Your sister has ostracized you; your dad complains of chest pains now, and your only aunt says she’d rather undergo root canal work, anesthesia-free, before she invites you over again, all because you’ve exposed them in your published memoir. But, is it really your story?
There is much debate over authors writing their memoir, whether it’s to share their triumphs with the world, or to help others, their story is intertwined with someone else’s. The author’s recounting of events may differ from another family member or friends’ recollection. Of course, there’s also the factor of subjectivity.
Writing your memoir may seem an easy task; after all, it’s your life and you know it well. But, people see their lives in snapshots, and not necessarily cohesively like a fictional novel. The story you tell, is often idiosyncratic in nature, especially if it’s from the perspective of your childhood.
People are always full of praise for showing them in a favorable light; however, those who are shown in less glorious deeds are apt to make your life miserable or take further action based on your published work.
“For legal purposes, check with your attorney . . .” notes Heather Marie Schuldt, a freelance writer and a member of Writers group. She also adds, “Defamation is not something you want on your record.” While Heather’s current novel is science fiction, she brings up a valid point. Writers should be cognizant of using real names of the people they are writing about.
While most memoirs consist of elements of misery and exultations, it’s important to write your memoir from a “healthy place” and not drive the details of occurrences based on feeling victimized or bitter. In addition, readers want honesty from the author. They know when they’ve been cheated with loaded euphemisms, and jelly covered truths. If you can’t state it boldly, don’t write it!
So, is it fair that you should wait to tell your story just because someone will have hurt feelings? What are you to do? Wait until they die? Forget about writing your memoir altogether?
Writers oftentimes do wait to pen their memoir. The death of a particular family member may be a determining influence. In fact, writer, Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, suggests that in her blog, (http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/tips-for-writing-your-memoirs-without-hurting-family-members/.) Waiting until the passing of a family member may be necessary, particularly if the surrounding events were unpleasant.
The writer himself may need to give distance from material that proves too painful to write such as the death of a loved one, abuse, or alcoholism. There is nothing worse than a reader turning page-after-page, ingesting the words of an author, accusatory in tone, berate someone in their book. A memoir that lacks in tenacity from its author, falling short of resolve, and missing the acquired “grander lesson,” is tragic.
A writer ponders many scenarios when considering composing their memoir. The number one concern usually is the backlash from exposing someone in a permanent manner, and without their permission. A writer also has the right to tell their life experiences without allowing others to pull their strings.
Striking the right cord is crucial when writing your memoir. Your journey should be at the pulse of the story, not the negative impressions from individuals. If the author reinterprets the misdeeds caused by others, and turns them into a positive focus, then the book becomes golden. Readers appreciate when the author prevails over opposition. It’s relatable and inspiring!
Thank those who’ve attempted to oppress you. Their intricate role in your dogged conviction, to prove them wrong, by achieving your goals and becoming the success that you are today, are gifts, I’m willing to bet, they hadn’t intended for you to receive. (Copyright © 2012 by Pamela Towns.)
Are you in the process of writing your memoir? If so, what challenges are you facing?