What to Say, What Not to Say

As some of you know, I’ve been trying to write a novel. Originally when I joined my writer’s group, I had planned to write a memoir, and had gotten pretty far in outlining my efforts. I was going to focus on some of the mental health issues I’ve faced and their consequences, among other things.

Problem is, my mental health issues are tame compared to what many people face. I’ve struggled with depression and was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. In my case that meant there were identifiable episodes of bipolar depression, but it didn’t appear to be an ongoing problem. I do take medication, but for many years now there’s been no sign of anything resembling bipolar disorder.

A lot of my problems come from family issues when I was growing up. I struggled with these all through my 20s and 30s, but now I’ve gotten past them (for the most part) and have healed several of the relationships that brought me down previously.

AdobeStock_563786899I’ve watched young women I know fairly well deal with-or not deal with–many of the same sort of issues I faced at their age, and at least one of them is notorious for saying, “you have no idea what I’m going through.” Those of us who are older and wiser just shake our heads and say to each other, “yeah, right. Like we didn’t go through the same thing.”

If I had a better recall of the specifics of what I went through, it probably would make for some good essays, but I’ve moved past that era of my life and I simply don’t remember the day-to-day struggles. Either that, or I don’t want to.

And here’s the other thing about writing a memoir: in order for it to be any good, I have to be painfully honest, and I have no desire to do that. There’s no healing value in it for me anymore, and other people in my life don’t need to see that part of my life. I’m a fairly private person and I’d like to keep it that way.

Beautiful daisy isolated on white background

Many people I know, in fact, think I had an idyllic childhood. I don’t necessarily want to let them keep believing that, but I don’t really want to go into any detail about why that isn’t true. It’s not that I want to keep secrets, mind you. There’s a difference between secrets and private matters.

Which leads me back to where I began with this post. I’ve been trying to write a novel. I think I’ll stick with that.

Image Credits: Daisy © Leonid Ikan–stock.adobe.com; Both line images © OneLineStock–stock.adobe.com;

10 Replies to “What to Say, What Not to Say”

  1. It is interesting how some people publish a book after different family members/friends have passed so as not to hurt them. And there is ‘Spare’ with not a care in the world as to who is hurt or not. It’s a tough decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand this: “I have to be painfully honest.” I’m currently on revisions of my memoir, and there are parts where my editor has had to push me to do this very thing, because she can tell that I’m holding back on something. It is painful, and you do have to be a specific type of person/writer to put it on paper for others to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good luck on your novel. Similar to you, I go back and forth at times to write a memoir or a novel. What I’ve found is that my novel writing has actually improved because of the family stories that I’ve included. Now I’ve been able to massage and make the novel more elaborate, but it’s still neat to see how my personal stories have influenced the novel. In any event, good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I get it. I can relate to the conflict of how much to reveal about one’s life in a public forum. Fiction can transmit truths in s different way.

    Liked by 1 person

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