been written that's similar to what you are thinking of writing. If you still feel that you have a unique story or idea that will be worth all of the time and energy it takes to write it, start by setting up a personal website or posting something on line, on another site that takes submissions. Or try starting with an article in a magazine first. Find out how to get that much easier job done by going to magazines like Writers' Digest or get a copy of the book Writers' Market, published annually, at your local library.

Good luck as you find new ways of being a forerunner by presenting new ideas. For that's exactly where the market is in writing. You'll need a unique approach and something different than anyone else to say. If you have a story like that, go for it. Just remember that it's likely to be a harder undertaking than you could ever have imagined. On the other hand, it could be one of the best decisions you've ever made.



www.takecourage.org by Dee Ann Miller, author of two books on the topic of sexual abuse by clergy: How Little We Knew: Collusion and Confusion with Sexual Misconduct and The Truth about Malarkey.