sdkfhsdlk

Question of the Week: Risks of Truth-Telling

by Susan Henderson on September 18, 2006

When writing non-fiction and memoir, do you worry about how you portray real people in your life? What have you risked to tell your truths? Or, if you’re someone who has protected others from the truths you know, what have you given up by remaining silent?

(Don’t think you have to be a writer to answer this question. Answer however it applies to your art.)

*

Author and journalist, Amy Wilentz, tells uncomfortable truths, and Wednesday, she’ll talk about the consequences of this.

Amy is the author (or translator) of these books:

Her latest book, however, is of a much more personal nature. In I FEEL EARTHQUAKES MORE OFTEN THAN THEY HAPPEN: COMING TO CALIFORNIA IN THE AGE OF SCHWARZENEGGER (Simon & Schuster, 2006), she writes of her fear of catastrophe following 9-11 and her desire to flee the east coast to what she believed would be a safer place. What she discovers about fear ”“ her own as well as the country’s fear and how that impacts the political scene – drives the narrative of this book.

I looked around New York and the whole place reeked of the aftermath of September 11; there were checkpoints at the subway stops, armed guards at entrances to bridges, and something called “police actions” that occasionally stopped all traffic in both directions (p. 23).

Once in California, however, there were new catastrophes to fear.

At my sons’ new elementary school in a church in Hollywood, I was encouraged to supply what are called “comfort bags” for them. I was given a flyer that told me what to include in the bags marked with their names: a favorite stuffed animal or security object, a book, games, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and perhaps a photograph of the family (which sounded ominous). This was in case of earthquake (p. 25).

What happens when you combine this culture of fear and uncertainty with a hyper-masculine Hollywood star, “who never question[s] himself” (p. 232)?

In shaky times, a politician who projects power, decisiveness, and a measure of violence can win big with the American people. President Bush was such a figure for a time. When an old friend of his disagreed publicly with Schwarzenegger about not returning $2 billion he had borrowed from the education pot and about changing the rules of teacher tenure, the governor called his friend up on the phone and told him that his position was “pussy” (p. 138-9).

As a friend of mine said to me over dinner one night, “I’m a Democrat but I like Bush because he’s decisive. Clinton always wanted to think about every issue from every angle. I can’t stand that, all the doubt and worry, that constant questioning. I want a decision maker.” It’s the same principle that caused Californians to vote for Schwarzenegger, the same thing that made me hope he was a rescuer, the same principle that makes the creationists want to fit the tar pits into a prearranged scheme. People feel comfortable with certainty (p. 184).

The socio-political analysis is not without some risky truth-telling, and much of it concerns celebrities such as Warren Beatty (who graduated from my high school), Carrie Fisher, Joan Didion, Arianna Huffington, and Steve Wasserman.

Amy on Huffington as celebrity:

There are degrees, wattages, of celebrity. Arnold’s is a klieg light; Arianna’s an appliance bulb (p. 101).

On her way from her hybrid Toyota to the makeshift podium, Huffington handed off her grande Starbucks latte cup to an aide, to keep it off camera. To one sector of the California electorate, Starbucks smacks of pretension and privilege; to another, it represents corporatism and globalization; you just can’t win with that cup in your hand. In midwalk, another aide handed her a small bottle of water, instead (p. 102).

Following a lethal blow to Huffington’s campaign, here is a description of a barbecue thrown at her home:

But no, there is no outdoor fire. (The fire is in the kitchen, where the housekeeper is laboring.) Many skinny wives in tight jeans, their blouses diaphanous in the setting sun, come through the big doors of the Huffington breezeway out into the long gardens near the pool, bearing baked desserts which they did not bake and will not eat (p. 103).

What was most eye-opening for me was seeing the deep fears of these unsettling times side-by-side with the absurd, Hollywood-type paradise so many seek.

