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What Does My Family Think of My Writing?

This post was inspired by a Mother She Writer’s teacher-blogger inviting other bloggers to expand on: Writing and the Public/Private Line: What Will The Family Think?

My fixation on writing began as a child, when I was four, which as it would be, I was telling my father how I wanted to write about our family, to show the world they were not bad people. He told told me, “not only did I not have enough experiences to write, but I also didn’t want to write about family because it might hurt them.”

His counter wholly floored me. I couldn’t get over how writing what I considered ‘the truth’, and at the time ‘a beautiful truth,’ would hurt people hungering in other ways to be understood and treated equally as humans.

But I left that discussion where it was. Again, I was only four. For certain I knew I didn’t have experiences to write… thus began this fixated mission and my long talk with God to gain these experiences.

Fast forward many years, my writing career began with writing for family, about my family. Our story, pared down in an essay, became my first traditionally published work titled the Rev. The Rev was published in Keeping the Faith by Tavis Smiley.

After this publication I decided to write our story in book length form because I believed our story was tremendous. I wanted world-wide eyes on our story, not only to appreciate the work it took (an amateur) to accomplish, but also to see how connected we all really are. More importantly, my primary goal in writing this memoir was to provide my family with a complete version of our most told history.

Writing God Be the Glory was the most difficult work I have ever written to date. I was very concerned about my family, and their feelings. I wanted every single family member to appreciate the historical account. And let me tell you, my family is huge…easily 500 of us I connected through this newsletter effort, and this is only my father’s side of the family.

Many family members sent heartwarming praises about the book, but still, I will never forget my father’s words to me so long ago, coupled with my experience writing God Be the Glory. It was after this experience that I decided to write fiction, albeit in the same building relationships and family vein.

Writing fiction freed me to ‘quote taken from ashes to africa’ "open a vein" and write. I wasn’t overly concerned, or how about, I wasn’t concerned at all about my family reading my work. My family knows me… like I know them. They know ‘how I am’, so while my stories might take a few for a loop and several good spins, the real lesson I learned is, there is no point in writing if I’m afraid to write.

It’s similar to the fear of flying not making the best pilots. Or hemophobics avoiding work in hospitals. Misanthropies probably won’t get a lot out of social services or customer service vocations. And of course, an aversion to writing our truths, for any reason, suppresses that work.

This still doesn’t mean that I do not harbor the deep desire to write one book that my mother can read… and finish… without shaking her head. And just as well, I may as well go on and admit in this same vein of honesty, I have since decided against writing ‘the’ tell-all memoir.

Note: There is one open concern about my books. I’ve been tapped on the shoulder, hinted at, and told point blank my book covers bite. On my end I stand behind my covers. I cherish everything about my work, however I have decided to let the voices that be, take my books back to the drawing board to bring out revised editions. While this is being done I put a little passion in creating a video montage of my books and placed in my sidebar, and below.


Comments

  1. I don't think I could ever write non-fiction. No way! And the fact that you knew you wanted to write about your family since you were four? Incredible! Now I am totally with you on the fiction because if need be, we can disguise folks (and there's that little disclaimer about any resemblance to actual people being purely coincidental). We can still tell "the truth" in fiction. It's just presented in a different way. And nice montage. Good luck with those revised covers.

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    1. Oh, I think we want to wish those revising my covers good luck! For certain this is going to be pretty interesting. And I actually have plans to write non-fiction; it just won't be a 'tell all' memoir, but funny... is that how you see that disclaimer???

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