My memoir about extreme family dysfunction taking place as aging parents die has been out for a week. Sales are brisk (thanks very much first readers!) and reviews are in. The good reviews are gratifying; some people have even expressed gratitude for helping them deal with similar situations. The bad reviews are astounding. So far every one of those has been written by a family member described in the book. They’ve called me Hitler and that’s one of the nicer things they’ve said. Interestingly, every one of the good reviews is an Amazon “verified purchase,” while not one of the negative reviews is. Makes sense, it’s pretty obvious from the content of those reviews, none of the writers have read the book.
It all got me to thinking about what makes writers need/want to tell their stories? I’ve studied memoir writing. One of the first lessons is to be sure you’re not writing to hurt, or to punish, or for revenge. So, I did have to wait until enough time had passed after events that I could feel certain those were not my motivation. My motivation was twofold. First and maybe foremost, it’s a good and compelling story. Yes, it’s my story and from my point of view but I can’t imagine anyone not finding it at least a little bit interesting. Secondly, it might give aid and comfort to others dealing with similar situations because, alas, there are way too many people out there who are. (A future blog post or 100 will deal with that issue.)
If you want to share stories about dealing with your dysfunctional family, this might be the perfect place. Your story may top mine and that’s okay (but a shame for you!). Keep your eye on this space; it should provide some interesting reading. In the meaning, look on Amazon for my reviews and be sure to click on the comments. They highly entertaining. (Not for the faint of heart, though.) Tales From the Family Crypt: When Aging Parents Die, Sibling Rivalry Lives.