Sarah Saffian -- The Politics of Writing About Loved Ones

Monday, July 21, 2014 - 11:43am
A novelist has it easy—his characters, sprung from his imagination, don’t talk back when they’re not happy with the way they’re depicted on the page. But what if your character is your ex-husband, your twin brother, your mother? Are familial loyalty and literary integrity necessarily at odds? How can we most effectively navigate this touchy terrain, to maintain our real-life relationships without compromising the stories we need to tell? In this lecture/ discussion, we’ll grapple with such prickly issues as: the possibility of multiple “truths”; altering identifying characteristics; inviting loved ones into your writing process (or not); the pros and cons of allowing relatives to read your manuscript, and how much to revise per their comments, if at all; determining if what could hurt others truly advances the story. Whether you’re in the midst of a memoir project or are just contemplating one and scared off by this very conflict, let’s explore forms of expression that we can stand behind both as authors and as brothers/ daughters/friends.


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