I wonder: how it can be that when my friend emerges from her yoga class zonked out and blessed out, floating down the pretty little street on brown moccasins to meet me at Peets, and Sir Bernard is playing on his metal drum while girls in Sunday trousers and babies in strollers glide by, I wonder how can it be that at almost the very same moment when my friend sits down and smiles, and I bring her a double tall percent latte, and a baby in pink who’s passing by pats a dog lying under a table outside the door, how can it be that in Iraq, a suicide bomber is busy blowing hundreds of people up into ashes (p. 295-6)?

Stop back on Wednesday to visit with Amy and join the discussion. Have a good day!

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachael Hanel September 18, 2006 at 12:15 pm

If there’s a story to tell, the truth has to come out, even if it’s painful. Readers can sense if you’re holding back. Heck, even before it gets to that stage, agents and editors can sense if you’re holding back. I’m writing a memoir in which I take a critical look at my family relations after my dad suddenly dies. We all went our separate ways and didn’t provide support to each other. However, I’m careful not to assign blame, and I take responsibility for this scenario as well. As I see it, it’s no one person’s fault; it’s just the way it happened. But I am a little fearful of how my family will react to these passages. We may not be very close, but I love them. Since I’m not anywhere near publication at the moment, I haven’t talked to them about the book. But if and when it actually gets published, I plan to have a talk with them, even though I know it will be uncomfortable and it has the possibility of not going over well.

I’m detailing my experiences because I hope readers will take away something from them. Perhaps it can serve as a lesson to other families.

Reply

Myfanwy Collins September 18, 2006 at 12:20 pm

I read Amy Wilentz’s “The Rainy Season” many years ago and it has stuck with me. A heartbreaking book.

When writing non-fiction and memoir, do you worry about how you portray real people in your life? What have you risked to tell your truths? Or, if you’re someone who has protected others from the truths you know, what have you given up by remaining silent?

I do not worry about how I portray real people as I am writing. I also do not worry about this specific thing afterwards–say, if the thing is published. Why? Because I believe I treat people with honesty and respect in all cases. With that said, what worries me is telling the truth about events as I witnessed them. I have a personal essay coming out next spring within which I use a terrifying event in my life as an example. I’m not worried that people will read about this event, rather I’m worried that the person who was the actor where I was the actee will read it and be angry (even though I have changed his name). I’m worried that he will kill me but the essay was important for me to write because it expresses by personal and political beliefs about gun control, about rage, about war, about peace.

Had I not written it and sought publication for it, I would have felt regret and I do not believe in regret.

Reply

Lance Reynald September 18, 2006 at 2:26 pm

wow, what a question.
excuse me a second (lmao)
ok.
I tend to write from some deeply personal places, not really a choice it’s just the only way I know to do it. Most of this type of writing is done from some kind of regressive manner, digging deep into experience and trying to sort it all out through the lens I have to see it now. The cost to my heart and mind now is hellish at times. I often call it the ghosts on the sofa. Hard to do, but the only way I know to do it. By the time the words make it to the page I no longer consider what those around me might think, or more to the point; I’ve written the things I’ve had to write in order to conquer the truths and how they affect me.
I also seem to have a kill switch on what I can write. I find it hard to write about the things I have no resolution for. This makes my writing pretty easy on the people who play current roles in my life; their stories have no end to me, thus I can’t possibly draft them into my work. Present participants in my life inevitably ask “why don’t you write about us?” I tend to joke that once I start writing about you, you’re finished, on your way out.

What was your question again??
somehow I feel I got terribly off track.

Reply

Aurelio September 18, 2006 at 4:00 pm

I worry about the fake people I write.

I worry because they are inevitably based on myself or the people I know, and I worry these people will recognize themselves. I alter and revise and combine them though, so I also worry they’ll go, “I never did that!” or “Why did you turn me into a girl?!!” or “Is that how you see me?!”

Or when it’s me, I worry I’ll embarrass myself.

I worry too much.

It’s good I’m not writing non-fiction. I couldn’t handle the stress.

