The Healing Power of Memoir Writing Through Truthtelling~A Guest Post by Self-Published Author,Boyd Lemon

The truth isn’t always beauty but the hunger for it is.” Nadine Gordimer

We had a great discussion about self-publishing last week with self-published author,Rebecca Bricker, This week Boyd Lemon will share his self-publishing journey with us.

When I read Boyds Digging Deep: A  Writer Uncovers His Marriages,I was fascinated by his raw honesty in addressing the truth about his life story. I am thrilled to have Boyd share his story and his decision to self-publish with us all.

Welcome Boyd!

Boyd Lemon is a retired lawyer and self-published author of several books and short stories. From 2007-2010 , he worked with author-writing teacher Natalie Goldberg who encouraged him to write a memoir about his three marriages and divorces, citing "there's gold there."He is currently working on a part memoir,part "how to "book on retirement stating "it is a pleasure to write because I am writing about something that I finally did right."

On addressing the truth in memoir writing~

My memoir, Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages, was finished in late 2010, and it was published in May 2011.  Some of the writing was exhilarating for me, but the introspection required to uncover what I had buried for years, my role in the destruction of my marriages made most of it emotionally excruciating.

 

Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages by Boyd Lemon

I naturally was concerned about how my ex-wives would react to my honest assessment of why our marriages failed.  I had to write about incidents that did not put any of us in a favorable light, as well as disclosing intimate details of our lives.  I also worried about its effect on my four adult children.

 

In the end, writing the memoir was healing.  Acquiring insight into why my marriages failed, what my role was, and through therapy and further introspection, forgiving my ex-wives and myself for being flawed human beings, as all of us are, brought me a peace that I had never known.

 

My ex-wives were not happy, of course.  One does not speak to me, although we didn’t speak much before I wrote the memoir.  One originally said she liked it, but after reading it a second time became angry.  The third refused to read it because, she said, it would upset her too much.  As I write this, the book has been out for eight months, and they have taken no legal action.  I doubt if they will.  I wrote the truth, and anything they might contest would not be sufficient to have caused them any monetary damages.  I changed the names of all significant characters in the book, so that there are few people who know who my ex-wives and children are.

 

My children have been supportive, as I expected them to be, although I don’t doubt that they are saddened by the publication of some of the incidents involving their mothers.  I feel very fortunate to have their support.

 

My advice to memoir writers is to put aside the fear that naturally exists and write your truth.  It is unhealthy to hold it in.  Let others worry about how it affects them.  However, never include in your memoirs or personal essays incidents or facts merely for the purpose of revenge.  You should decide on a theme, a main point of your story, and then include only those people, incidents and facts that are relevant to that theme. Anything else will distract from the story and unnecessarily hurt someone else.

 

About the same time I published Digging Deep, I also published a little book of ten of my short stories, titled Unexpected Love and Other Stories.  These stories are about love and life and how we flawed human beings deal with some of the challenges that we face.

On writing  a travel memoir~

I have recently published a second memoir about my experiences in living in Paris and Tuscany for a year, Eat, Walk, Write: An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany.  Writing it was all pleasure.  I had religiously kept a journal during the year, and editing and polishing the journal so that I had a book that was more readable than the journey brought back all those wonderful memories of Paris and Tuscany, and the frustrations and challenges that I experienced while I was there dimmed in my memory after writing the book.

 

Eat,Walk and Write: An American Senior's Year of Adventures in Paris and Tuscany by Boyd Lemon

On the next project~

I am currently writing what may be my final memoir.  It is a part memoir, part “how to” book on retirement.  It has the potential to help a lot of people deal with unforeseen emotional aspects of retirement.  It is a pleasure to write because I am writing about something that I finally did right in my life.

