Writing Was My Light In The Darkness Of Divorce

I’ve said before that I’m very lucky that through my writing I’ve been exposed to a number of amazing women writers.  My guest today is one of those women – Lisa Thomson is a Canadian divorce blogger, Huffington Post blogger, a DivorcedMoms.com Featured Resource Writer,  and the author of The Great Escape:  A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage.  You may have seen my guest post on her site earlier this week.  Today, I asked her about what led her to write her book – and what her writing process looked like.  Here’s Lisa:

Writing Was My Light In The Darkness Of Divorce 1

Even though it’s been several years, I still think back to those early, dark divorce days. I’m referring to the initial separation and all that entailed. I failed to fully prepare for the tsunami. How could I? I had no clue the depth of the storm ahead.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@livebysurprise” hidden_hashtags=”#divorce” hidden_urls=”https://livebysurprise.com/2016/02/lisathomsonguest.html” remove_url=”true”]I had no clue the depth of the storm ahead.[/tweetthis]

One of the first things I did was search out books at the library and book stores. That was before Amazon existed—can you even imagine? There was something missing though. I realized in my search that there were no books that were written from the divorced woman’s voice. So, I coped with those early, dark divorce days by journaling. I wrote everything in a little book. My darkest fears, anger, wishes for my ex, love for my children—you name it, it went in there. I guess it would be exactly how some people blog today. But that was 2005 and blogging wasn’t really a thing. So, my journal was my savior, my light.

It was about two years into my divorce when the emotional and legal frustration began to really take a toll. That’s when I came up with the idea of writing a self help book specifically for women who were thinking of leaving their marriage. If I could ease one woman’s suffering, it would ease some of my own.

I resolved to write a book that truly did tell the real story about divorce. And so I began in the wee hours of the night, drafting up an outline of chapters. I knew exactly what to include. There would be a chapter on lawyers, co-parenting, what to do before leaving the marital home, what to expect socially after divorce and how to cope with the reactions of friends and family. In other words, I KNEW exactly what a woman would want to know because it was all the things I didn’t know but had to learn.

I wrote and wrote. I wrote while waiting for kids at pick up. I wrote at work when the store had no customers to wait on. I wrote in the middle of the night. I wrote in tears on Sunday afternoons when I missed my kids and my heart was breaking.  I included excerpts from my journal because remember—I wanted this to be an honest and true account of ending a marriage and beginning the divorce process. I wanted this book to be from my heart and to really speak to other women starting this journey.

It took me five years to complete. I stopped writing for about a year when I went through some pretty traumatic and harrowing divorce experiences. My losses and challenges left me without the gumption to finish my book.

Then something clicked. I was angry as hell. I was angry at myself, at my ex, at the system for letting me down. So, the only way to fix that was to finish my damn book.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@livebysurprise” hidden_hashtags=”#divorce” hidden_urls=”https://livebysurprise.com/2016/02/lisathomsonguest.html” remove_url=”true”]I was angry as hell. I was angry at myself, my ex, at the system for letting me down. [/tweetthis]

That’s exactly what I did.

I finalized the edits in January, 2012. I had a professional editor go through it a few times and still, I continued to make changes. I shopped around for a printer and considered many cover designs. I hired someone to format the e-book. I shopped around, unsuccessfully for a publisher. Then I said to hell with it and self published. I’m so happy that I took that step.

In the meantime, I designed a website  and was told from other authors that I MUST blog if I’m a writer worth her salt.

I didn’t know what a blog was. I figured it out pretty quickly though and realized I had a passion for that too. My blog has been going since late October 2011 (this was my first post) and I haven’t looked back.

I had a few writers recommend that I write under a pseudonym, when I was almost ready to publish. I considered it at great length and made my decision with much consideration. The result is a book that I promote myself and talk about with women openly. It’s exactly the way I wanted it. I take full credit and criticism equally for my work.

You could say my writing kept a little light shining in those dark days, illuminating the path for me.

Today, I like to think my book is the sliver of light that shines out of the darkness for folks struggling through divorce right now. It’s made my struggle worthwhile.