Reply

Kasper September 18, 2006 at 4:06 pm

In spite of my most determined resolutions,I find it’s unavoidable to fictionalize as I write a memoir. The demands of sentence-and-paragraph-making sometimes dictate that one compress or elide events, personalitiy traits, or gestures. Memory often blurs or sharpens uncontrollably.

My memoir of Fritz Lang, the film director, is peppered with small exaggerations, and I’m sure Herr Lang would object to many of them. But capturing the spirit of a person is the aim of a portrait, for me.

I always remember ( as a painter/portraitist)the observation ( usually attributed to Sargent) that ” . . . a portrait is a picture of a person with something wrong with the mouth . . .” and in spite of our best efforts at truth-telling, the medium often inflects what we say or show. At least that’s true for me; I wouldn’t presume to speak for anyone else.

Nice, challenging question, Susan.

Your friend,

Kasper

Reply

Joe September 18, 2006 at 4:31 pm

What have I risked by telling the truth or given up by remaining silent? It’s a good follow on to last weeks question.

I’ve written about September 11th before. Each time I’ve omitted things which is why, unlike my humor writing, I struggle with every sentence. I’m editing as I write which is enormously painful and unnatural and it shows. I can’t seem to help myself. Some of the details are too graphic. The last thing I want to do is cause pain to people who lost a loved one. I also want to protect people I know from having to relive the day. Yet writing in the abstract doesn’t seem right either.

In a story, Edgar Allan Poe once talked about secrets which do not permit themselves to be told. It’s hard to imagine things about that well documented day that are secret. Something vital is holding back the pictures from the page. If I permit myself to write about it the way I remember it something bad will come of it. 9/11 wasn’t the defining moment of my life – I’m far too callow and superficial for that thank god. But it pulled back a bandage on things I’d rather keep covered. It put me in the spotlight with my friends and with my family for a time – stripped of my humorous defenses. Boy did that suck.

Humor gives the illusion of communicating without the messiness of revealing anything of any importance about me. There’s more to my humor than that but let’s go with it for now. My humor got me through some tough times. It’s gotten me out of more trouble than it’s gotten me into in the first place. Barely. It’s a slim margin but still a net positive overall. It took me awhile to figure out how to apply it in this situation.

I write humourous pieces to entertain myself first and some small audience second. Why would I write about revealing and painful things? It seems selfish to unburden myself at the expense of others. I feel the same way when I write revealing things about my family. Maybe it’s the old Irish tendency to dry dirty linen indoors away from the neighbors prying eyes. Both my parents are gone so it’s much easier to open that door. I’ve written about 9/11 like I’m jotting down crazy entries into a day planner. ‘This happened at this time and then this happened next. Blah blah blah.’ I focus on my perspective and others become walk-on characters without faces.

In some ways I gave up my humor in telling this truth and some of my ability to smile by remaining silent.

I’m going to put a story out there on the Net in the next days or weeks. I have you to thank for it with you’re thoughts and you’re guests thoughts on this site – gee, thanks a lot Sue.

Just kidding. But you’ve reminded me that there are others who lost so much more and who live with much worse daily. I won’t be such a wuss about it.

Reply

Pia September 18, 2006 at 4:37 pm

You’re asking about non-fiction and memoir, but I have a similar situation with my fiction. It cuts close to the bone of personal. There’s a stockpile of things I never said because I was a quiet kid in a noisy, musically-talented family. Around our dinner table, mistakes were examined, but not admitted to, and what I cared about and worried over was what my family wasn’t saying. So in my short story collection, I finally started asking questions through my characters. They took the reins and I held on even though I’m afraid of horses. Some of the stories tell secrets. What my sisters and parents will think about this remains to be seen. I tried to aim for not the truth but a truth.

Reply

mikel k September 18, 2006 at 5:24 pm

When writing non-fiction and memoir, do you worry about how you portray real people in your life? What have you risked to tell your truths? Or, if you’re someone who has protected others from the truths you know, what have you given up by remaining silent?

