Write What You Know

The book gave me a chance to share something very personal. It scared me but it is an extreme version of the “write what you know.” - Renee Jean

Most authors have heard the old adage “write what you know”. All of my books involve an element of that because I naturally tend to put a piece of myself and my experiences in everything I create. There is one book in my catalog that expresses these things more than any other.

October is well known as Breast Cancer awareness month. The world turns pink until Halloween. People run, bike ride, and hold many other fundraisers all month long. For years I took part in events to help raise money and awareness for those fighting cancer. I had no idea it was also the awareness month for another cause near and dear to my heart. October is also a purple month for Domestic Violence awareness. When I learned that, it broke my heart.

I am thrilled to know there is a month to let the world know of this tragic epidemic. I was sad to find out it is such a taboo topic and that even as a survivor I was unaware. I wanted to do something to reach out to others like me, to tell other survivors and victims that they are not alone. My solution was to do what comes naturally to me and write.

In 2015, I partnered with a handful of other authors, including another survivor, to write an anthology on the topic of domestic abuse. The idea was to raise funds and donate them back to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The other survivor wanted to do something more and we chatted about what else could be done in conjunction with the launch of our anthology. She decided to write a story based on her experience and urged me to do the same. I agreed almost immediately. However, I faltered. It is hard enough to share a completely fictional story with the world, but to create something based on one of the most painful parts of my life seemed impossible.

I planned to back out, but something told me facing my demons would help others and in the end that was more important. I sat for days staring at my computer before finally beginning to tell my story. Survivor was a journey. Not only did it capture the worst thing I ever experienced and put it in black and white for the world to see and judge, but it made me relive every single moment of the abuse.

I suffered terrible nightmares and flashbacks while writing and couldn’t edit the story myself. It went to my editor as a completely raw first draft. Because of the subject, no one questioned that decision. The emotional toll the book took on me has been immeasurable. However, the amount of healing it has produced has been unparalleled. I began speaking about my experience. I’ve met people all across the country who have told me I was brave to share my story and that they related to the character. They felt her journey and recognized themselves in her.

I wanted to do a personal launch for Survivor along with my fellow authors for the anthology and my friend’s personal book. We agreed to do an online launch during Domestic Violence awareness month in October, but I also held a live launch party where I live in Las Vegas. While I am not one to advertise for anyone, I believe my employer for my day job deserves recognition for their support of that event. I work for The Venetian Resort on The Las Vegas Strip and my incredible bosses donated a ballroom, raffle prizes, and promotions to support me. They even turned their iconic signs purple instead of pink in honor of the event.

We raised above our fundraising goal to help a local shelter and I was given something I never knew I needed – understanding. The book gave me a chance to share something very personal. It scared me but it is an extreme version of the “write what you know.” I know words can change the world. I just never knew how much they would change mine and how much stronger they could make me.



FB: @ReneeJean

IN: @authorreneejean

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