to offend or not to offend

In college, I took a memoir-writing class. At that time, I did not even know about a genre called memoir. I loved the class and did well at it. In fact, the full-length book I am working on today began as an essay from that memoir-writing class. I’m thinking that the journaling I have done since 1971 contributed to my natural flow in this genre. One thing I learned in my memoir-writing class, a thing I had, to some extent forgotten, is that there comes a point in a memoir that the author must decide between truth (I like the use Tristan Rainer’s term “emotional truth”) and keeping the peace. Because truth, even emotional truth, which is actually the only truth people can recall, is likely to offend somebody. I have already experienced this and the book isn’t even completely done, let alone published. At first, my immediate, people-pleasing, I’m-sorry-and-will-immediately-change-the-part-you-don’t-like reaction automatically kicked into gear. I was willing to compromise my truth just to keep people happy. I want them to read the book, don’t I? Of course, I want them to read the book, but if they don’t read the book somebody else will. That’s not to say that I shouldn’t consider what people say. Whether I like what they say or not, I should listen to what they say. And I do. But I don’t HAVE to agree! I don’t have to change my emotional truth to keep people happy. If I do, the book I will be like the person in the Bible “…[s]he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6b). Besides, unless they have written documentation of the literal truth, they are basing their reaction on THEIR emotional truth). So, I keep writing memoir knowing that despite my best efforts, something I write will offend someone.

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2 thoughts on “to offend or not to offend

  1. Pingback: Life Gets in the Way of Writing Memoir | Clarbojahn's Blog

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