I can only answer this question in light of my book, “The Delivery Guy,” as it is the only “memoir” that I have ever written. When I first wrote The Delivery Guy, mainly from the driver’s seat of my then beat up Nissan truck, at stoplights, pulled over to the side of the road and on the curb outside the customers’ homes, both before and after the deliveries, I didn’t realize that I was writing a memoir: I thought that I was writing The Catcher in the Rye of now. The Delivery Guy was angry, he was socially detached, he was depressed and depressing and he was arrogant, so he must be the Holden Caufield of NOW, I thought to myself with a broad smile on my face. And just as the world would realize that the delivery guy was the Holden Caufield of now,the world was ,also, going to realize that I was the next J.D. Salinger, or rather the J.D. Salinger of now.

It wasn’t until I started reading the memoirs writtern by the then four authors at The Memoirists’ Collective that I realized that I had written a memoir, that the protagonist in The Delivery Guy was not the Holden Caufield of now, but he was the me of then, coming down from nearly a quarter century of drinking and getting high, transitioning from being an often blacked out Poet Rockstar Wanna Be sort of Music Writer to a hands on father, a man who suddenly cared more about watching his son play little league baseball and buying him the cleats so that he could do so, than he did about getting his own face on the cover of the Stoned Roller.

The Memoirists’ Collective, in their books, http://www.myspace.com/thememoiristscollective taught me that I had written about me and what was happening inside and around me and that I had hidden behind the character of Holden Caufield, in my mind. Surely, I could not think these things that the delivery guy was thinking. Could anybody be that angry, that depressed, that low on the social chain, i.e. a deliverer of pizza and chinese food and have opinions on everything ranging from the lousy tippers that he faced every night to the God and Government that he felt were keeping him and those around him down?

Of course I, errrr, the delivery guy did not operate in a vacum. There were people around him, me. People that he, me used to get drunk with. People who were helping him, me stay sober: family, the new family, not the nuclear family that he had blown off for the buzz at age 18. Was I concerned about what I wrote about them? Not at the time. I just wrote what I saw and felt.
Is that honesty? Is that fair to those people? Perhaps not and maybe not. What I felt during that traumatic period is not what I feel today, in these mellower times. I was pissed off at the world back then. I was pissed off at you them him her. And I was pissed off, mainly, at me. So, was I writing honestly. No. I was writing like a whining loser bitching about problems, problems but never, never offering a solution.

I think that some of the people portrayed in The Delivery Guy may smile and be thankful that they are in the book, if they recognize themselves, and I think that some of the people portrayed in the book will be pissed off and think that I have done them some sort of a gross injustice by portraying them as I have.

Except for Ru Paul, I have mentioned noone by their real name.

What I wrote about Scratcher, The Pill, Moper, The Poet, The Feigner and all the others was the way I felt about them at the time. It was a very angry time in my life. I might not look at them the same way now, which is really not to say much because none of them are in my life now.

If each one of them wrote The Delivery Guy, from their perspective, you would have a different book, but they didn’t and they probaby won’t, so you have the book from my perspective, skewed as it may be, obscured by this,clouded by that.

I have risked alienating people. I have risked pissing people off. I have risked law suits. I have risked that they might write their version of me and that I might not like that version. I risk getting run over by a car when I cross the street.

I have not lied in this book. I have let you into how I thought and felt at that time in my life. I have showed you what it is like to go from thinking that getting high and chasing fame were the kick, man, to thinking that being a a hands on poppa is where it’s at. You might not agree with me, the people I have written about might not agree with me, but it is my story and I’m sticking to it. It is my story from that particular time in my life, a time I will never visit again: the kids are nearly out of the abode and I haven t hit the bong or belted the Jack Daniels bottle in 15 years. I don t deliver pizza or chinese food anymore either. And, oh yeah, I don t think that I’m J.D. Salinger, anymore, either.

I am Mikel K.
Have a nice day.

