The dangers of writing memoir

This is a new series about the challenges that attend anyone writing memoir. In this series I will be attempting to address and soothe the largely fictional fears that stop us from writing what we want to about our lives and what has happened to us in the course of them, and more pertinently, what we may have learned through the process of growing older that has benefited us, and may, perhaps, benefit others.

Many writers seem very concerned about the risks of getting their memoirs published, and although there is definitely a good reason why many authors write under a pseudonym – perhaps it helps us to write more honestly, and it can be kinder to others to add that element of privacy – I suspect we can worry too much about the dangers of writing memoir. Our worries may be worse than they need be because we don’t quite know what aspects to consider or where to start.  

Most memoirists fret a bit, especially if family happens to be vocal, numerous or in the public eye. If I write all about this, will my family still be speaking to me once I’ve finished? Isn’t my sister going to be furious at me for washing family linen in public? What right do I have to do that? What about defamatory comments, or even, a totally unreasonable member of the family deciding to take exception to what I’ve written and threatening to sue or cut off contact? Might it be better to not go ahead? Best just forget it?

I haven’t yet met a memoirist who writes under a pseudonym only or mainly because they are concerned that if they were ever to reveal real names and places, they might be sued or disowned. I’ve no doubt there are some. Even in such cases, there are things we can do, well before publication, to ensure that any likely disputes with aggrieved others are resolved before they escalate.

Thanks for listening.

(To be continued)

Please share: