This past week I was participating in my family movie club (which works essentially the same way as our family book club which I have written about here). While we were on the call waiting for everyone to join, my aunt said she had a question for me about my last blog entry. Some of it seemed familiar to her, like she already read it. Yes, I acknowledged, some of it had appeared in previous blog posts but there was new material, too. She agreed and we left it at that.
I had a few reactions to her comment. First, I was very impressed with her memory! Clearly, she reads the blog, which delights me. I also felt a little guilty – like I wasn’t living up to my end of the bargain. At the same time, I am aware that not all readers have been with me from the beginning and, therefore, need more context. And not all readers commit the stories to memory!
But, this highlights a conundrum I face: how to keep a memoir blog fresh? Bearing in mind that I do have new(er) readers, and since I am working on a book that covers a lot of the same territory.
The truth is, I don’t know if I can. There are more stories to tell, but it is hard to balance my time. If I take the time to develop other memories, ones that don’t fit in the narrative of the book, then I’m not putting the time into the book. And then there’s that pesky life that interferes. So, I find myself struggling.
Plus, there’s one other thing – a much bigger consideration. When I started this process, I read a lot about writing memoir. One of the issues that needs to be confronted is deciding what to share – many things enter into this. Is it my story to tell? An event from childhood can have a profound effect but I may have been an observer of it, not the protagonist. Should I write about that? If I do, should I share it with that person first (assuming they are alive)? Do I need their permission?
There are other questions I need to ask myself: What is my point in telling the story? Is it simply an amusing anecdote? What are the consequences of the telling?
I told myself when I started this that I was writing toward understanding, not revenge. Frankly, I don’t have anything I need to get revenge for. I’m lucky that way. But, in telling certain stories it still may reflect poorly on someone. Some of my posts didn’t make Gary look so good – I believe more of them show him to be the caring, accomplished, loving person that he is – and he is a strong enough person to take it. He has only encouraged me. It is more complicated with other people.
I have no terrible tales to tell, but if I write about hurts and things that scarred me, inevitably flaws are revealed. If it is mine, I am free to choose to write about it. But you never know how someone will receive something I’ve written. In some instances, I have shared the piece before it was posted. Not so much for permission, though my children do have veto power, but rather to get corrections and to give a heads up.
When it is someone else’s flaw, it is hard. I have been writing this blog for over three years now. I’ve gotten this far without causing an estrangement. If I hurt someone, I have not heard about it (but maybe I wouldn’t). I’m getting awfully close to the bone. I want to take care of my relationships – they are more important than the blog. But I do think there is value in writing these stories. The feedback I get suggests that is the case.
All of this is my way of explaining why I may not have a fresh post each week. I need time – to process my thoughts, to, in some cases, give people a heads up, to consider the consequences, to do research (I want to get the facts right when there are facts), to talk to friends and family about their memories. And to work on the book and live a life!
Thank you for your patience, support and encouragement.
9 thoughts on “Things to Consider”
You continue to amaze me. Not that I didn’t always love and admire you, but your maturity and able to express your thoughts so clearly and truthfully are as always to be admired So just keep writing.
First, congratulations on successfully posting a comment! Yay, Mom! Second, thank you for your support! It means everything.
I love that you are open and brave to share your feelings and thoughts with us. By being vulnerable and bare you allow us to see you and how thoughtful and caring you are in spite of life’s juggling. We all have it but you expressed it beautifully. Thank you
Thank you,Rochelle. I appreciate your support.
Hmmmm. It is as if you were talking to one of your favorite brothers…..
If you find it helpful writing about , perhaps a very, very brief period of time (less than 50 years) of being teased (which mom and dad encouraged😎 (just joking MOM) then you have my ok to do so. I am confident that Our brother,, Steven, can withstand whatever slings and arrows you may toss his way.
Thank you for the go-ahead, but I wasn’t actually thinking of you. Now that you mention it, though, perhaps that would be fertile ground to explore :).
Your compassion and wisdom really call us to ask those sane questions of ourselves, whether we are writing, telling stories or even just recalling them in our own minds. Is it kind? Is it true? What dies true mean? Whose viewpoint is represented? In telling a piece of life does it skew perception of the totality of people and relationships? The fact that you pose these issues so eloquently doesn’t solve them, but I think it brings comfort to us all as we struggle to embrace the issues you so boldly and bravely put forth.
Thank you, Donna. I had not thought of it that way. Thank you for your insight.
As long as what you are telling is the truth and it is honestly intended to shed light, you should be able to write about things that may sometimes be sensitive. However, should you worry about people who might be sensitive, feel free to mention that they never told you to go back into a building with an active bomb threat.
On a more serious note, clearly the issues you raise can be delicate and there is a need to earn people’s trust as much as to earn their admiration. It’s the cost of being the wonderful and caring person that you are.
thank you for the deeply thoughtful blog post.