A huge portion of the original draft of The Delivery Guy can be read at
http://www.185cool.com/mikelkpoet/ under “word of…” In two weeks Mikel K will
hand the book over to Maria Dahvana Headley http://www.myspace.com/mariadahvanaheadley
who will hand it over to an agent from the big time and all our dreams
will come true…

Reply

Gail Siegel September 18, 2006 at 6:20 pm

I believe there are lots of truths in my fiction and inevitable lies of perspective in my nonfiction. And I worry about both. But I still plunge ahead and just hope the people who might be hurt are reading something else. John Grisham or the Economist or the funnies.

Reply

Lance Reynald September 18, 2006 at 7:34 pm

sorry, I’ve just gotta jump in here one more time……the water’s great!!

what caught my eye up there was Pia;

just beautiful. wonderful that you have found that voice and know how to use it.

Reply

Darrin September 18, 2006 at 8:11 pm

Great question, Sue.

There are only a few reasons to warrant a withholding of information when I write travel narratives.

One is privacy. I’m not about to rattle off details of someone’s private life without their permission.

The other is that I don’t want to get anyone else in trouble with the law. To gauge this, I’ll take a cue from the culture of the country where the account takes place. If I hung out with someone who was enjoying a fat joint, I wouldn’t mention that fact in writing if weed is illegal in that country.

What have I given up by remaining silent on these tidbits? I’ve given up any thoughts about losing respect from the people in question. They are guests in my narratives, and I’ll treat them with respect.

But if I bribed a guard somewhere in a country where bribing is business as usual, then that’s fair game.

And if I’m pretty sure there’s no way to identify the person in question, then I’ll go ahead and write about it no matter what.

Other than that, everything comes out. Maybe not everyone will like it. But it’s important to me that I write the narratives as I envision them. And that’s worth the risk.

Darrin

Reply

josh kilmer-purcell September 18, 2006 at 9:02 pm

amy’s book sounds great. can’t wait to read it.

as for the question…i tend to portray myself in a sufficiently negative light so that everyone else in my writing seems brilliantly perfect by comparison.

even tho’ they’re not.

it’s a sort of sleight of hand.

Reply

Noria September 19, 2006 at 12:38 am

I pretty much suck at non-fiction–I feel constrained by truth, by its slipperiness, and by the insufficiency of language and how in telling The Truth I inevitably end up burying it because I can never get it exactly right. The veil of fiction frees me up to write more truthfully. But those close to me reveal less of themselves since I’ve been published, and frequently preface confidences by saying, “If I tell you this, you can’t write about it, okay?”

I think it was Lynn Freed who wrote about the necessity of (figuratively) killing her family in order to write honestly.

Reply

Patry September 19, 2006 at 1:01 am

I make things up, but people still think it’s all about them.
Maybe I should write a memoir so everyone can deny it’s true.

Reply

Susan Henderson September 19, 2006 at 1:01 pm

Wow,these comments! Let me get my coffee and read through these again nice and slow. Those of you who know me well know that when the Steelers lose, the next day feels like a terrible hangover. Give me a little extra time to shake it off and then I’ll respond to your amazing and thoughtful posts.

Reply

Darrin September 19, 2006 at 2:55 pm

“Other than that, everything comes out.”

by “comes out”, I meant “gets revealed”. But I bet y’all already figured that out…

Reply

Carolyn Burns Bass September 19, 2006 at 3:11 pm

Rachel said, “If there’s a story to tell, the truth has to come out, even if it’s painful.”

Just this week I removed a line from a short story entered in a contest because it smacked too close to a truth that would hurt someone dear to me. The story is hugely autobiographical and those who know me would see the reference, know exactly to whom it was directed, and thus their perception of the person I wrote about would be changed in the mind of those readers. I removed the line because the story could stand on its own without it. I realized this was a case where there is a story, but this was not the place to tell it.

