Monday, September 19, 2011

Tolson 4 TEARS Interview by MOCASA

This is an archived interview with author Lynn C. Tolson completed for the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault newsletter. MOCSA "exists to lessen the ill effects of sexual assault and abuse through prevention, education, intervention, treatment and advocacy."

In the interview, I say "I hope to move to the Rocky Mountain region." I forgot I even said that! Here I am, writing this blog post from Colorado Springs, CO!

Tell us about yourself: 
After living my first eighteen years in the Northeast, I moved to the Southwest for another eighteen years. Then, I moved to the Midwest and left the business environment to write my story and establish myself as an artist. I also returned to college to obtain a degree in social work. I hope to move to the Rocky Mountain region. My hobbies include watercolor painting.

Tell us about the book: 
Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story begins with my suicide attempt at the age of twenty-five. In the aftermath, I committed to counseling to recover from anxiety and depression associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. During therapy, I revealed secrets regarding sexual abuse, mental illness, and domestic vilence in my family. The reader of my story is engaged in the counseling by being privy to the problems and solutions discussed during the sessions. Due to the therapeutic process, I discovered a path to love and the value of life, and I ultimately achieved a life that reflects health and happiness. Thus, the reader also experiences an inspirational journey and a message of hope.

Why did you decide to write a book? Was it difficult writing about such a personal story? 
The book began by putting pen to paper in journal writing sessions. Themes emerged regarding the ramifications of sexual abuse, like drug addiction and suicide attempts. Eventually, a story of transformation to wholeness evolved. Journal writing was a cathartic experience. However, writing the book was difficult because I had to find the courage to face my fears: What would others think? What would my family think? But my conviction to tell the truth became greater than the difficulty of writing a personal story. I realized that I was writing about personal yet universal issues. My desire to share a message of healing from trauma became too strong to ignore; the book became my mission despite the difficulty.

Did you have any experience writing beforehand? How difficult was it? 
My previous experience as a writer was limited to company correspondence and private poetry. However, I always knew I wanted to write a book. Teachers and supervisors frequently said that I "had a way with words" and told me to "write about what you know about." What I knew about were my personal experiences, and I thought, "I can't write about that!" What was difficult was changing my thought process from "I can't write about that" to "I have to write about that!" I suppose I could have fictionalized the story, but I think that may have lessened the impact. Besides, I don't have the imagination for fiction. The old adage may be right: "Truth is stranger than fiction." Writing is a long and lonely process; I was often preoccupied with thoughts and phrases for my book. What also made it difficult was that I returned to college while writing. I wanted a broader view of family and society, and the education in social work actually helped me to shape my book. Just as I was about to graduate and publish, I learned I had breast cancer. Now that was difficult!

Your book has received some good reviews. Are you surprised? 
I appreciate the reviews and how readers have connected with the content. I am pleased that readers have enjoyed the writing despite some candid scenes of abuse and addiction. I am glad that the story telling is considered "powerful" because I want the book to have an impact.
What are your hopes for the book? 
I hope that my book promotes understanding of the issues that cause individual suffering and plaque our society. Sexual assault, addiction, and suicide are unsolved social problems that carry stigmas. The stigmas cast a code of silence that do not solve problems. The result from not speaking about the crime of sexual assault is too often tragic (loss of human potential, indeed, even loss of life). Thus, there is a need for real stories of recovery. By bringing my dark secrets to light, it is my hope that others who have had similar events will know that they are not alone. Readers may explore their own emotions to open lines of communication, eliminate shame, and experience healing.

Do you think you'll write another book? If so, what will it be about? 
Yes, I am writing a book about my breast cancer experience.
Post a Comment