Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Negative Effects of Writing Memoir

I've felt stilted lately.
    When Miss Priss read my blog, she let me have it--WHAM. Do you remember her? She's practically my mortal enemy. Well, that confrontation did not go well.

    If you'd like to read more about her beauty and RUDENESS, please go HERE
    Anyway, then The Golden Sky--my book about Zeke--started spreading like crazy.  Suddenly everyone knew his story.  I went bowling and a stranger stopped me in the parking lot.  "EC Stilson!" she said. I just looked around. "EC!  Elisa, it's you.  Everything you've gone through.  When Zeke died and your dad had cancer.  But so much of the book was filled with humor! I'll never forget it . . . Will you sign my book?"  And she actually had my book in her car!
    I kept looking behind me, thinking no one would recognize me and want my signature.  I stuttered and she waited kindly. After a moment, we talked and I smiled. It made my day, really, but that meeting marked the beginning of some bad times.
    People in my memoirs started reading them. Great folks who I'd never written bad things about called to apologize in case they'd hurt me.
    "That wasn't you," I told one man.
    "Thank God," he said. "I felt terrible."   
    Another dear, DEAR friend called.  "That was me," she said, describing a certain part of the story.
    "NO, it wasn't.  That's someone else who's related--twice removed--you don't even know them.  Oh wait, do you know so-and-so?  Crap, you do."  I bit my nails because I'd lied and it was her!
    "But we had this exact conversation."
    "And it's funny how many people I've had that conversation with."
    I called back later and confessed. She was great about it, but I cried for a long time.
    The point is, my son died. I released his story so his life would continue somehow; I never meant to hurt anyone.  But I was honest.  THEY made those choices.  If you've read the book, you might remember the woman who said, "Zeke would have lived if I'd had more faith."  Well, she even read the book!

The Golden Sky

    But back to the point, I'm a passive person. So for all of these people to call me, it's felt like the apocalypse.  Most people have been amazing, saying they're sorry.  Others have been defensive claiming their family would never say such things.  But everything in the book is true, and it's out there.  Maybe I shot myself in the foot, or maybe I'm turning into a stronger person.  Either way I feel stifled.  

     So many hilarious things have happened lately but I've worried, thinking I can't write about them. But this morning I woke up and decided, Who Cares!  I'll write about the beautician who nearly shook, cutting my hair after she found out I'm a writer.  "Will you write about me?"
    Originally my answer had been 'no,' but after a comment like that?  Hell, yes.
    So, is it better to be prim and proper, to never 'tell it like it is' because of the consequences?  
    I don't think so.
    I'm tired of feeling stilted.  If people don't like me, or what I write, it's okay.  I want to be honest, to be a fantastic writer, and the only way to get there is to keep writing what I know--writing it how it is.

Your thoughts?   


  1. Dear Elisa, I once read a memoir by a famous writer and he said that all of life--his life and the life of those he'd met--was grist for a writer's manuscript. For myself, I believe that we must decide what is so important to us--friendship or love or whatever--that we would not share it with others. But beyond that, we need to be true to the vision we have for any given manuscript. Or so I believe. Peace.

  2. Dear Elisa, Dee again. One more thought--much of the telling and having what we say accepted is in the way we tell it and the way we show how what was said or done affected us. Peace.

  3. Screw it, tell it like it is and see what happens when all is done haha it is not like you are going out of your way to make anyone the bad guy or anything. They are the ones they did what they did, plus it beats showing their naked rearend this size of Milwaukee on Youtube or something LMAO

  4. Elisa! Hello! Its been a while since I've visited here, but I've been watching you rise from afar. I'm so proud of your success and remember the time we found each other on a blog hop!

    When my dad passed, I clearly remember the behavior of my estranged brother, his wife and her sisters at my dad's funeral. Their behavior and words have become an unwanted part that during that vulnerable time. Their attitude was deplorable. Should I write a memoir about my experience during that time, it certainly wouldn't be complete, factual and honest if I left that out to spare feelings....

    If you said it and did it, you should own it. It's called accountability. Otherwise the old adage should apply..."If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all."

    Keeping quiet and your behavior respectable in times of mourning has its value and benefits. I would think no one would want to become apart of another's memory in such a negative light...besides, you NEVER know if someone has a crazy talent for writing. :)

    God bless you Elisa! May you continue to shine like the star you are.


  5. I love the cartoon, where the mom is at the book signing saying, "But if we had known you were going to grow up to be a writer, we'd have done things differently."

    I don't write memoir, but then I find I did anyway. My fantasy novel, set in another world, had so many friends saying, I remember when that happened. My Mom said, "I saw you on every page."

    I think when we write a story that truly no-one else can tell, it is always going to end up being memoir.

    Dixie Miller Goode

  6. I think your honesty is awesome. Don't let those negative people get you down. Tell your story. It's yours to tell.

  7. We've already discussed this--tell it like it is!!

  8. You have to tell your story as you see it. But it is good to remember that the 'truth' is almost never one-sided ...

  9. Writing the truth may be tough but you made Zeke's story pure and real by the honesty of it all. Everyone says things they regret, even if some won't admit it, but hopefully the majority learned from it and maybe those who won't admit it, might still think twice before they speak again. Accountability isn't a bad thing, and honesty is even better! Don't change a thing about you!

  10. I suppose being a writer you will pick up and use things that you hear people say, all writers probably do this. People shouldn't get so bent out of shape when you use their words in your work. I'd be flattered.

  11. I enjoyed reading about Zeke. It did help me understand what Maria went through when she lost her son Robert. Thanks so much for writing The Golden Sky.

  12. I tell everyone they'll likely end up in my blog. Well, everyone that knows about it anyway. Tony actually TELLS me to write about stuff in my blog... usually about him, his boyish charm, his manly ways. I tell him that no one wants to hear about that stuff. :)

    Youngest has had to write his personal memoirs as his writing assignments this year. We are singing the praises that this part of his unit is done, because there is something about painstakingly revealing his thoughts and feelings on paper (good and bad) that is worse than death for him.

  13. What is the motivation behind these people being upset that you're writing about them? If they're being decent human beings, then you'll write about that. If they're being wretched a-holes trying to pass themselves off as decent human beings, you're going to tell the truth and write about that too. Don't you dare censor yourself for them!

  14. I do not have passive children. You are sweet, but definitely not passive. You are sweet and strong. We can't avoid writing the truth, even if we try to transform it into fiction. Carry on, Middle Child!


  15. Exposing ones self to the judgement of others, yeh that's hard. But for me the real hard part is exposing others to the judgement of others. It's a balance of delicate needs. To be true to the story first and for most. To say what needs to be said to make the point, and to do so with out doing damage to the truth. On the other hand wanting to be fair to others to be protective of feelings. But in the end it all comes down to the story.. Art in all forms is a passionate but cruel pursuit.

  16. Most people don't like when the truth is told. I do like the fact that some of them are appologizing to you, but those who aren't - that's their problem. I think you should keep writing whatever you want :) Your stories are always amazing and full of fun. Don't stop because some people can't handle the truth :)

  17. Tell it like is it...or how it was to you. Perception of how something happened, the way it was said, or meant, or even the way they acted is usually different for everyone. To the apologetic bunch, kudos. To the people trying to save face, or would that be save ink?! either way, get over it. Write what you love, love what you write, don't stop doing what you do because people can't handle the truth. :)