Words can be both destructive and constructive.
In Allison Rose Clark‘s case, her words are the healing balm that led her to overcome more than one abusive relationships. And now those words soothe others in ‘I Don’t Hate Me Anymore‘.
Allison Rose Clark learnt about domestic violence the hard way. Braced with armfuls of courage, she left her last abusive relationship, sought help from a counsellor, and actively wrote in a journal, finding the process both freeing and healing.
In a leap of faith, she put her trust in her own ability to transcend the emotional scars and create a new life, starting with the launch of her first book, ‘I Don’t Hate Myself Anymore‘.
A poet since she was 10 years old, she continued to write her way to her own recovery. Her book initially birthed as a memoir, but soon morphed into a self-help book. Rose Clark knew that her experience and the tools she’d found helpful could benefit other women experiencing abuse.
She wanted women to know that change is possible by changing the way they think about themselves. Rose Clark shares with readers a series of exercises that guide them through a process to help them change their thoughts and importantly, learn to love themselves.
Q: You have clearly experienced great sadness and pain in your past relationships. I read that you saw a counsellor and wrote in a journal. What was it that motivated you to also write a book?
I received counselling, on and off, for twenty years, and I used a journal mainly to reassure myself that my memory was reliable. It can be hard for people to take that plunge and seek help from professionals, especially if they doubt their own minds. Luckily nowadays there is online counseling in NYC and in so many other states and countries for people who want to take that next step for their mental health and breaking away from a destructive person.
One day, I had an epiphany. My third marriage was in trouble with domestic violence, and I remember sitting there asking myself the same thing most people in my situation ask, why does this keep happening?
The answer immediately popped in my mind – I must hate myself on some unconscious level and think I don’t deserve anything better. I wasn’t thinking I wanted it, or looking for it, of course, because who would?
Instead of abusing myself with drugs or alcohol or however else, I was allowing people to abuse me instead, regardless of my feelings for that person. And not just in relationships, but in friendships as well. This led to other realisations which domestic violence threatens.
My first step was to put love for myself as a life-saving necessity and priority. This was all the motivation I needed to write a book to show other women it was possible to reject abuse and change your life, and that loving oneself was at the centre of it.
Q: What was the experience of writing your memoir like for you?
It was extremely difficult, but healing and eye-opening experience to write my book. Writing it required brutal honesty with myself in a way I’d never done before. I always thought I was, but this process taught me I wasn’t really. So, accepting these things was emotionally taxing. Often I was still in denial before I reached that point. Grief was also present in those moments. Then I had to forgive myself.
Q: Tell me about your writing background?
My writing background is one of pleasure and therapy, mostly through poetry. Two of my poems were separately published in anthologies of verse. The only course I’d attempted, I didn’t complete. Over the years, I’ve written a few short stories. Whether any of them were any good is up for debate.
The ones which starred on my blogs were well received. Inspiration hits me pretty much anywhere – shower, in my sleep, driving, cooking dinner. Some start out as a song in my head. For this reason, I always have a notebook somewhere so I can write thoughts down straight away.
When I wrote ‘I Don’t Hate Me Anymore, I committed to a routine of everyday writing, no matter how much time I could spare, or words I wrote, or if I felt like it or not.
Q: Did you seek the help of a writing mentor or was this a mostly solitary and personal exercise?
‘I Don’t Hate Me Anymore’ would never have been written if it weren’t for my mentor, Andrew Jobling. He is amazing at keeping in regular contact, encouraging, helping me to keep accountable with my goals, inspiring me to keep on going when I felt like giving up or doubted my abilities.
Q: How did you come to settle on the structure and content of your book?
With the guidance of Andrew, I decided on what the message I wanted my readers to get from my book, how I wanted that message to be told, and if it was going to be chapters. I chose titles for the chapters and then started writing.
In the beginning, I didn’t set out to write a self-improvement book. It was supposed to be a memoir. However, when I reached the end of the first chapter, I realised the reader could do something for themselves related to the chapter’s subject. That’s when it morphed into what it is today, an interactive book, aimed at helping women reject abuse by putting in processes in a less zig-zaggy way.
It’s deliberately short so it’s not overwhelming to read. But it’s anything but easy. I’ve also deliberately added notes pages so the book becomes more like a journal for the reader to track their progress and change. Something they can look back on and re-visit as many times as they want. It becomes part of their own life journey and healing, which is undoubtedly, a life-long process for many.