On deciding to self-publish~

Originally, I tried to obtain an agent to sell Digging Deep to a traditional publisher.  I sent out query letters to a dozen or so agents, three of whom asked to see the manuscript.  I waited six months, and when I hadn’t heard from any of them, I decided to publish with a so-called author services publisher.  I am glad I did.  I never heard from any of the agents.  Publishing has changed so much and so rapidly in the past few years, and is still changing rapidly, that a novice writer has very little chance of having his work published traditionally; and even if he succeeds in that endeavor, he still will have to do all of the promotional work and incur the expense of promotion himself.  So unless and until you become a best-selling author, there doesn’t seem any point to me in trying to have your book published traditionally.  Even then, I’m not sure it is smart, but I’ll worry about that when I become a best selling author.  So far, it hasn’t happened.  I am fortunate to have sufficient retirement income so that I do not have to rely on my writing for financial support.  On the one hand, I sometimes feel regret that I didn’t pursue my passion for writing when I was younger, but on the other hand, then I would have had to try to eke out a living from it or pursue it only part-time.  Now I feel so fortunate to be able to pursue my passion full-time.

 

            If your passion is writing, but you have to work at a “day job,” write as much as you can.  Whenever you have a few minutes, just sit down with your notebook and pen or computer and write.  It will nurture your soul.

Thank you ,Boyd for sharing your experiences with us. You have addressed memoir writing’s biggest challenge,telling the truth in a way that does not disparage others.

Visit Boyd as boydlemon on Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/boydlemon

Boyd’s blog:http://www.boydlemon-writer.com/

For excerpts,reviews  and other information:http://www.BoydLemon-Writer.com

Alternate email address: Boyd@BoydLemon-Writer.com

Please leave any comments or questions for Boyd in the section below~ Winners of the three books will be announced at the end of the week.

 


 

57 Comments

  1. Sharon Lippincott
    Feb 13, 2012

    I’ve reviewed DIGGING DEEP several places and published an interview with Boyd on my blog. I see it as an important treatise on marriage. It also illustrates a powerful way to structure a memoir, interweaving reflection with memories that pull the reader into scenes.

    It’s an interesting contrast with EAT, WALK, WRITE, which is packed with valuable information for travelers, especially those on their way to France, and written in a simpler, narrative form.

  2. Linda Thomas
    Feb 13, 2012

    This is good stuff. Truth. No revenge. Publishing options. I know a few people who are asking questions that this post addresses, so I’ll send them a link.

    Thanks.

    Linda

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 13, 2012

      Linda,
      Thanks. How nice to hear from you! I’ve missed you :-) Boyd has lots of valuable information for writers,especially memoir writers . I appreciate you passing the link on. I hope others stop by and join in the discussion as we all benefit by each other’s comments and questions. You know that saying “it takes a village” is really true. I’m loving these on-line connections!

  3. Kathy Pooler
    Feb 13, 2012

    Yes, Sharon I remember your extensive interview with Boyd and I totally agree with your conclusions about Digging Deep’s value to memoir writers and how Eat,Walk and Write offers a different focus. I think it is a statement about how diversifying in our writing as Boyd has done masterfully can be very powerful. Thanks so much for your comments. Your valuable insights are always appreciated.

  4. Debbie
    Feb 13, 2012

    Thanks, Kathy, for introducing us to Boyd. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for him to tell his story when he knew its telling might adversely affect his ex-wives and grown kids. Great advice for those of us still working a “day job,” too — keep writing, whenever and wherever we can!

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 13, 2012

      I agree,Debbie, telling our stories(truths) which impact directly on others is very difficult. Boyd really shows us how it can be done in Digging Deep Thanks so much, as always, for stopping by and adding to the discussion.

  5. Diana Prusik
    Feb 13, 2012

    This post helped me understand just how difficult memoir writing can be. I suppose an honest memoir forces the author to examine and own up to his or her own flaws and failures, a process difficult enough even without writing about it and sharing it with others in book form. But how therapeutic! What an awesome opportunity for healing! I love Boyd’s advice to writers with busy lives to write as much as we can. Yes, indeed, it nurtures the soul.

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 13, 2012

      Yes, indeed,Diana, memoir certainly forces us to evaluate our flaws honestly as well as deal with the repercussions from those in our lives who have impacted us and are a major part of our stories.Memoir definitely carries with it the power for healing as Boyd shows so well in Digging Deep. Thanks so much for your comments and insights! I love getting the perspective of a Christian fiction writer. We certainly all have to follow a lot of the same rules. As we know, truth is stranger than fiction and all good fiction has elements of the truth as you show in your wonderful book, Delivery.

