When my Lucky Press LLC publisher and I spoke the other day, I brought up the subject of writing about folks still around and the use of pseudonyms or not. She said the book will have a disclaimer so I shouldn’t have to worry. But I decided to have my dear friends Linda, Alice, and Richard approve a piece beforehand because these are the folks besides Bob and Ben whom I still see. These are folks I love very much, and I do not want the risk of their unhappiness about anything I write about them. I don’t plan to use pseudomyms for them.
That leaves the folks in the book whom I haven't seen since Paul died -- by their choice or mine. I don't plan on using their real names, and I've taken the risk test where they are concerned. As a result, I don’t think I need to worry about a privacy or defamation charge as defined by Amy Cook, an attorney who wrote a piece on what every memoir writer needs to know in the July/August 2010 issue of “Writer’s Digest.” Except for her first and last criteria that I’m writing about real people who are private and not public people, they won’t be recognizable to the readers, I’m not making disputable statements of fact, I’m not disclosing private and possibly embarrassing information, the matters discussed are not of concern to the community at large, and I’m not disclosing a crime.
Of course this issue is a concern to all writers – not only memoir writers – because so often fictional characters and stories are derived from real life.
In another article in the September 2010 of “The Writer” magazine, Gregory Martin states: “A memoir is a reckoning, and among its final reckonings is the author’s decision to tell the story at all.” He also says, “…you need to think hard about the real-life implications of your work long before it reaches any editor. If you have, and afterward, if you can’t quite breathe deeply, if you become aware of a low-level underlying anxiety to all your waking hours, a kind of agony, at the thought of what might happen if your story does get published, then maybe you’re ready for submission.”
I love that he wrote that. A man after my own heart.
Suffice it to say, I’m way past the submission stage. I’m getting my story ready for publication. I’m moving slowly toward my deadline. So my deep breaths are few and far between and my anxiety level has risen up toward high. And, it’s all good. It’s all about my excitement of getting published.