Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Sheila - 'You Can't Write About That!'

Flowers - Maria A Smith

It seems to me that if you’re a writer, no memory, or experience, is too sacred, or too precious to be exploited. And we’re not just talking misery memoires here either. 

Problems with a drug addict son? Just purge yourself in print, preferably a best seller. Your friends confide in you their problems with their sex lives, their husbands, their many and varied adulteries, lusting after a best friend’s husband, a husband’s vasectomy? Why not make a few hundred pounds writing an article for a newspaper, never mind that names have been changed to protect the identity of the person being exploited. Surely when people confide in you they do not intend for you to share it with 2 million readers even if you change the names?

On the other hand, all experiences must inform the way we write and how we write. It’s inescapable. I found myself reflecting on this when subconsciously, I wrote a short story which had in it one true fact I had been told in confidence.  Unbidden, it had crept in, central to the story though the interlinking thoughts and feelings were not part of the original. In truth,  it was something that could have happened to any number of people, but if the story ever saw the light of day, and members of my family knew it had been written by me, immediately, they would draw their own conclusions and someone would feel betrayed. 

Strangely enough, when funny things happen at family get togethers, or holidays, my sisters say, “Oh, you can write about that!” I usually answer in the negative, but occasionally, reading back a piece of dialogue I’ve written,  I can immediately recognise a turn of phrase, an odd comment and know the source. It’s remained in my subconscious just waiting for a moment to be used. But would I indulge in a massive betrayal just to see my name in print? I think not.

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