Welcome to Who’s on Fourth! One member of the yeah write community will interview another yeah writer, and the interview will publish the fourth Monday of each month. Fourth in the series features Arden R of Arden Ruth Writes interviewing Bill Dameron of The Authentic Life.

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Yeah write on yeah write: Arden interviews Bill

winners_CFIn June 2012, Bill from The Authentic Life stumbled onto yeah write. He submitted a post, “The Other Bill” and earned crowd favorite as well as a lurker’s favorite. (You know he’s been around a while when I don’t recognize one of the badges he received.) This was only the 59th challenge grid, yet, in Bill, yeah write readers could sense a powerful regular competitor. As many of us know, it can sometimes take a few tries to get exactly what the editors want, but Bill was that rare first-timer to leave with a win. Bill also submitted this particular post to BlogHer and won a 2013 Voices of the Year honor in the heart category. We’re just happy it came to us first.

What makes Bill come back week after week?

Yeah write is a unique place on the web for bloggers who want to improve their writing. Each week I am blown away by so many of the excellent posts and each week I learn something new from other writers that helps me improve my own writing. It is a supportive community of writing.

Since that first week, Bill has been a constant force on the challenge grid. I always look forward to his stories, no matter the theme. When I asked for a piece of advice for other yeah write virgins, he was quick to offer this gem that is worthy of being read by all writers:

Creative nonfiction is so much more than just writing a journal entry. It is the craft of whittling down your story to the essentials. I’m going to paraphrase here, but Chekov said that if you are going to hang a gun on the wall in the first chapter, in the second or third chapter, that gun must absolutely go off. In other words, don’t include things that have no relevance in your narrative. Each paragraph must move the story forward to the next paragraph. And that story must have a beginning, middle, and end with some sort of conflict that keeps it moving to a resolution. I am a big fan of the “bookend,” opening the story with the setup of the conflict and ending with a resolution.

If you don’t know Bill’s story, then I must say it is fairly typical (sarcasm font). He grew up in North Carolina in the 60s and 70s. He got married and had two beautiful daughters. Then, he moved to Boston, came out at 43, and got divorced.

See? Quite typical.

Bill (center) with his daughters Marisa (l) and Sophie (r)

Bill (center) with his daughters Marisa (l) and Sophie (r)

Bill met his husband Paul the good ol’ fashioned way: online. They now have a blended family of five children and split their time between Boston and the southern Maine coast. Though it took a while to get there, Bill can finally be himself.

“My family is amazing. We have four daughters and one son. Three are in college. We laugh. We love. We cry.”

(l-r): Marisa, Celine, Ben (hiding), Megan, Sophie with husband Paul on the table

(l-r): Marisa, Celine, Ben (hiding), Megan, Sophie with husband Paul on the table

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In Bill’s own words, he writes “so that others who have not found their voice can gain courage to speak and join the other voices of those that have come out.”

For 43 years, Bill didn’t have a voice. Bill was the second son of four boys in a very Catholic family. Being gay was not an option. Then one day, seven years ago, in a Walmart parking lot, Bill’s wife asked him if he was gay. After that, everything changed.

Bill jumped back into writing soon after he came out. According to him, “a good writer reveals his fears and I couldn’t do that until I came out.” Once the truth was revealed, he could truly be himself in more ways than one.

He has since been published on the Huffington Post in multiple verticals, Saranac Review, Nerve, The Good Men Project, Yahoo Finance and News, BlogHer, and an interview in Solidus 3, a Colby-Sawyer College literary magazine.

As for his original writing goals, Bill has in his portfolio much of what he’d set out to accomplish. When he first launched The Authentic Life, he wrote simple life stories that showed his normal and loving life with Paul and their family.

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Bill and Paul

Bill and Paul

After that, he wanted to be published on the Huffington Post.

Check.

Then, he wanted to be published in a literary magazine.

Check.

Now ready to publish a book length memoir, Bill has found a mentor in Elizabeth Cohen, author of the memoir The Family on Beartown Road, a New York Times notable book. She also wrote Hypothetical Girl, an Oprah Book Club selection. Bill has taken three memoir writing courses with Cohen through Gotham Writers Workshop in New York.

Her critique and guidance have been invaluable. Her writing is lyrical, humorous, and touching.

When Bill isn’t writing or hanging with his family, he enjoys running and gardening. He uses these hobbies to relieve the stress but it also gives him time to meditate on writing.

Like most writers, Bill is also an avid reader. You can currently find him nose-deep in Family Troubles: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Familya collection of essays from memoirists who exposed family secrets; The Boys of My Youth (for a second time) by Jo Ann Beard; and Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that yeah write is lucky to have such an amazing writer and man contributing to the grid week after week. Make sure to check out his blog The Authentic Life and all the amazing stories Bill shares.

Bill with yeah write promotions editor Stacie D

Bill with yeah write promotions editor Stacie D

Five things you don’t know about Bill:

  • He testified at the New Hampshire State House against the ban on marriage equality
  • He is the direct descendant of two passengers on the Mayflower
  • He is an IT director, working in Harvard Square by day
  • He and Paul own five cars (between all of their children), but Bill takes public transportation
  • He was a piano performance major in college, but after working as a tour guide in Colorado for one summer, he switched to majoring in business

You can follow Bill on Facebook at The Authentic Life or on Twitter at @wcdameron.

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Getting ready for yeah write #159 weekly writing challenge opening tomorrow? Your badge awaits in the sidebar. Grab the code, paste into the text or HTML view of your post, then stand by for a little friendly competition. We’re glad you’re here.