Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hunka hunka burnin' hate

A memoir is not a place to settle old scores. You still hate your ex? I’m sorry to hear that. Does writing down all the things your ex did to you that gave rise to your hatred make you feel better? Great! Write them all down. Have a ceremony. Burn the document. Reformat your hard drive. Do what you need to do; just don’t seek revenge through publication. Doing so will enrich attorneys but will ruin you.

I recently edited a professional memoir for a retired teacher, and she tried to sneak in a couple of anecdotes that made my antennae quiver. I told her that her options were to delete the material or pay an attorney to vet the manuscript; any thoughtful editor would have done the same.

Part of the problem is that people read show business or political memoirs that are full of kiss-and-tell and derogatory opinion involving public personages, and they think they can sling the same sort of mud about the private individuals who figure in their own lives and get away with it. Umm, no. That’s not a wise thing to do.

A word to the wise, and all that.

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