People telling you “you have a great story, you should write a book” might be a kickstart for you to write your memoir.
Multi-Book Author D.G. Kaye Explains in an Article:
“Whether writing a novel or writing a memoir, the process is similar, but it has different components. Some might think, writing a memoir is easier than creating fictional stories, but the story must still be created, even though taken from our own experiences, and facts still must be checked.
There can also be added emotional stress when writing such stories as we are forced to re-live, sometimes, really painful memories. The process of focusing on painful events from your past, writing about them, re-reading them in revisions and edits can become emotionally draining and sometimes depressing at points.
Memoir Writing is Similar to Conflict Resolution.
I compare the process of writing my memoirs to going to therapy sessions where I’m baring my raw self and soul to a specialist in search of resolution from the conflict. There can be dark moments when we go back to some unpleasant places in time. I find in those times that I need to step away from my work to distance myself from my story in order to decompose for awhile.
The Writer’s Job is to Tell the Truth.
As memoir writers, it’s our job to tell the truth and convey our stories from our own truth, the way we experienced it. The truth is not made to be sugar-coated, or exaggerated. Characters in our stories shouldn’t be adorned for more than who they were, just to sensationalize. The purpose of our stories is to keep the readers engaged by allowing them to form their own emotion from what we deliver. The story isn’t a place for us to present ourselves as self-centred or heroic, nor is it to invoke sympathy from the reader. It’s rather to engage our readers into the stories we tell, allowing them to develop their own emotion from the story, and hopefully gain some insight for themselves from the material they’ve read.
Courage to be Able to Write a Memoir.
It takes a special blend of courage to be able to write in memoir, first by having to face some unpleasant memories, and then once published, exposing our most intimate stories to the world.
Be Careful How to Write About the Characters.
We also have to pay attention to our characters in our stories. Often, the people we write about are flawed. These people shouldn’t be taken by surprise when finding out they are in someone’s book, finding their flaws exploited publicly. It’s important to learn the infringement laws about libel, slander, defamation of character, and invasion of privacy to protect ourselves from potential lawsuits. If there are people we write about who concern us with these issues, it’s always best to get permissions from them in writing. Although this may sound like an awkward task, it’s well worth doing to avoid possible repercussions.
How to Avoid Potential Lawsuits.
Two important things to keep in mind to help avoid potential lawsuits, are to change the names and identities of the people in question we are writing about. Write a disclaimer in the front matter of books stating that name and / or occupations have been changed to protect identities. The changes don’t detract from the story being a true memoir, merely a precaution against legal issues. Keep in mind these may still not be enough measures to protect against potential lawsuits, but they are the first important steps to take.
I would advise writers who are endeavouring into publishing memoirs, or any other books, which may contain incriminating actions of real characters in your stories, to do due diligence and read up on the proper protocol to protect against publishing any infringing material.
For more information about potential legalities involved with writing about real people in your books, here’s an excellent article from author/lawyer, Helen Sedwick.
I would highly recommend any writer entering into the publishing world to read Helen’s book, the Self Publisher’s Legal Handbook. Do your homework so you can write and publish with good conscience – this way you will sleep better.
Debby Gies is a Canadian non-fiction / memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues – and to inspire others.
Her latest title, a memoir just launched last week:
P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy