Putting My Pain on Paper
Note from The Editor:
When we were contacted by Quartet Publishing about being involved in the Blog Tour for the release of Candice Dorman’s latest book, Indescribable, obviously we were thrilled to be involved. However, a simple book review was not enough for us here at The Glass House. We were interested in the story behind the story and so invited Candice to open up about just how this important book came to light.
About the Book:
Indescribable is the chilling story of the abuse South African actress Candice Derman suffered at the hands of her stepfather, the man she called ‘Dad.’
Written in the voice of a child with childlike lists, Indescribable
gives important insight into the mind of a victim of sexual abuse.
Candice’s bravery is astounding and as the book reaches the epilogue,
we realise that this is not a story of pain, but one of hope. It’s a story of extraordinary courage.
Writing the Indescribable
My Process by Candice Derman
Age eight was the beginning. An empty notepad, a pen, and a story to be told. I wrote the number eight. My heart beating in my head. I was an actress and for as long as I could remember I’d hidden behind someone else’s lines, but now these were going to be my words.
I knew that once I had begun there would be no stopping the tumbling of words from me. I began writing chronologically in my voice as a child, the chapters becoming the years of my life as my Stepfather abused me. I had no other process. It was simply time for me to write my story.
I would wake up in the morning, have a shower, dress, slip on my highest heels and put on my cheeriest lipstick. How I appeared to others was important. It was as if by looking elegant whilst writing the ugliest of sentences I would in some way be less hurt. I needed the contradiction. My superficial armour. I’d go to my favourite coffee shop to write. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle, being part of everyday life but still able to disappear mentally into my past.
I hand wrote or rather scrawled Indescribable.
Words spilling out after decades of silence, finding their way on to the page, creating sentences faster then my brain could keep up.
Sometimes I had to force myself to stop, to breath and let some paragraphs unfold slowly.
Pausing became as important as writing.
Pausing for a latte, for lunch with my sister, a movie, a conversation with my husband. Pausing was essential for my body to un-live my abuse.
My process began organically, I didn’t set any writing goals, nor a timeline to finish the book. There were some months I wouldn’t write anything. My notebooks would stay closed until I had the energy to start again. I needed to find space to be the adult female me.
My husband Jonathan was instrumental in my writing process. Every Saturday we would sit on our balcony in Johannesburg under the bluest of skies and I would read portions of Indescribable to him.
I couldn’t move on until I had read to him, it was my way of giving myself permission to leave my childhood pain on the pages. Writing a memoir is a very different process to writing a novel. I wasn’t creating characters or structuring a plot, my childhood had already been lived, what I was doing was simply unearthing the words.
Part of my process happened a long time ago, long before I wrote Indescribable. I’d accepted that what happened to me was part of the tapestry of who I had become and that I was also so many other stories. Moving on and letting go helped me to write this book without ever feeling sorry for myself. I had already found the space to dance into womanhood.
Once I had finished Indescribable I was free of the words, nothing more needed to be told. My childhood story had ended and wearing the cheeriest of lipstick no longer held any great meaning.
Candice Derman is a renowned South African actress who launched her career as a TV host and later became a household name for her roles in South African soaps. In 2007 Candice started writing her own story and Indescribable was published in South Africa in 2010, to great critical and commercial acclaim. Candice now lives in London with her husband and daughter.
Praise for Indescribable
‘Candice Derman’s writing debut is harrowing, occasionally horrible, and an object lesson in unflinching honesty’ Business Day, South Africa
‘With Indescribable, Derman has written a book that challenges society to follow her own journey, and not to shrink away from facing the ugly reality of abuse’ Daily Maverick, South Africa