I had the pleasure of reading an early draft of Bethany Harvey’s moving memoir, Dipped In It. When she later asked me to write an endorsement for the release, here’s what I said… Bethany tackles the messiness of life and loss with grace, honesty, and humor. From the first word, her raw, open writing style pulled me in. I laughed with her, cried with her, and cheered her on every step of the way. Grab a box of tissue and a cup of tea!
This lovely little gem of a memoir is set to release on July 9th. So, before you grab a copy of the book, along with your tissue and tea, let’s get to know Bethany a little better.
Tabitha Lord: Welcome, Bethany! Can you talk a little about how this book came into being, and the personal journey you were on while writing it?
Bethany Harvey: I had been through several years of adjusting to some pretty major life events (not all bad events, but major transitions nonetheless), such as almost instantly going from stay at home mom to a business owner with ten employees, to being a single mother, my divorce, my ex coming out as transgender, and trying to get back into the dating game after thirteen years to name a few!
I was handling it all pretty well, until my father, who I adored, passed away unexpectedly. And I felt myself unraveling. At the time I had not yet learned that a person can be both a grateful person, and simultaneously be a person who is deeply feeling allll of the negative emotions associated with grief—anger, confusion, sadness, resentment…and on and on. I tried to prove to myself that I was still a grateful person, even from the bottom of the well I found myself in.
I know now what I was really trying to do was to bypass feeling ALL THE HARD THINGS by skipping to gratitude. To that end, I pledged to write a gratitude post on social media every day—for a freaking YEAR!
This lasted about a week, until I realized what I needed to share—more than gratitude—was honesty. So I started writing about how I REALLY felt, which was….I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. And when I started telling the truth, it resonated with people WAY more than the gratitude posts ever could have. Because people are often not honest on the internet (shocking!). Most people find it refreshing and validating when someone speaks ugly, hard truths about our human-ness. Or as a friend likes to call it “human-MESS.”
That’s my long way of saying that this book was birthed from my gratitude journals turned truth telling sessions. Dipped In It tells the story of how I found myself at the bottom of a well, and how I climbed out of it…and then found myself down there again…and again…and how eventually I learned to appreciate what the well was teaching me. Most importantly, I learned that each time I climb out, it’s a little bit easier.
TL: Sharing my fiction with the world feels brave. I can only imagine the courage it took for you to expose your own very real emotions and pain. When you started writing down your thoughts, was it your intention to turn them into a published memoir?
BH: When you put things out on the internet—not to state the obvious, but…it’s out there. I always knew by hitting “post” I was agreeing to forgo my privacy about anything I’d shared. I definitely got braver and braver as time went on. The thing I always marvel at is the fact that the scarier something feels to share, the more people it resonates with. Every. Time. I’ve learned that we carry a lot of shame around our (uncomfortable) emotions. We think we are alone in the darkness we carry. We are so not alone. The more I delve into sharing my deepest fears, my greatest vulnerabilities, the more I realize they are the SAME as everyone else’s. Different experiences maybe, same emotions. The more we bring our darkness out into the light, the less scary it becomes.
Short answer—my readers make me feel brave with their calls of ME TOO.
As for knowing it would become a book? My Aunt Anne printed out every single thing I wrote during this failed “gratitude journal” experiment. She keeps them all in a three-ring binder. For a while that’s as close to a book as I thought I would get. But I received so much encouragement—so many people telling me they wished I would put together a book for them to be able to give to friends and family when they lost a loved one, or were going through a divorce, or a gender-identity revelation in their family—any hard thing, really. It feels good to have done that.
It also feels like I am saying—here is my heart, do with it as you wish. It’s all yours. So, not scary at all, obviously.
TL: There’s an artistic aspect to writing a cohesive, engaging tale, whether it’s truth or fiction. What have you learned, as a writer, from your publishing journey?
BH: I learned that I could go back and omit the last paragraph or last few sentences from almost any story I told. I have a tendency to wrap everything up for the reader at the end of each story. It took me a while to learn that if I’m telling the story well, YOU GET IT, without me having to spell it out. [And I just deleted my last two sentences.]
Also—don’t feel as though it is a traditional publisher/agent situation or bust. There are a lot of options out there for authors. If you believe your story is worthy, don’t give up on it.
TL: Will you write something else? If so, do you have anything in mind?
BH: I like telling stories about my own experiences, and life sure is good at providing material.
TL: What’s on your to-be-read list?
I have an embarrassing pile of books on my night stand. The Girl with the Louding Voice, A Woman is No Man, What Happened to You? to name a few. I love Morgan Harper Nichols and just got her newest book of poetry and art.
BH: Thank you so much for sharing, Bethany. Wishing you a fantastic release day!
Bethany Harvey lives in Rhode Island with her two wise and wonderful daughters, two cats, and a Labrador who is blessed with both an insatiable appetite and a wildly indiscriminate palate. She is the owner of Bloom, a highly sought-after, nature inspired preschool and childcare center. The woods are her sanctuary, and adventuring on a paddle board is a close second. Her family is big and beautiful and an endless source of love, comfort, and laughter. Bethany always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until her life seemed to lay before her in ruins that she dedicated herself to using this passionate gift to express herself fully, and to invite others to feel it all with her.