Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Topic: Writing Memoirs

Purpose of this blog: Reviews of interesting ideas in recent English education journals.

10-second review: Be careful about whether your words will offend others whom you write about in the course of writing your memoirs.

Title: “A Memoir is a Reckoning. Are You Ready to ‘Invade Another’s Space?’ ” Gregory Martin. The Writer (September 2010), 32.

Quote: “…there is no avoiding it: your story will inflict damage—willful damage—on real people. The truth hurts. It hurts you, and it hurts your characters, who are not –not really, not ever—words on a page.”

Quote: “I have had people I love not talk to me for years because of something I wrote and published. They did not dispute the truth of what I’d written. They wanted to know why I couldn’t have just kept the story to myself. Good question. The world is full of stories. Ask yourself, why does the world need yours? What absence in the world does your story address and attempt to fill?”

Quote: “The art of memoir by its very nature, comes equipped with its own built-in litmus test. How willing are you to expose and hurt real people in the pursuit of some larger, difficult to justify, greater purpose?”

Comment: When I wrote my memoir—Teaching English, How To…., Xlibris, 2004—I tried to put problems in a positive light. I tried to stay away from villains. Problems were people who had different points of view from mine. And yet I couldn’t help striking out at people with whom I crossed swords even though I never mentioned their names. They knew who they were and resented it.

Frankly, I never thought about this problem in writing memoirs. It’s a real one. RayS.

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