How Do I Write Difficult Experiences Without Offending Others?
No two people remember the same experience in the exact same way. So when it comes to sharing your life story in print expect that other people will disagree with you over how the story goes. So the first point to keep in mind is that its your story from your perspective and that you are the only person that can write that.
When I sat down to write about my married years I just couldn’t do it. I am divorced and I don’t wish to write about the negative stuff, besides what good does pointing the finger do? There are always two sides to a story. In reflection I have thought ‘what can I write about those years?’ The answer I came up with is that I can write about my children, about mothering. For now I don’t need to write about my marriage. So point number two: are there things you can write about or around?
If you really have dirt that has to be ‘dished’ or written you could do what Mark Twain did and seal your records for 100 years!
Sometimes the negative just needs to come out and writing is great therapy. By all means write anything and everything but then ask yourself what your motives would be in publishing these tirades? Maybe your father was an alcoholic yet you still acknowledged he was your father and you loved him. Describing life with an alcoholic parent is the reality of your childhood, its integral to your story. You want to raise awareness against the dangers of alcoholism to your extended family. Write from love and choose your words carefully. A friend of mine did this really tastefully, if thats the right word. She also wrote a preface in which she states her intent to portray as truthfully as she can with no malice intended to those she wrote about. Her sister still became offended but that was her choice and frankly her sister’s problem. Don’t own other folk’s problems.
If you do write a ‘difficult’ piece, sit on it a few days then look at it again. Have a second pair of trusted eyes read it over, show a friend and get their viewpoint. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes.
Finally, at the end of the day you may just have to weigh the cost. How important is it that you share these difficult, embarrasing, illegal, revealing experiences? What are you willing to risk? The pen is a mighty weapon; weild it carefully. Life is short. Relationships matter.