  6. Cousin Lisa
    Feb 13, 2012

    Kathy,

    Something incredible is happening. I officially want to spend time with many of your guests’ works!

    Today I’m drawn in by a few practically put paragraphs…deceptive, almost, in that they sprang from circumstances anything but practical!

    Self published seems apt. It’s Boyd’s commitment to honest learning that touches me most.

    That…and I sense a knack for balance…”digging” down through the complexitities of a personal journey…ultimately offering up some “how to” possibilities for others. I suspect those years of legal training did much more than pay the bills!!

    I have spent most of my life uncovering personal truths through the process of writing. I suppose you could say that one of my mantras could be: once I reach the place where the words feel true, I know.

    It is no less amazing to resonate with words carefully chosen by another.

    Ah, the diverse values of writing… In a way (in the day to day), we’re all self published.

    Please let Boyd know he definitely has an audience for his upcoming project. I will be watching for his memoir/”how to” on retirement.

    Best of luck to him on his current journey, and thank YOU for the introduction.

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 13, 2012

      Wow ,Lisa. You have some real pearls of insight here~ “once I reach the place where the words feel true, I know.” I have thought all along that you should be writing for publication with your natural”way with words” endowed by our Grandpa Pease and your sweet Mom. I appreciate your perspective and agree that Boyd has shown us all the way to write our truths. I hope you’ll treat yourself to both Digging Deep and Eat,Walk and Write (your name goes into the drawing for a free book at the end of the week) and I too am looking forward to his next how to book for retirees.Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 13, 2012

    “Once I reach the place where the words feel true, I know,” says Lisa. How true! I wish I had said that. I wrote 7 complete drafts of my memoir, and some passages, such as the last few pages, for example, probably a dozen times. I had to keep digging and keep writing until I knew what I was writing was true. What has been so gratifying about publishing Digging Deep are the responses from people that tell me it helped them to understand their relationship better and those for whom it helped summon the courage to write their own truths. It is not an easy process, but oh now rewarding it ultimately can be! Thank you all for your gracious comments. Keep writing, everybody!

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 14, 2012

      Seven complete drafts certainly reflect a lot of digging deep,Boyd but the result seems to have brought healing to not only you but to your readers. Your memoir has achieved its highest purpose. Thanks for sharing with us!

  8. Rebecca Bricker
    Feb 14, 2012

    Boyd, I appreciate the angst and catharsis you experienced as you wrote “Digging Deep” and commend you for pushing through a painful process.

    You mention your concerns about revealing intimate details about your marriages and the impact it would have on your children.

    There seems to be fine a line between the right to tell our truths and invading the privacy of people who are part of our stories.

    It’s my understanding that truth is not a defense in privacy cases and that you can be on thin ice legally if you disclose private embarrassing details about a person (who’s not a public figure) that the public wouldn’t otherwise know – or need to know.

    What guidelines do you follow when deciding what NOT to tell in order to stay on the safe side of the line?

    Is changing names enough, especially when you use your real name as the author?

    This is a thorny issue for many memoir writers. I’d be interested to hear your views on this.

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 14, 2012

      Welcome back, Rebecca! Thank you for these excellent questions about the legal aspects of telling the truth. I look forward to Boyd’s response as well as others who have effectively confronted telling their truth. I think standing in our truth is one of the greatest challenges memoir writers have to face. Thanks for stopping by and stimulating the conversation :-)

  9. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 14, 2012

    Rebecca: You do raise a thorny issue, and a very complicated one. First, changing the names reduces the number of people who know about whom you are writing, and, thereby, almost eliminates the chances of any real monetary damages. Secondly, you have to ask the question, how private was it? For example, my second wife’s use of drugs was not private. She used them in front of a dozen or more people, and even more so with her alcohol abuse. Similarly regarding her affairs, although not as many people knew, the guys knew, of course, and so did a couple of girlfriends. What I am saying is that much of the information you may need to disclose in a memoir upon further reflection may seem private, but is not. Finally, the party who claims to have had his privacy invaded must show extreme embarrassment (enough to create physical illness) or monetary damages. With the affairs, for example, since the stats are that 40 plus percent of people cheat during their marriage. How damaging is it? What you really need to watch out for is some fact that an employer could use to fire the person. If that happens (and the information was truly private), you have a problem. Each fact that is potentially private needs to be analyzed on its own. And you should consider how likely the person is to sue. Would your daughter or mother sue you. That brings up a whole different issue, not the legal problem, but the moral one. Is it morally right to disclose extremely embarrassing, private facts about someone who at the time you learned the facts had a reasonable expectation that you would never disclose them? I think each must answer that question him or herself. It depends on a lot of circumstances, and those circumstances are infinite. The important thing for a memoirist, in my opinion, is to give serious thought to both the legal and moral implications of what he/she is disclosing and listen to the advice of trusted, but unbiased people. Most of what I disclosed about my ex-wives was known by a fair number of people anyway. Those who didn’t know about it would not have known the family well enough to know with the names changed who I was talking about. However, I concede that I came very close to the line on a few occasions. If I were to write the book again, there actually is one incident that I would leave out. And that brings up another issue: I think you need to balance the morality of disclosing the fact with the importance of that fact to the point or theme of your memoir. I did that on a number of occasions in leaving out some incidents that I felt were not really important to my role in the destruction of my marriages. However, with respect to the incident I left in and now, upon further reflection, would take out, I do not believe it did much to further the theme of the book. It did show how insensitive I was to my wife’s feelings, but there was plenty of other evidence of that, and my disclosing the fact embarrassed two people besides me. Anyway, as you can see I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. I don’t know if you read my book, but I would be interested in your judgment about my disclosures if you did.

  10. Rebecca Bricker
    Feb 14, 2012

    Thanks, Boyd – your insight on this is really helpful.

    You make a good point about taking a broader view of what truly is private information.

    In the end, I totally agree with you – if it’s not important to theme, leave it out.

    I look forward to reading your book. I appreciate the difficult inner work you’ve done to tell your story.

  11. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 14, 2012

    Yes, Rebecca. I want to emphasize that merely because somebody claims that information is private does not mean it necessarily is. That person or somebody else may have made it public years ago and is just sorry they did, or don’t want it made public again.

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 14, 2012

      Thanks Rebecca and Boyd for this very enlightening exchange about handling truth and privacy issues, both so central to the memoir writing experience. I appreciate the reinforcement of discerning what event and memories will move the story along as well as the idea that some information has been public knowledge. Seems like such a fine line,but this discussion gives us a lot to think about as we approach our own memories and memoirs. Much appreciated.

  12. Jeff Emmerson
    Feb 14, 2012

    I can’t say enough just how crucial fellowship is in getting our stories out there, especially memoirs! We all know this, but I’m new to this site, and Kathy has already reached out to me in such a wonderful, supportive way that I know I’ve truly connected with an amazing group of people here! Please don’t hesitate to say hello via here or my blogs, and I shall do the same. Let’s kick butt together, and follow our hearts the way we have always wanted to deep inside!!! Our time is NOW.

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 14, 2012

      Jeff, You are a great cheerleader and you are so right, we need to encourage each other to “follow our hearts the way we have always wanted deep inside.” Thanks so much for stopping by and spreading your enthusiasm and passion~contagious and inspiring. I am looking forward to featuring you here in a guest post in a few weeks. Yes, “our time is NOW” Love it! :-)

  13. Smita Jagdale
    Feb 14, 2012

    Kathy, I love reading about other great writers like you, yourself, on your blog. I want to commend Mr. Boyd Lemon, and can’t wait to get hold of his book:”Digging Deep.” It always haunts me how some of these unfortunate kids must be suffering due to the bad marriage(?) of their parents! I tried to study two generations before my generation and dissect so many specimens in my own life, and learned a lot. I wish Boyd has some marvelous scheme to let the unmarried or newly married generation learn the likely problems and how to avoid them. Best of luck to both of you!

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 14, 2012

      Smita, you will enjoy Boyd’s memoir,Digging Deep as he will show you with raw honesty how he addresses his role in the destruction of his marriages. It certainly is a guide for any one who is going to get married, who is struggling in a marriage that is not working or who has gone through a divorce. I’m so happy to have you join in the conversation here and hope you keep coming back. We all have so much to learn from one another :-)

  14. Jeff Emmerson
    Feb 14, 2012

    Hey – quick question: I obviously need to re-name the people in my memoir due to privacy. Any ramifications here? No big deal, right?

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 14, 2012

      Jeff, I think Boyd’s lengthy response below to Rebecca’s questions about privacy may clarify some of your concerns. See what you think.

  15. Libbye A. Morris
    Feb 14, 2012

    Kathy and Boyd, thanks so much for this enlightening post! It is so refreshing to read about someone–finally!–who has bared it all and told the truth. It is indeed cathartic! I have decided to self-publish my memoir about my three-year struggle to end a relationship with an abusive boyfriend. I have changed the names in the book, of course, but I grew up in a town of about 1,000 people, so anyone who knows me will know who he is, and my nephews are his cousins! I have a lot of trepidation about publishing the book because of this. Any insights you could offer? Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, Boyd! Also, which self-publishing company(ies) have you used?

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 14, 2012

      So good to hear from you Libbye.If you haven’t read Rebecca’s post on self-publishing from last week, that may answer some of your questions. Boyd’s response below about what is private information and what is public may also be helpful. There are so many considerations about other people when we write memoirs as well as many fine lines not to cross. I am grateful to self-published authors like Rebecca and Boyd who are willing to share their experiences with us all.Congratulations and best wishes on your decision to self-publish. Hope you’ll stop by again! :-)

    • Barbara Amaya
      Feb 15, 2012

      Hello Kathy, I am so happy to have found your website, and I do not believe in accidents…it was meant to happen and what a timely discussion, I am in the process of writing a memoir and essays about the years I spent on the streets of New York as a young girl during the 60s and all I went through, it is a miracle that I am alive. I too have family members who may not like what I have to say and I have had to come to terms with that. Changing names is one thing, peoples feelings are another, I look forward to seeing what you have written, Barbara Amaya

      • Kathy Pooler
        Feb 15, 2012

        Barb, I am so happy to meet you! I just visited your site and my mouth dropped at all you have endured. I love that you are far enough removed from all your trials to see your life as a story that can give others hope. Survival is possible despite the most incredible odds against it. Just seeing your picture,looking so healthy and vibrant now and knowing what you had been through leaves me in awe. I am so happy you enjoyed Boyd’s discussion about the truth. It’s never easy and we all have to careful not to disparage anyone but sometimes the story needs to be told. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your story. I hope everyone visits your website at barbaraamaya.com. Blessings and continued hope and healing to you. My memoir in the making is also about the power of hope through my faith and my goal is to finish the first draft this year. Stop by again :-)

  16. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 14, 2012

    Libbye: I can’t really advise you without having read the book. You also didn’t say if you still live in the town od 1,000. How likely are they willing to know you published the book? I would be careful. You could have a problem if your boyfriend loses his job and can’t get one because of disclosures in your book.

    As for the best self-publishing companies, I recommend Create Space. It is free for the basic service, easy to upload your manuscript and cover and very helpful and efficient service if you encounter problems or have questions.

  17. Sherrey Meyer
    Feb 15, 2012

    Kathy and Boyd, thanks for such an insightful and honest posting regarding Boyd’s writing. The first thing that surprised me was that I hadn’t realized that Boyd was a retired attorney. I spent almost 40 years of my life working alongside attorneys, and I too have considered some sort of writing about “life after the law firm.” Boyd, should we collaborate?

    I especially appreciated Boyd’s comments on bringing the truth to the page when writing memoir. I struggled with this as I first began writing down my memories, but have come to realize that I need to exorcise my inner self of those painful memories and reach a level of honesty about my life that hasn’t always been there. Thanks again for a great post!

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 15, 2012

      Dear Sherrey,
      Thanks so much for your kind comments. The legalities of memoir writing certainly are a hot topic these days so I’d love to see what you and Boyd can whip up together! I agree,Boyd does show us how he handled his own truth through raw honesty, a task that all memoir writers have to face at some point to get their story out there. I’m happy Boyd’s post resonated with you and appreciate you stopping by. Come again!

  18. Pat
    Feb 15, 2012

    Oh wow! More great stuff. Can’t believe Boyd worked with Natalie Goldberg. The moral/legal issues Rebecca addressed are so relevant. Boyd’s insights on this are especially valuable since he obviously knows all about the law. Boyd’s work inspires all of us to dare to change direction, start over, and rewrite one’s own script. I especially look forward to reading Eat, Walk, Write since I lived in France for so long. What a fascinating guest blog. Thanks Boyd and Kathy.

    • Boyd Lemon
      Feb 15, 2012

      Thank you so much, Pat, for your kind comments. Yes, I can’t say enough about the inspiration I received from Natalie Goldberg. She is one of a kind, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to study writing under her direction. I am going to a week long workshop in the South of France this June, and I don’ think I will ever stop going to her workshops. I believe one should write one’s own truth and not be too timid about other’s reactions, while keeping in mind the legal implications and of course staying within the boundaries of our own sense of morality.

      • Kathy Pooler
        Feb 15, 2012

        Boyd, I love your statement “I believe one should write one’s own truth and not be too timid about other’s reaction, while keeping in mind the legal implications and of course staying within the boundaries of our own sense of morality.” Thank you for this balanced ,believable response and one that you show in Digging Deep.

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 15, 2012

      Dear Pat,
      Thanks so much for your kind comments. You will really like Eat,Walk,Write since you have lived in France. I found Digging Deep to be a testimony to the power of healing in memoir writing through raw honesty and standing in one’s truth. Also if you haven’t read Rebecca’s Tales from Tavanti,you’re in for a real treat. I’m so grateful to both Rebecca and Boyd for sharing their self-publishing experiences and showing how it is possible to get our stories and our truths out there. I appreciate you adding to the conversation ,as always. :-)

  19. Lynne Spreen
    Feb 15, 2012

    Boyd, I hate to bring this up, but the question won’t quit nagging at me: what is the reason such a memoir needs to be published? If writing it is cathartic, that’s really great for you and I congratulate you on finding closure and peace. But the act of publishing it, and making it public, has the opposite effect on others, those who aided you in your journey. So publication comes at a price, and not necessarily yours.

    A lot of memoir writers say, “I felt others could learn from my experience,” and maybe that’s true for your book. But if the shoe were on the other foot, and you were one of the negative characters in somebody else’s memoir, would the “helping others learn” aspect make you feel better about public exposure and embarrassment?

    I apologize if this comment seems harsh, and it’s costing me something to ask it, but it’s an honest question. No offense.

    • Boyd Lemon
      Feb 15, 2012

      Lynne: You raise a valid issue about some memoirs, and there is no need to apologize. I thought long and hard before deciding to publish mine until I felt that my desire to help others trumped any embarrassment of my ex-wives, especially when they acted atrociously. I also had the support of my children, which made a big difference. Generally, I lean toward exposing the truth. What I disclosed was true, so to the extent it embarrassed my ex-wives, they contributed to their embarrassment by their embarrassing conduct. I may have impliedly promised when I married them that I would keep private things private, but what if they were cruel things, undefendable conduct. You wouldn’t argue that if they had sexually molested my children (which they did not), I am obligated to keep that private under my promise of privacy. My second wife emotionally abused my daughter by my previous marriage. I exposed that in the memoir because it showed a lot about her character and contributed to the failure of the marriage. I felt no obligation to deep her abuse private. Understandably, she was appalled at that disclosure and, of course, denied (to my children) that she did it. I don’t think that embarrassment of others is always a reason not to tell the truth. I believe in kindness to my fellow humans, but when they have done something embarrassing that hurt others, I don’t have a problem exposing it. In your comment, you seem to be coming from the point of view of the other person, which certainly should be considered, but should you not also consider your own point of view and whether disclosing immoral or hurtful conduct will help others? After all, they are the ones who did it. I encourage you to consider the feelings of others, but don’t be overly timid about disclosing the truth. Go ahead and write your truth, and then decide whether to publish. What I think is a mistake is to water down the truth and then publish, because you are then publishing something that is disingenuous. It is better not to publish at all under those circumstances. You can always consider including their “side of the story” if they deny what you are saying and specifically say that this is their recollection, but is contrary to yours. Finally, if catharsis is your main goal, then it certainly is legitimate not to publish, or publish to a limited audience. But always ask your self, is it worth keeping in someone’s good graces who engaged in hurtful conduct just to avoid unpleasant conflict? I hope this helps, and I would be happy to speak with you further privately about this issue as it specifically relates to your memoir, especially if it is interfering with your writing your truth. My email address is Boyd@BoydLemon-Writer.com.

