"Have you thought about writing your family history, but found yourself stuck from the start? Writing a family narrative can be a daunting task, but Karen Jones Gowen found a way to bring her mother's story to life." (Homespun Magazine)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Deleting Posts

This blog is about writing from life. And occasionally I write too much, then I get embarrassed. Or maybe the event or persons I wrote about might get embarrassed, if they happen to stumble across my blog and recognize themselves.

So I woke up this morning deciding to delete my last post. I don't think this individual reads my blogs, but is she does I wouldn't want her to have pain from reading about herself here.

That said, I must admit that I exaggerate everything. It's part of my writing style. I do it for humor and to make my stories/characters more interesting.

When I wrote Uncut Diamonds, I exaggerated Shawn McGill's parents, making them worse than the very lovely people, sort of nice people, than who they are based on in real life-- (my in-laws). I did this because nice people aren't interesting. Moderate, balanced, well-adjusted people don't make interesting characters in fiction. Or in blog posts.

Uncut Diamonds is a novel about family. Based on real people and real events, yes, but still a novel. I took a lot of liberties, although those involved with the time and the characters can fairly easily recognize themselves and others.

It may be why one of my sister-in-laws hates my novel and refuses to speak to me seems less than enthusiastic about my novel, since she sees her parents portrayed as not very nice people. They aren't villains, they just don't come off real well in the story.

Big deal, it's what writers do. We take stuff and mix it up to make a story. That's what I did with my blog post about the neighbor lady. I took a real incident, real dialogue, and I exaggerated my conclusion/summary to make it into a little story to post here.

Let's see, I have three different blogs, and so far I've deleted a post on each one that I felt might be embarrassing to someone. It's the price you pay when you write from life. Sometimes life can be embarrassing. Too bad we can't delete our bad days, our most embarrassing moments, our painful experiences. Just press the delete button and poof! it's gone! Never happened!

Have you ever gotten in trouble for writing too truthfully? Offending people? Embarrassing yourself and others? Getting fired from your job? Called on the carpet? Let's hope not, but hey it's bound to happen when we write from life!

18 comments:

  1. Hi Karen,
    Yes, I have to be careful because I write personal essay and memoir. I found out that my ex-husband wrote a 40 page rebuttal to my memoir after reading it. Some day I'd love to see that!!
    Karen

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  2. Haha, a 40 page rebuttal? Really? That's funny!

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  3. It's probably hard to write a memoir without offending people. A memoir that doesn't offend anyone isn't worth reading, I would think. ~Miriam

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  4. Haven't deleted a blog post yet, but who knows? I may have to one day. I tend to alter the names of people who might accidentally stumble upon my little corner of the web, so with any luck they won't recognize themselves.

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  5. Miriam, So true!!

    Linda, I never name anyone but I give enough detail that it's clear who I'm talking about.

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  6. Well, I think the bottom line is we can't please everyone. Some will like what we write, some won't. With "true" stuff, of course we have to be cautious. Change names, of course. Write the disclaimer: this is true as I remember it; the characters may see truth differently. Hey, how many of us recognize ourselves in something we read? And some people are going to find fault with everything! Such are my thoughts for the morning.

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  7. Sometimes real life is just too good to not inspire the writer in people! I think it's always best to be sensitive to others own perception of reality. I guess it's also how you use the information - memoir or fiction? I may see things differently to my sister from the same shared memory so may treat a piece of memoir/autobiographical writing with caution. For fiction, I think the writer is free-er to exaggerate and distort to make the event more universal.

    Take care
    x

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  8. Once or twice I've had disagreements with my husband about my blog posts. The first time, I wrote why I'd gotten angry at him, but it was really about me overreacting in the end. So I made him look at it again. He (grudgingly) agreed. Another time I wrote about my mother and he thought since she couldn't give her permission, it wasn't fair. I kept it up anyway.

    It's not easy treading the line, is it?

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  9. So far my blogging hasn't managed to offend anyone. In fact people seem rather pleased to be mentioned. What I'd really like is one of those delete buttons you mentioned where you can delete embarrassing moments. Please tell me where I can get one... please?

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  10. Yes when I was at school. Didn't write any fiction for about five years after that - thank you interfering teacher! :(

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  11. This is tough. I try to let what I write settle a bit before posting. That way I can self-censor. The related question is what to do with comments that you might think are inappropriate. I try not to delete comments -- but I have a couple times.

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  12. I would love to find and hit a delete button for those embarrassing actions and/or words I indulged on. Delete and it is gone. No more egg on face! But then I wonder what I would have to write about if not the egg on face.

    As for other family members, it is a very thin line. A mine field really.

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  13. I loved that deleted blogpost, what I try and do if I come across some interesting dialogue is towrite it down and keep it to include in a story at some stage. I think it is virtually impossible to write without offending someone.

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  14. It's very tricky if writing a memoir, as real people have to be in it sooner or later. I think people just have to really believe in what they are writing and think ahead of all the consequences and whether they can live with them before they go for it. Writing fiction is much easier (even if some it is drawn from life. So much easier to hide under the guise of fiction though!)

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  15. It's funny that you posted about this today since I was hemming and hawing about the story I want to tell but fear the ramifications of it.

    I try to be very careful on the blog. It is a public document and I have no control over who reads it. So I do my best to keep everyone either anonymous or make sure there's a positive to the story I tell.

    I also have not given any friends or family members my blog link yet. I hesitate to combine the two parts of my life.

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  16. Great comments everyone! To add to this discussion-- Costco has now implemented the policy that if an employee bashes the company on a blog, twitter, facebook, etc. it is grounds for termination. And I'm sure they aren't the only company that will do this. Note to self: social media is a public forum.

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  17. I guess I question about half my posts. After posting those entries I'll begin to question whether or not readers will recognize the humor as I did or whether they will misinterpret my intent. Finally I've learned to shrug....and just go with it.

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  18. Jerry, comment response is a pretty accurate gauge. Then there's the losing follower response-- Ouch, that one hurts!

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I don't post very often, but if you leave a comment I'll know someone is out there reading. And then I will post more! Bwa ha ha!