My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Monday, March 21, 2011


In the past year as I have begun blogging and writing on my own I have become aware of the recent trend in memoir writing. Perhaps it is the lack of continuity of the oral histories that were passed down through generations during times when families were more intact and the world was smaller. The stories of our ancestors were our family legacy and there was the knowledge that one day our own stories would become a part of the thread that binds the generations. There is comfort in both belonging to a History and in knowing one’s life will not fade into the mists of time.
In modern terms there have been many autobiographies written by celebrities; some tell tale Hollywood gossip and some authentic tales of the challenges and struggles of everyday life. Either way people love these, they reassure us that celebrities are human just like us and that they face many of the same obstacles, joys, heartbreaks and just plain mundane details of daily life that we all experience. Perhaps it was this trend that got people thinking, well if s/he can do it I can. Face it, these people are celebrities and although some have a talent for the written word, others not so much but they get published based on their public image and having the right connections. For the rest of us getting published requires considerably more talent and hard work. Again the internet has been a great resource for those interested in Memoir Writing, and like any other internet resource the quality and intention of these groups or individuals vary. There are the kinds of groups I mentioned earlier where writers are free to showcase their work and receive feedback, a rather open forum. Many of these are great fun with word games and writing prompts and a sense of community. Others, designed perhaps for more professional published writers are more selective in their membership and expect to see a regular level of contribution. Then there are those who have “programs” which of course cost money and ask you to purchase books cd’s and other “helpful” items. Let me be clear that I am not against charging money, being a writing coach is a career and one should be compensated appropriately. My word of warning is to make certain this person isn’t simply in it for the money. Do they show samples on their website? Do they offer free tips and prompts? Do they maintain a regular blog that is open to feedback and interaction? One final word of caution, be careful who you submit your work with. Plagiarism has been rampant lately and because the laws of intellectual property rights, copyrights and trade marking on the internet are relatively new and continuously being refined, it can be challenging to protect one’s work.
One issue I see repeatedly fretted over is where to draw the line in self disclosure. How much do we risk revealing about our family? Do we ask for permission ahead of time? “Hey Dad I’m writing a book can I tell about the time you took me along on a date while you were cheating on Mom?” It’s no secret that many of those who have written tell all family histories have suffered the consequences of the family wrath. Another option some writers opt for is to write “fiction” borrowing events from their own experiences but attributing them to fictional characters often creating composite characters of influential people in their lives. The problem is at least for people, who know the writer, it the veil of “fiction” can be pretty thin.
I believe it is possible to write one’s memoirs without alienating your friends and family, at least not entirely. It requires a certain amount of subtlety, discretion and common sense, but I believe it can be done. And if you’re writing about someone who really hurt you in some way, do you really want to cover for them? My goal as a writer is to shine the light into the darker corners of life, and tell the tales of how we made it into the light.

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

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