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 15, 2012

      Wow, Lynne, what a brave question and probably one that others want to ask and don’t know how. I can always count on you to provoke honest thoughts and stimulate the conversation so thank you for your courage! I’m sure Boyd will have his own response.

      As a memoirist, I can tell you that the truth and the feelings and potential negative reactions of other people who are an important part of my story are a huge challenge and a major consideration as I proceed. For me, my need/desire to get my story out there for the higher purpose of sharing my message of hope, survival, transformation trumps these issues. Quite frankly, I don’t know how I will handle this all in the end-change names, identifying information? I will figure that out when I get there. For now, I must be honest, get in touch with my own truths and weave them into a story that will resonate with others and have the potential to heal. And the more I write, the more convicted I feel to keep writing. This is a fascinating discussion and I hope others will chime in with their own thoughts and feelings on this. Thanks again, Lynne :-)

      • Lynne Spreen
        Feb 17, 2012

        To both Boyd and Kathy, I’m sure memoir writers have to deal with this kind of decision all the time, and it sounds like the motivation to help (and Boyd, the fact that your kids all told you to go for it!) is a noble motive that obviates most other concerns. I am reading “Half Broke Horses” by Jeannette Walls (of Glass Castles fame) right now. It’s a “memoir” by Jeannette of her grandmother. For me, reading it is like eating a can of spinach. I feel more powerful with every chapter. So that validates the power of memoir. Thanks to both of you, and Boyd, we are now Twitter buds so I’m looking forward to getting to know you better. Best wishes.

        • Kathy Pooler
          Feb 17, 2012

          Thanks for your comment,Lynne. I will keep that image of my reader eating a can of spinach and feeling strengthened with each chapter as I write my memoir!

  20. virtualDavis
    Feb 15, 2012

    All hail Boyd Lemon for his sage advice: “put aside the fear that naturally exists and write your truth.” What you do with your raw, personal truth is another matter altogether, but this first step of giving birth to your truth is critical, powerful and almost certainly cathartic. Perhaps this little metaphor makes Mr. Lemon’s wives unwitting widwives? ;-)

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 15, 2012

      Love it George,” what you do with your raw truth is another matter altogether,but this first step of giving birth to your truth is critical, powerful and almost certainly cathartic” Amen! Would love to hear your take on Lynne’s question ,”Is Writign Memoir Worth It”?

  21. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 15, 2012

    Thank you virtual Davis. One could argue that if one behaves poorly, he/she deserves to have it exposed. If my wife denies me sex while having sex with others, is there some God given right she has to keep that private among her, her lover and me? I don’t think so. If she sexually molests my daughter, does she have the right to keep that private? Of course not. What if she just emotionally abuses her? I am raising the question of what exactly does a married person have the right to keep private? That is not an easy question. Maybe nothing if the marriage breaks up. What does everyone think?

  22. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 15, 2012

    Sherrey: I would be happy to be of any help to you that I can in your quest to get your truth told.

  23. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 15, 2012

    I think it is vitally important that while you are writing your memoir that you put out of your mind any concerns about what others may think or even how “appropriate” you think it is Write whatever comes into your head. Just write the truth. Let it all hang out, as we used to say. Then after you have finished and before you publish you can consider how it might affect others and if and how you want to make changes before you publish it, or, perhaps, not publish it at all. But remember the writing of it itself does nobody any harm. Censoring yourself as you write prevents you from telling your truth, and, in my humble opinion, is the worst sin a memoirist can commit. Don’t water it down. Don’t write what you think is proper or what you should write. DO NOT CENSOR YOUR WRITING. If you have to, censor only what you publish.

