Spotlight on Sheila Hageman

Sheila Hageman is an author, teacher, and Yogini – combining mind and body as an artist. Also the mother of three children, Sheila holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Hunter College and is the author of the recent unabashedly honest memoir Stripping Down, published by last month’s spotlight, Pink Fish Press
Click HERE for the interviews with Pink Fish Press.
Scroll Down to read Part I
In your process of writing memoir, you often relate specific conversations and events that include other people. Did you rely solely on your own memory, have access to journals or writing of your own from that time? Or did you go back and speak to people about their memories? And, if you did rely solely on your own memory, did you have a specific process for your recollections? Photos? etc.
I think I’ve used all those techniques that you mentioned to remember my past. I am lucky enough that I have always kept diaries and journals throughout my life, so I had a lot of great source material to look back upon.

Photographs have always been amazing sparks for my reminiscences, too.

I spoke with others about events I wrote about, but what was most interesting about those conversations was that they usually remembered things differently!

I have also always been very introspective and self-reflective, even as a child. I have always had this kind of photographic type of memory at least when it comes to moments that stood out as important in some way.

My friend Tanya who is a poet once said to me when we were teenagers walking in the snow on our street, “Let’s close our eyes for a moment and seal in this moment so we never forget it.”

And I can still just sit here and be totally transported back, feel the snow on my cheek, and feel the late afternoon closing in around us.

When I’m writing, I just take a moment or a feeling I remember and brainstorm from there. I let myself wander and meander around memories, letting my sense memory lead me to what was important to me in the moment.

As a mother of three, do you have any advice for moms (and dads) to balance work with family
Unfortunately, I do not have a great answer for this question. The truth is that I have found that sacrifices need to be made in some way. I believe if we have something that is so important to us to work on that we will be willing to make those sacrifices.

Does it mean that as a parent we might feel guilty sometimes for wanting to devote time to what’s important to us? Yes, probably. But in the long run, I believe we become better parents as we accept more that we need to honor our own needs and desires, too.

For those parents who say there are no more minutes in the day to be spared, I would say, look harder. Be hard on yourself. Do you really need to watch that episode of television? Or could you be devoting the time to creating your own thing of beauty?

What are you working on now?
Right now I’m devoting most of my time to doing marketing for Stripping Down. I am enjoying it, but miss being deeply entrenched in a writing project.

When I do get moments to write, I am working on a writing book for women, a graphic memoir about body image and even dabbling in a romance novel.

And trying to spend some quality time with my three kids and husband, too!

Final Words of Wisdom
I guess any words of wisdom would be words I need to whisper to myself when I feel like I can’t go on anymore or that nobody is reading my words anyway so why even try.

I would say to myself: remember, you write for you, first and foremost. There’s some reason you feel the need to express yourself through words on paper. It’s okay to not write everyday; it’s okay to take time to be a well-rounded person and have other interests.

You will return to the page if it is meant to be. Nothing will keep you from needing to reflect and understand yourself. The sooner you return to being true to yourself and your need for expression, the sooner you will feel that buzz of satisfaction that comes from having new realizations and reflections of who you are and who you wish to be.

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.