To Share or Not to Share

A question with no question mark: To share or not to share.

Isn’t this a central question a memoirist often contends with? It wasn’t a question I considered when I began writing my story several years ago, but I do now.  Everyday.

Last week, one of my guitar students, upon learning I was also a writer, asked me, “How do you decide what to write about?”  He said he wouldn’t have a clue as to where to begin or what’s important.  More recently, I visited the blog site of lucewriter, where I happened on a comment by another blogger, Lindsey Gendke:

“Blogging has been so good for me in that it’s made me grapple with whether I’m really ready to share certain parts of myself…”

Lindsey’s words prompted today’s post.  For me, even after grappling with what I’m ready to share, there’s another, probably more important, consideration, and that is theme.

I admit, it wasn’t until I completed the first draft of my book that I was able to clearly see the dominant themes threading their way throughout the work.  Once determined, however, it was easy to frame content within the “to share or not to share” duality–I cut everything that wasn’t a primary or secondary theme.  Of course, recognizing themes doesn’t automatically mean we’re ready to share details.

It seems that the more honest I am with myself, the easier it is to open my life to others. It’s tough to be open with strangers, but it’s harder to be honest with myself–and self-honesty, I believe, is the memoirist’s first responsibility.

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About Ken Lutes

Ken Lutes brings his background in memoir and fiction writing to his work at the North Denver Tribune (northdenvertribune.com). He enjoys interviewing his neighbors in Northwest Denver, where he has lived since 1999. After hours you will find him playing hot gypsy guitar with the Paris Swing Set band.
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4 Responses to To Share or Not to Share

  1. AuthorMarina says:

    Great post. I have grappled with this often while developing my memoir. By “developing” I mean figuring out the answer to what I should or shouldn’t share. I think the toughest part about sharing, is coping with the perceived shame about the incidents witnessed or experienced, at least that’s been a struggle for me.

    Sometimes the facts about what happened seem so bizarre and I realize what a miracle it is that I survived my childhood. Most memoir writers need to sort through the many emotions they experience while writing.

    Thanks for sharing your views on the topic. I look forward to reading more of your work.

    • Ken Lutes says:

      It was difficult to decide what to share in my book. In some cases, I hesitated to record certain events for fear of offending a friend or relative. I couldn’t share with anyone some things that happened to me because I was too embarrassed–I was ashamed of things that weren’t my fault. Ultimately, though, I had to share them or forever face the feeling that I hadn’t been honest with myself. If I’m not honest with me, how can I expect others to trust me?

      In your recent “Redefining Mother’s Day” post (http://runningintothenight.com), you mention not focusing on losses of your youth. Like many with abuse and abandonment issues, I used to do that. I spent my time casting blame on others instead of healing myself. Writing about the past is a valuable endeavor to help reveal and sort through our emotions (an honest, compassionate therapist can help, too).

      I’m glad to read about your journey toward redefining your life, and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  2. Ken, this comment comes very late after the post, but I was floored to see that you quoted me, and glad to find more memoirists grappling with the same things I do. I wonder if this ever gets easier? I suppose it does…I have found it getting a little easier as I share on my blog, and as I have shopped out the rough draft of my memoir to several trusted friends and relatives. The more I share, the more courage I find to continue doing just that. Sometimes when I’ve felt discouraged, I have received a comment from someone telling me my words made a difference, and their words me going. Keep at it! We’re in this together!

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