    • Rebecca Bricker
      Feb 16, 2012

      Good advice here, Boyd!

  24. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 15, 2012

    Natalie Goldberg talks frequently in her writings and in her workshops about “monkey mind.” That is the part of your mind that sits on your shoulder and says, “Oh, no, don’t write that; don’t even think about it; that’s not appropriate; that’s bad; you never say things like that; don’t write it; what would aunt Grace think; and don’t every write “fuck” or take the name of the Lord in vain.”

    Don’t let monkey mind censor your writing; acknowledge he is there; he is always there. But let him be; try not to ever let him influence what you write. Write what you feel from deep within; don’t cross anything out; don’t think too hard about it.l Just write; keep the pen (or your fingers on the keyboard moving). Write about what your father did to you that night. Write about what you did to your little sister. Write about the time you stole money out of the cash register at work. There is plenty of time to think and revise or even throw out later.

  25. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 15, 2012

    It is quite an image, isn’t it Kathy? And it speaks volumes.

    Boyd Lemon-Author of “Eat, Walk, Write: An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany,” “Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages,” the author’s journey to understand his role in the destruction of his three marriages and “Unexpected Love and Other Stories. Information, reviews and excerpts: http://www.BoydLemon-Writer.com.
    Travel blog: http://boomertravelblog.com.

  26. Rebecca Bricker
    Feb 16, 2012

    Boyd, on another topic…I’d like to know what you’ve learned about marketing self-published books. What has worked for you – and what hasn’t? I see that you have many Amazon reviews – did you ask readers to post reviews or did most of that happen spontaneously?

  27. Libbye A. Morris
    Feb 17, 2012

    Wow, this blog post sure has generated a lot of lively discussion. Awesome! Boyd, I do not live in that town of 1,000 anymore, but I now live 150 miles away, after being a couple of thousands of miles away for 26 years. Many of my Facebook friends live in that small town, and some are the ex-boyfriend’s cousins. He lives between my hometown and my current town. He does not have to worry about losing a job because he works for his Dad’s construction company, and they are wealthy. Your warning to be careful makes my heart heavy; I have worked on this memoir since 1998! ACK!!

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 17, 2012

      I appreciate your concerns Libbye. There are so many sticky issues related to privacy, repercussions, when we publish our truths to the world. Lots to consider. I’m not there yet,but I’m sure will be dealing with similar issues. I think seeking legal advice is reasonable. Good luck and keep us posted. Thanks for sharing your comments.

  28. Libbye A. Morris
    Feb 18, 2012

    Kathy, I consulted with a lawyer yesterday. He said that truth is an absolute defense. (I have witnesses and written proof showing that this was indeed an abusive relationship.) Also, the lawyer said that the legal burden is on the ex-boyfriend to prove that it did not happen–the burden is not on me to show that it did happen! That’s very good news!

    • Kathy Pooler
      Feb 18, 2012

      Libbye, that is great news and so good to know. It seems you did the right thing by consulting a lawyer. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Boyd Lemon
    Feb 18, 2012

    Libbye: I would get a second opinion. You may have asked the wrong question. I can’t give legal advice anymore. I am a retired attorney, but no longer licensed. Truth may be a defense to libel and slander, but not to invasion of the right of privacy. Make sure you are asking the right question, and that the attorney is experienced in this area of the law.

  30. Libbye A. Morris
    Feb 18, 2012

    Excellent advice. Thank you, Boyd.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Guest Post by Memoirist Jonna Ivin on How Writing a Memoir Helped Her to Move From “Will Love for Crumbs” to “No More Crumbs”~ | Memoir Writer's Journey - [...] Next Week: Dan Blank of WeGrowMedia will launch a  three-week series on platform-building and marketing for writers in response …
  2. Milestones in My Memoir Writer's Journey: 2012 in Review | Memoir Writer's Journey - [...] “The Healing Power of Memoir Writing Through Truthtelling” Boyd Lemon Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages [...]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>