Time to Find Balance

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I know what you’re thinking…”Where the Hell has she been lately?” Am I right? Well, if I’m not, don’t tell me. I prefer to think that you have missed me and wondered, albeit infrequently, where that hilarious, informative writer has been lately. I’m a bit needy that way.

I won’t bore you with the details of the past few months, which include family medical emergencies and the ever-present avoidance of writing. We’ll just pretend that, just like old friends who don’t talk for a long time, that we are reconnecting as if no time has passed between us. Deal?

So, what else have I been up to? Finding balance in my life. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but two things have been making me feel much more balanced. One is the use of a journal, but not a typical journal. I’ve decided that an art journal makes more sense to me since it’s about expressing myself through art, and just a few words. I like it like that, and since I suck at drawing, I think it’s more fun that way. The photo above is one of my attempts at being creative after. I know, I’m not quitting my day job to be an artist, no worries.

Also, I’m so excited to be hosting a memoir writing group in my area. I started a meetup group specifically for memoir writers after trying out a few writers’ groups that just didn’t hit the spot. I finally decided that I couldn’t be the only one out there who wanted a specific group like that. But then I second-guessed myself and asked two of my friends to sign up, thinking nobody else would show up and I’d be sitting in the back room of my favorite cafe all by myself for the first meeting. To my wonderful surprise, 25 people signed up right away, with many of them sending personal notes about how fabulous it was to find the group and how long they have been looking for such a group. Spot on, right?

The group meets twice a month, critiques about six submissions each meeting, and we cover one aspect of writing at the start of each meeting including dialogue, rewriting, POV, etc. It’s been a real hoot to meet all the writers who have signed up. Some are first-time writers, others are teachers or published writers looking to write more, and some have even signed on with an agent all ready. I don’t consider it a class but more of a discussion group, although I try to have research and information to cover each topic. I’m thinking of even offering a class after this, as long as I keep getting such wonderful feedback. It takes a bit of work before each meeting, but I totally enjoy the interaction and feedback.

So, what am I writing, you ask? Good question. I’ve been working on a memoir, but came across an interesting conundrum while doing research for the group. A lot of memoir has to do with other people, which I already knew. But the question of fairness to those other people is always in the front of the writer’s mind. Will they be upset? Will they be angry? Will they even care? At first, I thought strongly, “It’s my story, my POV and my right to talk about it.” And I know that is the truth. Everyone has their own story to write.

But then again, if you’re writing about someone close to you, is it fair to point out that person’s misfortunes and mistakes? How would I feel if someone wrote about mine? There are some I might not care about, but there are others I might want to keep to myself. After asking myself that question, and realizing that the person I was writing about might not benefit at all from the truth being told, I have decided to put that away for a bit (I’ll come back later) and start a group of memoir/essays instead. They are purely about me, my mistakes, my triumphs (of which there are fewer) and my growth along the way. After that, I may be able to revisit the first project.

So, my question to you is… if you write essays and memoirs, what do you think about including others in your writing? I know that including positive information is usually not an issue, so I’m talking about “outing” someone on their bad behavior, mistakes, etc. Would you?