Family Fiction

Who owns my memories?

If I write about my childhood, do I have to take into account the impact my truths may have on others who lived in the same house?

If I tap into my life as a young mother, must I take care not to expose my children by sharing their lives as well?

If I explore my relationship with my husband, is it necessary for me to insure his feelings are not hurt by my revelations?

Or do I simply create, tell the truth to the best of my ability and not worry about the reactions of those I love?

Seriously, I’m asking you.  How do you, as a writer, separate your stories from the stories of others?  How do you write honestly, from your gut and your own personal growth, without injuring the very people who planted the seeds of both your discontent and your joy?

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About Author and Speaker Pamela Foster

Pamela Foster is a speaker and author. Her first book, Redneck Goddess, is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Her second book, Bigfoot Blues, will be available in August 2012.
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7 Responses to Family Fiction

  1. Denton Gay says:

    This is a serious problem for writers. I do not think it is necessary to hurt others and I cannot think of a good reason why a writer should. In my opinion, a writer can take the lessons learned from experience and use them to create stories which are very different (to the point of not being recognizable to those who inspired them) from the original experience. A good writer must have the freedom to use experience and change facts for the purpose of crafting as good a story as possible. Perhaps that’s not completely honest, but if you’re true to the lesson/meaning, why not?

    • Ah, but the objections I face are from those who do not want the essence of the idea shared. Twisted and turned, names changed and genders altered, people recognize themselves. And they are not necessarily happy with what they see as an invasion of private memories.

  2. Jan Morrill says:

    How timely. This morning, a friend of mine sent me the following quote by Sylvia Plath:
    “And by the way, everything is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt.”

    I’m still working on the guts part.

  3. I usually fictionalize everything. Most memoirist don’t seem to worry too much about hurting others. I learned much from Marion Roach Smith when she taught a memoir writing class on She Writes. Check her out: http://marionroach.com/

  4. Mona Krause says:

    Change the names to protect the ones close to you and tell them it is fiction. If they did something bad they will know who they are. I am willing to bet they won’t say a word.

  5. Hey Mona! Oh yeah, they will say a word. Or more accurately, stop talking to me altogether.
    I admit, it’s hard to be friends with a writer. Everytime a friend reveals something personal, they must edit themselves wondering, ‘now how she’s going to turn THIS revelations into a scene in one her her novels?”

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