Thursday, 5 March 2009

Publishing and dirty laundry

Today is World Book Day.
I had always thought that it was held on 23rd April - Shakespeare’s birthday, St. George’s day and no doubt many other things celebrated but it seems it’s a “moveable feast” in this country and varies.

After weeks of reading, but little writing (apart from in my head) I promised myself that I would devote today to some serious writing on one of the many projects I have in process, specifically the follow up to “Crossing Borders”. But I am in a moral dilemma, which is this:
When is it acceptable to publish autobiographically about situations and family life, and at which point does it become airing your dirty laundry in public ?

Julie Myerson, a novelist and columnist has published a book which tells of her family life, and includes details of her son (allegedly) smoking a “spliff”. The debate about this is whether this is a mother betraying her family and making money in the process or is it perfectly feasible for anyone to tell their own story and that of other's, after all, this is what writers do.


Of course, Myerson is not unique in her story telling. Many people have written of their own unhappy childhood, their children's or partner’s, or their own struggle with alcohol, drugs, illness or financial circumstances and the effect on the family. The argument that making money from broadcasting intimate details of your life is a very topical one. But I have a feeling that this type of book is not a real money maker (unless you are recognised as a “celeb” of the moment) and suggest that in many instances the author has written because they feel their story needs to be told and may be empathised with by others who have experienced similar circumstances.

Naïve ? Perhaps.
Whatever the author’s decision, it is a personal view and a personal opinion on right versus wrong.
(But I wouldn’t mind other people’s thoughts on this !)