So I’m having a bit of fun with the title of this post, but it accurately captures the emotions I felt while writing Committed: A Memoir of the Artist’s Road. Longtime readers of this blog will know I wrestled with writing about others, both the artists I interviewed on the cross-country road trip depicted in the memoir, as well as family members.
Now, with Committed published, The Loft Literary Center‘s blog Writer’s Block has invited me to share lessons learned. I have done so in a guest post that went live today.
I make it look easy; I even distill it into five simple steps. The truth is, there is nothing simple about writing about real people, but what I share on Writer’s Block are guideposts I will follow going forward. Feel free to drop by The Loft and share your thoughts!
6 thoughts on “Writing About People in Your Life: Terrifying or Disastrous?”
I am about to order the book, Patrick, and look forward to reading it. It sounds like a bold story told with courage. I have enjoyed your blog since you were getting your MFA — keep up the good work. I’m so happy to see that your book is out there.
Thank you, Suzanne! I’m honored, and greatly appreciate your support as a reader.
I have deleted little stories about myself and my family from my blogs.
Ah yes, the think with a blog is that everyone with a computer or smartphone can read it. I will say that when a story is in print it, by definition, makes it a bit more difficult for the story to be read.
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Congratulations on your publication and your determination to be true. You are better than myself. When writing about musicians I listened to, or interviewed, I found I could not write criticism, knowing everyone in their community would read my posts, in a place where not much was written about them at all! So I said upfront that I don’t write bad things. But, if I don’t have good things to say, I won’t write about them. When reviewing festivals or concerts, musicians played the game of “spot the omission”. Did I write paragraphs about their performance? Or did I just say “Then ABC played, followed by…” But you are right. If your writing is not ringing true for you, it won’t work for your readers either.
Thank you, Joanna! I think your approach was more my approach when this was to be a work of journalism. Why not make these people look good? If I’m asking readers to read about them, I should portray them at their best. But when the book became about me–as I write about in the Loft post–I had to show the reader what I was thinking and feeling at the time. There’s one chapter, to give an example, with an artist who comes across as, well, a bit unstable. That encounter had a major impact on the trip, and I couldn’t see how I could present the encounter as anything than what it was. Had the book not been a memoir I likely would have omitted that interview.
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