Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Guest Post – D.G. Kaye – Writing in Memoir

Delighted that author D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies) is kicking off the Christmas guest posts for this year’s book fair.

As someone who has read all her memoir and non-fiction books, I can think of no better person to share some very important aspect of memoir writing….how it can expose us to experiences that are painful to recall and the inclusion of real people in your life, who might not necessarily agree with your assessment of your relationship, or who might be offended.

Whether writing a novel or writing a memoir, the process is similar with different components. Some may think writing in memoir is easier than creating fictional stories, but the story must still be created, even though taken from our own experiences, facts still must be checked. There can also be added emotional stress when writing such stories as we are forced to relive, sometimes, painful memories.

The process of focusing on past painful events, writing about them, rereading them in revisions and edits can become emotionally draining and sometimes depressing at points. I liken the process of writing my memoirs to going to therapy sessions where I’m baring my raw self and soul to a specialist in search of resolution from the conflict. There can be dark moments when we go back to some unpleasant places in time. I find in those times; I need to step away from my work to distance myself from my story to decompose for awhile.

As memoir writers, it’s our job to tell the truth and convey our stories from our own truth, the way we experienced it. The truth is not made to be sugar-coated or exaggerated. Characters in our stories shouldn’t be adorned for more than who they were just to sensationalize. The purpose of our stories is to keep the readers engaged by allowing them to form their own emotion from what we deliver. The story isn’t a place for us to present ourselves as self-centered or heroic, nor is it to invoke sympathy from the reader, but rather to engage our readers into the stories we tell, allowing them as readers to develop their own emotion from the story, and hopefully gain some insight for themselves from the material they’ve read.

It takes a special blend of courage to be able to write in memoir, first by having to face some unpleasant memories, and then once published, exposing our most intimate stories to the world.

We must also pay attention to the real people who are our characters in our stories. Often, the people we write about are flawed. These people shouldn’t be taken by surprise when finding out they are in someone’s book, finding their flaws exploited publicly. It’s important to learn the infringement laws about libel, slander, defamation of character, and invasion of privacy to protect ourselves from potential lawsuits. If the people we write about concern us with these issues, it’s always best to get permissions from them in writing. Although this may sound like an awkward task, it’s well worth doing to avoid possible repercussions and lawsuits.

Two important things to keep in mind to help avoid potential lawsuits are to change the names and identities of the people in question we are writing about. Write a disclaimer in the front matter of books stating that name and/or occupations have been changed to protect identities. The changes don’t detract from the story being a true memoir, merely a precaution against legal issues. Keep in mind these precautions still may not be enough measures to protect against potential lawsuits, but they are the first important steps to take.

I would advise writers who are endeavoring into publishing memoirs, or any other books, which may contain incriminating actions of real characters in your stories, to do due diligence and read up on the proper protocol to protect against publishing any infringing material.

For more information about potential legalities involved with writing about real people in your books, here’s an excellent article from author/lawyer, Helen Sedwick: How to use Real People in your Writing

I would highly recommend any writer entering into the publishing world to read Helen’s book, the Self Publisher’s Legal Handbook. Do your homework so you can write and publish with good conscience that way you will sleep better.

©D.G. Kaye

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

A recent review for Conflicted Hearts

It’s not often I get to read a book by someone who understands what it is to be tethered to a mother with NPD. So often we are asked, “why did you not just walk away?” This author did leave home at 18, but that did not prevent her mother from interfering in her life and when she eventually went no contact she was overcome with guilt. It didn’t matter that her two brothers and a sister also shared in the abuse, rarely physical, but mental – which believe me is far worse. I could resonate with the words on every page, and if you have a mother who just does not seem to love you, then this is a must-read.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

More reviews and follow Debby: Goodreads

Connect to Debby Gies

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

Catch up with Debby’s Travel Column here every month:

My thanks to Debby for sharing her expertise and experience in memoir writing and please head over to explore her books further as all would make great gifts this Christmas. Thanks Sally.

67 thoughts on “Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Guest Post – D.G. Kaye – Writing in Memoir

  1. Great article. Thank you Debby and Sally.It must be so hard to write a memoir when childhood – which should be carefree and happy – is clouded or overwhelmed by sadness/mental or physical cruelty. That I was able to write mine in such a positive manner (despite separations in WW2) was, in the main, because of the abundance of caring and love I was shown, and I truly appreciate how lucky I was. Hugs xx

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  2. Sal, thank you so much for kicking off the show with my post. I hope it helps other writers and adds something for readers getting a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of writing memoir. ❤ xx Will reblog soon! ❤ xx You know how I roll 🙂 xox

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  3. Man, what a powerful piece of writing! I have nothing but admiration for Debby after reading Conflicted Hearts because she bares her soul to the world in that book. I think, as a reader, we connect best with anyone courageous enough to write about something so personal. Even if we haven’t experienced the same struggles, we can all relate to the feelings of questioning our own imperfections. Readers are not looking for perfect human beings; we are looking for people we can identify with. For me, this means accepting others, whatever their strengths and faults may be.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your experience and for the practical advice as well. I used to advise many of my patients to try to write about their experiences, and some did find it therapeutic indeed, although I don’t know of any who went on to publish it. Both things take courage, but it can be very therapeutic for readers as well.
    Another great idea from Sally. Thanks!

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  7. I read Conflicted Hearts quite a while ago it was a powerful, emotional read but after reading this I can see how brave and difficult it must have been for you, Debby…I think I should read it again now I know the lady who is Debby. A wonderful insight into a world of memoir writing which I don’t think I could step into …Hugs xxx

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