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NAMW March Member Teleseminar
Judy L. Mandel
March 23, 2018
11 AM PST  | 12pm MST | 1pm CST  | 2pm EST

Most memoir writers struggle with the question of whether to expose family secrets and myths in their writing. Some family secrets may be integral to the work at hand, which may explain the origins of behavior or storyline. Some of our fears about betraying a family member by telling something we know they don’t want divulged can stop us from delving into the essence of the piece of our life we are exploring. Some of our own secrets are hidden even from us until we are deep into the writing project. How do we decide which details of our family, and individual secrets to include in our memoir? How do we deal with the fallout of that decision? When I wrote Replacement Child, my sister Linda was still living and I was worried that I was revealing too much about her injuries and her social challenges. My dilemma was, do I listen to some writers who told me to just write it and not consider her feelings? Also, do I write about something my mother never even admitted to me while she was alive, but that I have uncovered? Or do I protect her privacy in death?

In this session, I will talk about:

  • Critical elements of my own decisions to reveal family details in writing Replacement Child.
  • How to consider the benefit vs the damage of revealing family myths.
  • Bypassing your inner critic to free you to write a truthful memoir.
  • Analyzing the thesis and theme of your book to determine whether a particularly sensitive detail should be included.
  • How to deal with family and friends who are mentioned in your book.

Judy L. Mandel is the author of the New York Times Best SellerReplacement Childa memoir, [Seal Press 2013). She is a writing coach, teacher, freelance editor and senior editor at Kaylie Jones Books. Judy’s essays, articles and short stories have appeared in Kveller.com, 34th Parallel, The Tishman Review, Connecticut LIFE, ASJA Monthly, Complete Wellbeing Magazine, Connecticut Authors and Publishers Magazine, The Southampton Review and other publications.



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