Last but certainly not least, if you’re thinking about writing a book about your divorce I would recommend three important tips;

  1. Make sure you always keep focus on WHY you’re writing it. It shouldn’t be simply to air your complaints, there should really be a greater purpose.
  2. Decide early in the process if you will be publishing under a pseudonym or your real name as this will determine the type of content you will share.
  3. Always hire an editor before the final printing or formatting of your book.

Do you plan or are you writing a book about your divorce? I’d love to hear from you!

A paperback copy of her book is available via this link: The Great Escape: A Girl’s Guide To Leaving A Marriage or click the Amazon link below the post to get an e-book (note: this is an affiliate link – your purchase will support this blog).  You also can find Lisa on G+TwitterPinterestFacebook or Tumblr.

Images copyright:  Lisa Thomson (used with permission)

45 Comments


  1. Avatar

    Congrats on your book! My mother went through a traumatic divorce and somehow the property’s that were owned in the marriage were never divided at the time of the divorce. My mother lived in fear of being put out on the street by her ex husband for years. Sadly she passed away last year and now I am left with the task of dealing with an abusive, elderly father. The amazing thing is this all happened before the internet and so I have 33 years of papers, court documents and all my mother’s writing on her journey through all of this. She wanted to write a book and never did, maybe this is something I can do in honour of her? Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Avatar

    Lisa is one of my favorites in the bloggy world and I’m so grateful she made that leap into published author AND blogger–at least some good came out of a terrible situation. But what I admire about her the most is her tenacity and her openness and raw sentimentality. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything which I find unbelievably refreshing in her writing.

    And I can’t even begin to imagine the legions of women (and men!) she must be helping by writing so honestly. I love that she doesn’t use a pseudonym because it makes her story all the more relatable. Thanks so much for featuring her here 🙂

  3. Avatar

    Hey Lisa,

    Wow, that was a process wasn’t it.

    As you know, I’ve been through a divorce myself many many years ago but I didn’t have children so it was pretty quick. Thank goodness for that because he was not a very nice man and had there been children involved I KNOW we would have been in for a fight. That’s exactly why I never had children with him. I learned early on I’d be that woman that went underground just so he’d never get his hands on them. Yep, he was that bad.

    I’m sure your book though is a great relief for anyone having to go through that as well. Not ever having been through something like that before we wouldn’t have a clue what to expect, what to do, who to go to, etc.

    I’m glad you wrote it and have helped so many women now.

    Thanks for sharing this process with us.

    ~Adrienne

  4. Avatar

    You did great in doing it Lisa. Good for you and good for all the women around who needed this help. It’s so important to have support when you are going through such a life change.
    I do write a lot about married life (or what I used to call “married life”, separation, manipulation, divorce and emotional pressure.
    Having a blog helped me to connect with many women who were there when I took the most important and difficult decision, leaving. I’ll never enough of a lifetime to thank them for their support.
    Keep writing Lisa. Keep inspiring us. I tell you, you are fabulous!

  5. Avatar

    Hey Lisa!

    Your story is truly an inspiration for many who are going through divorce. As I’ve never done it, but was an almost divorcee, that’s how I met up with you and your website. I find I can relate to your stories on an emotional level and admire you for putting it out there in writing.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    Bren

    1. Avatar

      Hi Brenda, thank you so much! I’m happy you didn’t go through the divorce and that you and your husband were able to work things out and power through. That said, I’m so glad you found me when you needed a shoulder. 🙂

  6. Avatar

    I love that you did finish this book. It’s like career coaches always say – find the gap in the world. Find what YOU need, or what have needed. And then make it happen for others.

    1. Avatar

      Exactly, true Tamara. That’s what started the whole thing 🙂 It took some tenacity to take it to the finish line though, I won’t lie. Thanks for stopping over!