Aurelio and Pia already said what my first reaction was upon reading your question of the week. I don’t write fiction because it’s cheaper than going to a therapist, but every story I write winds up with a theme that’s been digging at my unconscious. Many times I sit down to write about *this,* but *that* will emerge and I’ll think, “where did *that* come from?” Sometimes I’m delighted by what appears, but like the line I cut from the contest story I’m more often amazed, freaked, or even scared by what I must do to “serve the work.”

Reply

Frank Daniels September 19, 2006 at 4:39 pm

Memoir? What’s a memoir? I take offense to the whole idea of memoir. It wants to indicate truthfulness but the name itself is dishonest, and is more “truthy” than truth. Perhaps I’m being too coy about all of this. Here’s my point: writers have been writing truth about life and the world we live in ever since writing began. It is only within the last decade or so that we started labeling things “memoir” or “novel” and I think that this seemingly harmless distinction has perhaps unalterably, permanently damaged literature as a whole. Used to be, there were books. If they had stories in them that weren’t dry historical tracts, then they were given no label. And even when they were dry histories (Just the facts, ma’am), we all know that history is written by the winners, so there were fictions galore in those as well. If the book in question were written by a historical figure or a celebrity, it was called an autobiography. Otherwise, they were just books.

So who gives a shit, right? What difference does a harmess compartmentalizing do? Answer: it boxes us in. James Frey (oh no! The man whose name shall not be uttered!) is a perfect example of this. He stated repeatedly for the record that he saw his book along the same lines as the Beats or the writings of Hmeingway. I guarantee you there was just as much made up shit in those books as there was in Frey’s books. And there is no less truth in Frey’s book as there is in On The Road. Does this mean that I think people shouldn’t write stories that are based on the experiences in their lives? Hell no. Those are the stories that, for me personally, resound the most. But for fuck sake, let’s stop using the term “memoir”, and let the artistry of the writing and the truths revealed within these works stand on their own merits. And if it makes some people feel better, they can slap a “Based on a true story” sticker on the front cover.

As for my own writing, it’s not a big secret that FUTUREPROOF is based on many of my own life experiences. And I was told repeatedly by agents and editors that I’d have an eazy sell if I just came out and “admitted” that the book was a memoir. But it says “a novel” on the front cover for a very good reason. It says “a novel” because I wanted it to say the exact opposite of “memoir”. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to publish it with just the title and my name and leave it at that, and still have people take a look to see what all ther hype is about….

Reply

Susan Henderson September 19, 2006 at 6:11 pm

Rachel – You’ve got me thinking about this line: “Readers can sense if you’re holding back.” I think I’m going to address this more on Friday. I really appreciate you being here and what you add to the conversation.

Aurelio – I smiled so much when I read this.

Lance – I’m very similar in that I seem to have no control over what I write – I just start tunneling desperately to create some sense of order. To conquer the sense of chaos I feel.

Myfanwy – I believe you do this in your writing – your characters are shown respect by how fully you create them. I try to do the same.

Joe – Well said – the internal Irish editor who keeps you from revealing too much.

Kasper – I can’t tell you how much I learn about writing when I hear you talk about painting. Nice thoughts on the slipperiness of truth, as well.

Pia – I know this well – the desire to give voice to a quiet kid now that you can.

Mikel K – You get at something here that I think I’ll address more on Friday – this idea you describe well about portraying your character’s opinions not as your mellow and more worldly self but with the opinions, worldview and intensity of the time you character is in.

Gail – Me, too: truth in fiction, lies in non-fiction, and worry all-around.

Noria – Oh, that’s nice, how fiction allows you to be more truthful. I think I heard Lance Reynald using that quote you referred to – maybe he’ll elaborate?

Josh – Ha! So glad you’re here!

Darrin – That’s a very original thought around here – the perspective of a travel writer exposing only what’s legal or respectful given the country he’s writing about.

Patry – Isn’t that the truth – how a reader always wants to find himself inside a story?

