When Writing Is Relative

Over the course of the last few years while working on my memoir about my relationship with my body and struggle with food addiction, writing about family became one of my greater challenges.  I grew up in a home where I was expected to maintain a public persona that fit  my political parents’ needs.  Now, writing the truth of our messy lives feels like betrayal.  I find great humor in author Anne Lamott’s words, that if people wanted you to write “warmly” about them, “they should have behaved better.”  However, the reality is more complicated.  None of us is all good or all bad.  And if blessed with grace, we often evolve beyond our bad behavior.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to report for Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies at the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference.  Among the panels I covered was “Truer Words Were Never Spoken: On the Challenges of Writing About Family in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir.  Each panelist shared her approach, highlighting both the pitfalls and triumphs while writing about relatives.