I was writing a blog post about 'textationships' or virtual, text-based relationships. I wrote this section, then decided to put it into its own blog post, as I'd gone off on a tangent. Tangents is part of my creative process.
It's not possible to write memoir without other people being mentioned in it. Otherwise, memoirs would be a very self-indulgent and quite boring account, unless they stay vague and superficial. Or else go off into fantasyland, which then makes it more likely to go into fiction territory.
I am currently writing a memoir, Bipolar Courage: are you sure you're not autistic? My personal goal is to self-publish it by September 2023. I felt confident with that goal, as I've already self-published two books and I am in the final laps. The memoir is mostly about online interactions and relationships, mainly focussed on an autistic guy, Maxwell.
Given that I am sharing some relevant private material in my storytelling, I am taking care to disguise people and also taking care to filter out anything that might be too embarrassing, if it does get gossiped about (like my first memoir was). I like depth, so full abstraction isn't going to cut it, for what I want to write about (the gritty relationship stuff).
One of the characters in the story, whom I have called Auryn, gave me a suggestion to help me to do problem-solve how to tell my story while trying to avoid more socia media drama. He said he's happy to be in the book so long as his country isn't mentioned.
That actually gave me the idea to do this with all of the characters. I haven't stated which country, nationality, identifying family details, occupation or even what people look like. I'm even being vague about political views. I think it's quite unusual to do this in a book. A bonus side-effect of doing this, is I haven't wasted time on trying to describe what people look like etc and get straight in with the story. A story is like a painting, with contrast of dark and light and highlighting what I choose to.
It's not obvious to random strangers who anyone in my book is. Some in certain circles might have a guess. I've never said publicly who any of the characters are. I spoke to my psychologist about it and she said the way I've chosen to do this, anyone would have to put their hand up to say they're in it, even if they blab who else is in it. They'd also have to put their hand up to accuse me of being a liar.
No one can lie, with the clinicially significant cognitive impairments that I do, with the degree of consistency I have. Pet Purpose was challenging, as I had fiction components. Bipolar Courage has the challenge of what to filter out and leave in, to effectively tell the story that I want to.
To sue me, my detractors would have to prove that's it's libel (it's not). I deliberately left out easily identifiable features. Suing from another country is difficult and expensive. All for their little social media 'reputations' (reputation is fake public image). It's actually me who is most vulnerable in all my books and my blogs.
Bipolar Courage: are you sure you're not autistic? is an unconventional love-story and I hope readers see it as emotionally real as I did. Also, with some distance, I hope that I've made the story entertaining. I've been told that I take people on an emotional rollercoaster and I think I've done that, with some unexpected twists and turns with some things I thought were funny (they weren't necessarily at the time).
I decided to write this book as memoir, even though I like to blur the boundaries a little, because it's what happened, from my perspective, behind-the-scenes during my advocacy journey, as Bipolar Courage. It's not semi-autobiographical fiction, like my first novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice, yet it's still creative writing. Pet Purpose is a mixture of memoir and fiction blended, so that even my friends and family can't be sure. All the characters in Pet Purpose are composite characters, for disguise and efficiency.
I've paraphrased what people said for efficiency, clarity and to help disguise more any distinctive speech, in the Bipolar Courage memoir. Whereas in Pet Purpose, I actually quoted exactly what a psychiatrist said (who bought my book), yet disguised his appearance and nationality. So, both memoir and fiction can have honesty and disguise elements.
Disguise is needed for my protection as a writer plus to respect the privacy of others. Protection of myself from being sued, further cyberbullying etc. Privacy of others because I was entrusted some information that I don't want easily identifiable, so they can live their lives freely. Yet, that information also affected me and I want to tell my story.
Basically, if you don't want to end up in a book, song, or other artwork, don't date or befriend a creative person (yes, I know we are more interesting and exciting, even though some of us are a bit crazy). Ethical artists will disguise to respect another's privacy.
I'm currently writing the last chapter of Bipolar Courage, chapter 31, 'End of an era', which is kind of just winding up the story and my advocacy journey. After I complete the memoir, I want to get back to a novel, Soar Purpose, and explore more fiction territory than my first novel. It's a sequel to Pet Purpose.
My vision is four books total about relationships with disabilities. All linked yet separate stories. Then, after that, who knows?
My books read very differently to my blog posts. My blog posts are wanting to express an idea that day or over a few days, minimally edited. I go over my books again and again, rewriting and editing. Way more than my blog posts.
My books have a storyline. Bipolar Courage is my most emotionally vulnerable piece of writing to date. Also my best effort since Pet Purpose. My first memoir, Bipolar Cringe, was actually written before Pet Purpose.
The main reason I published Bipolar Cringe, despite the vulnerablity in other ways, was it was my state of mind before medication and therapy. It's a perspective from a vulnerable person, in denial. That book was attacked by activists, who preach inclusivity yet are hypocrites and bullies.
I expect all four of my books will be completely different, even though they are linked. Reflecting different stages of my journey. I also currently like to write about relationship drama and I can't make the stuff up that happened, so I may as well use it in my stories, with disguise elements for other people's privacy, of course.
Writing something more complex than a blog is very challenging. Which is one of the reasons I do it. I also like the variety of expressing myself in different artistic modalities. I don't really like the perfectionism stage though, of the final editing and proof-reading. That's just tedious technical stuff, not longer being creative. It's like varnishing and attaching a wire on a painting. It's important for finishing off for displaying one's work but there's nothing very creative about it.
I started a book on a tangent, a while back, that I might get back to one day. It's about how to go about writing your story (spoiler: there's no one way) and how to self-publish. I only go back to complete a project I've tangented from, if it's meaningful enough for me, and also might be helpful for others. We'll see.
Disclaimer: the author of this blog is not an expert by profession and her opinions should not be taken as expert advice.