Carolyn – Fascinating, that choice to cut a line from the story to spare a person in real life. Thanks for bringing that piece to the conversation.

Frank – I agree! Our fictions contain so many truths. Our truths contain so many lies – whether they are to make a story better-paced or they come from our own blindspots. How wonderful when we throw away the labels and just allow ourselves to be transported and emotionally changed by the stories we read.

Reply

Lance Reynald September 20, 2006 at 1:42 am

maybe I’ll elaborate??
ok.

here’s what I have tacked up above the trusty Mac.

“every woman artist has to kill her own grandmother. She perches on our shoulder whispering, “don’t embarrass the family’.” – Erica Jong

and while we’re at it I think I might as well throw this one into the mix, it seems to fit this thread;
“one of the things a writer is for is to say the unsayable, speak the unspeakable and ask difficult questions.” -Salman Rushdie

and Frank- He, I’m so on Team Frey!
The world of Genre Writing has created an enviroment where literature is downright disposable. If a writer crafts words well it should be irrelevent what you call the physical book. I’m of the school that there is no fiction in writing, you are sharing a subjective view; the writer is always in the work. and there is the human truth.
ask me to elaborate on this one at a later date…..I’m beat.

xo- LR

Susan- always a pleasure!!
do I get a cookie now??

Reply

Susan Henderson September 20, 2006 at 2:01 am

Cookies for you, and you can lick the spoon while they’re baking!

Reply

Noria September 20, 2006 at 3:21 pm

Here’s the Lynn Freed version of the Erica Jong quote:

Writers are natural murderers. Their murderousness is a form of sociopathy, fueled by resentment, scorn, glee, and deep affection. Before they can even begin writing, they must kill off parents, siblings, lovers, mentors, friends—anyone, in short, whose opinion might matter. If these people are left alive and allowed to take up residence in the front row of the audience, the writer will never be able to get the fiction right. More than this, she will never want to get it right. What she must do, if the fiction is to take breath, is to defictionalise the life, to disentangle it from the myths and fictions that we all create in order to control what we cannot alter. And then to work down, down, down, to the morally anaerobic heart of the matter within.

–Lynn Freed, Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home

Reply

Frank Daniels September 20, 2006 at 7:06 pm

Lance: This is me officially asking for you to elaborate at a later date. ‘Coure, sounds like you’ll be preaching to the choir. With me anyway. 😉

Reply

Portraits September 20, 2006 at 8:56 pm

I don’t have much experience writing memoir-type work, and I question how much information should be put into them. Too little and you have a boring read, but what is too much? If you care about the people in your life, do you violate their privacy in how it relates to your experiences with them? That doesn’t seem right, but at the same time honesty in memoirs is important (as evidenced by the James Frey debacle). In this age, privacy is almost non-existent, but it’s that rarity that makes people cling to it even more. It seems that unless you’re writing about experiences with those that are already in the public eye, or some event that has garnered high media attention, it’s a tough choice.

I FEEL EARTHQUAKES MORE OFTEN THAN THEY HAPPEN (from what I’ve read of these excerpts) seems to offer an interesting balance, by keeping the names and physical descriptions on non-celebrities to a minimum.

Reply

Susan Henderson September 21, 2006 at 12:35 am

Noria – Great quote about how you can’t write anything decent if you’re imagining what your friends and family will think of it.

Frank – Isn’t it fun singling Lance out?

Portraits – You put your finger right on the tension – most writers don’t want to be boring and most writers don’t want to violate others. No easy answers. Thanks for being here, Portraits!

Reply

Lance Reynald September 21, 2006 at 1:23 am

Frank:certainly at a later date.
I dunno, maybe I can stir up a group of “writers” and get a panel going somewhere.
anyone have Frey and LeRoy’s emails?

😉

Susan: it’s cause I’m the new kid isn’t it? if ya start pants-ing me this soon I’ll never show you that spot under the bleachers where the cool kids smoke.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post:

sdkfhsdlk