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Secrets Uncovered

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    I was just wondering if I’m the only one uncovering some family secrets in my memoir. How do you choke down the emotions that comes with writing about them and the fear that someone is going to be very angry? How do you deal with the fact that if this book is published, it could cause a lot of family drama. Also, a friend of mine is mentioned, and I don’t know what he has told his [now] fiance about our history if anything. And they both know I’m writing this memoir.

    Any thoughts? I have already decided not to use names.



    Hi Dawn. I don’t have any great answers for you, but I share many of the same fears. I’m even blogging anonymously at the moment, as I’m concerned about family members – my mother, mainly – seeing some of what I write about. This is one of my biggest challenges in figuring out how to move forward with my memoir about growing up.



    Dawn and mgena. I personally have not attempted to write a memoir that I’d ever publish because there have been many family members or my ex that would take great offense at how I would portray him/her. I feel that before any book of this type could be published, I’d have to get permission or at least prepare that person that unsavory issues would be revealed. I’d also consult an attorney about possible lawsuit repercussions should you feel that would be necessary given the content.

    I know that you may feel it important to write this memoir, but just as important is accepting the results/consequences that may come of it. I do hope you make the decision that is most comfortable for you and your family.

    I will write mine in exaggerated fiction to get it off my chest. I have personal life issues that could fill a few books, but I know that I don’t want to harm my loved ones by the retelling.

    I wish you the best in this endeavor.



    dawn, this is one of the biggest challenges that face people writing their memoirs. Fear of hurting people close to them and making them angry is a valid concern. The only way to avoid it is to give up on writing one. Perhaps write an autobiography instead because with memoirs it’s impossible not to hurt feelings and bring out unsavory memories and/or issues.



    I’m confused–an autobiography is about the duration of ones’ life, from what I’ve been told. A memoir is a “slice in time,” not from birth to older/elder years. Is this different than what you learned?

    Since I’ve completed my first memoir, I’ve learned that coming to a place of acceptance, maybe not until the epilogue, granted, but realizing that this is YOUR story, they have THEIR story
    (and they are free to write their own book)
    and the reality that then, there is usually a TRUTH some where in between the two stories has taken a lot of the guilty feelings from my heart.
    And when it comes right down to it, we can’t control how they will react to anything we write about, do or say in our lives…on occasion they have a very unexpected, 180 degree different reaction than we could have ever anticipated and real, profound healing can happen!! Isn’t that a good thing, rather than trying to guess what they might do, say, or feel?

    In the “real world” of hurt feelings and law suits , however, changing names is a good idea, as well as using a pen name, being discreet about your recent past time while you spend hours and months at the computer AND cya with looking into legal issues if the story remains too specific to be considered ambiguous, are all good ideas, too.



    I agree — CYA by getting legal advice about the possibilities of lawsuits. However, as Leanna said — it is YOUR story told from YOUR perspective and if they don’t like it they can write their own book!

    The Constitution (assuming you are from the U.S.) gives us a very important right — Freedom of Speech.

    Change names and places but leave all the other details. It’s creative non-fiction right? The creative part is that the names and places and dates have been changed to protect identities and feelings. The non-fiction part is the story itself and detailing what actually happened in that slice of time.

    If the folks who are part of Your-story (your history) are going to get mad about what they read, then they shouldn’t have done the things that you are writing about…

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