Q: Did you experience writer’s block and if so, how did you move through it?
Yes, I did. I personally believe writer’s block is the mind saying it needs time-out. So, I took a break, walked away from the computer and left it for a few hours or to the next day; left the house; went for a walk; listened to relaxing/meditative music/favourite music/radio; danced around my lounge room; visited friends; had a coffee solo somewhere; sat at the beach. I think you get the picture.
Q: How long did your memoir take to write?
Between triggers, writer’s block and doubt, it took roughly six months, overlapping 2014 and 2015, and including editing.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to write their memoir?
Think of the message you want your readers to be left with and just start writing. Everyday. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling because it can be reviewed when you edit.
A mentor or accountability partner is invaluable because they help keep you on track, remind you of your why, and encourage you when you feel like giving up (because it’ll crop up often).
I would also recommend counselling during the process, simply because writing your memoir can trigger you, and open wounds. It can also help you discover new ones, which can be quite difficult to cope with as most of the time you’re not expecting it.
Q: Who did you write this book for?
Women, predominantly. I can only write from a woman’s point of view. However, I am aware that abuse isn’t discriminative, nor is loving oneself congregated to just one group of people. That’s why ‘I Don’t Hate Me Anymore’ is dedicated to anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and hated the person looking back.
Q: What do you hope it would bring to the reader?
Freedom. A sense of worthiness and value. The realisation they are not alone. The ability to identify abuse, thus reject it. The ability to identify abuse, thus reject it. I hope they see the treasure that they are. Priceless.
Ultimately, though, I hope the reader will start to love themselves the way they deserve, so they won’t allow anything less from others, no matter who they are.
Q: Tell me about the feedback you’ve had?
All the feedback has been very positive, some saying they couldn’t put it down. People have found it encouraging and the exercises helpful. One of the readers is male who told me he believes it will help many women. He is also one of the ones who couldn’t put it down. Around 90% of feedback, to date, has come from Australian readers. Currently, ‘I Don’t Hate Me Anymore’ has a rating of 4.5 stars.
Q: How did their feedback/stories make you feel?
I was so elated, I think I reached the moon! It makes me feel proud of my work and confirms it is indeed helping people.
Q: What has changed for you since the book was released?
I’m a more confident person than I was before writing ‘I Don’t Hate Me Anymore’. I speak up when I’m not treated in line with my treatment plan. Even though I’ve been practicing my book’s contents for quite a while, writing further grounded it within me. My focus of and direction for my life has taken a turn, which ten years ago, I’d have never imagined I would be pursuing. Sometimes, people approach me with questions. I hold a Diploma in Counselling, so can help in small ways, but I also have resources I can refer them to for further assistance.
Q: How did you promote your book?
I held an official book launch, with the second one in Ipswich, Queensland. I also approached radio stations and newspapers with the leverage of International Women’s Day.
Joining the professional platform of LinkedIn was the smartest move. It’s given me hundreds of connections, and future contact opportunities. A couple of magazines, YMag and womELLE, approached me on it, and included me in one of their issues (January and May 2019, respectively). And now, you, Hawkeye Books. My publisher, Austin Macauley Publishers, have done some promoting as well – secured one of seven spots for recommended reading in a blog regarding a holistic approach to health (for women).
Q: Where is your book stocked?
Austin Macauley Publishers have listed ‘I Don’t Hate Me Anymore’ on numerous sites including Austin Macauley Publishers, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Amazon, Amazon.co.uk, Kindle, Google Books UK, Angus and Robertson, Target, Good Reads, Dymocks, Booktopia. I also list some of them on my website.
Q: What’s next for you?
Although there’s a few challenges right now, I’m looking to have my children’s books published this year. At the moment, I’m in the process of developing two workshops, one for women, and the other targeting workplace bullying, which I’m aiming to have ready for presentation within the next 3 to 6 months. These have been a work in progress for the last 18 months. I’ve also made myself available for speaking opportunities regarding abuse and the love of oneself.
After another inspiring story?
If you enjoyed reading about Alison Rose-Clark’s hero journey, you might also enjoy Vietnam…Viet-Bloody-Nam by Davide A. Cottone.
Writers will be interested to know that Hawkeye Publishing is currently open for submissions. Our most popular competitions are also open for entries: the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition closes 1st August, and the Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Development Prize closes mid December.
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