  7. Avatar

    Good for you for being brave and sharing your story to help others! It took my mom 10 years to leave my dad…she always tells my sister and I that you can never change someone and don’t expect to. My poor mom went through 2 divorces because of addictions. My dad, who she was married to for 10 years [2nd marriage] is almost 50 and still does not think he has a drinking problem… she spent years considering leaving him but always thought she could help him, save him. She kept him alive for years and hid his secrets for him and then finally decided enough was enough and she is so much happier now and has not looked back once. I am really really proud of her. I am glad you found peace in your writing and a way to help others 🙂

    1. Live by Surprise
      Author

      Your email has brought me tears. Bless your mom for being that brave. It’s a hard realization – but she’s right – people can’t change who they are. Thank you.

    2. Avatar

      Hi Shannon, that must have been devastating for your mother and you. Addictions thrive on secrecy. I’m so happy to hear your mother found happiness and took that difficult step. Her advice is hard won. Thank you, Shannon for sharing and your supportive comment. I often hear from women that when they finally leave, they wish they had done it sooner. But we must look forward with little regrets (if any)! 🙂

  8. Avatar

    First, this is amazing and I thank you. Back when I got a divorce, the blog world didn’t really exist and I’m so glad it does now. You’ll help so many people. Second I wish somebody had given me the reminder that we’re so public…I may have been anonymous.

    1. Avatar

      Hi Kristi, remaining anonymous is a wise decision for many depending on their situation. I know exactly what you mean about wishing there were blogs. There were none when I went through mine as well. It’s sure a world of support and resources having blogs to help.Thanks for sharing your point of view. I really appreciate it!

    2. Live by Surprise
      Author

      Anonymous has its pluses and minuses. Everyone has their own way of being authentic – and truly I’m not sure which way allows more freedom. I *love* your blog the way it is though.

  9. Avatar

    Blogging is SO therapeutic… I had an insane international adoption experience and parenting my traumatized son would have been impossible without the support I found from people going through similar issues.

  10. Avatar

    Insightful and uplifting post. It’s amazing how therapeutic writing can be, as it forces you to sit alone with (and face) your thoughts, which can be hard for a lot of people. I’m sure your book – although a struggle at times – was very helpful to many women in similar situations. 🙂

    1. Avatar

      Hi Brianne, absolutely putting our words down helps us sort out many difficulties. When a woman contacts me after reading the book and thanks me for it? That’s when I sigh in pride because my mission has been accomplished. Thanks, Brianne!

  11. Avatar

    Lisa, it sounds like it was a really healing experience for you to write about your divorce, and I’m glad that the process got you into blogging, and that I was able to meet you in this World Between the Wires. I think it’s a fabulous idea to write candidly about the things which make life difficult, because it shines the light of understanding and (hopefully) circumvents some of the need to reinvent the wheel each time someone goes through the experience for the first time. Bravo 🙂

    1. Avatar

      Thank you so much, Lizzi. Isn’t that the truth? Writing about the hard stuff can really shed light for others. I’m so glad I’ve met you and I admire your writing sooooo much!!

      1. Avatar

        I think it allows us to connect, to understand we’re not alone, and to learn from another person’s wisdom. I know I would have been lost without those, in abundance, from people in the Blogosphere 🙂

        And thanks *blushes*

        1. Live by Surprise
          Author

          I think your positive attitude would have helped you through Lizzi – but I’m glad to have been there to help – as you would do the same for me.

          1. Avatar

            I would. I absolutely would.

            My positive attitude has very shallow roots, I find :/

          2. Live by Surprise
            Author

            You’re lucky then to have it tended and cared for by so many. they’re getting deeper every day.

          3. Avatar

            I’m very very lucky indeed. And yes, those roots are growing. Thank goodness 😀 I have a feeling I’ll need the attitude to be nice and robust soon enough!

  12. Avatar

    Great post. Writing is such a nice way to work through all kinds of difficulties. Such a great outlet.

  13. Avatar

    Awesome, awesome, awesome, Lisa!!! So happy you had the courage to write your book and the tenacity to see it through. You are inspiring!! 🙂 Hugs and love to you!!!

  14. Avatar

    Thank you so much Liv, for hosting me today! I’ve never sat down and wrote about my book writing process so this was really therapeutic to write. Thanks for putting in the click to tweets! You’re awesome!!

    1. Live by Surprise
      Author

      Your story is inspiring – I’m glad to be able to bring it to my readers. I’m a huge fan. 😉

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