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What if family object to being written about?

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    Baileybearposted 6 years ago

    I've written some hubs that my family find confronting eg my latest ones about deconverting from christianity and death from an atheist's perspective. My mother sent a ranting emotional email basically telling me it was garbage, accusing me of being unforgiving, bitter etc and not to make reference to them.

    I actually tried as much as possible not to identify my parents, but in the death hub, I identified my mother where she pressured me to view a dead body (and therefore might paint her in an unfavourable light).  I feel this part was to important to leave out.

    I am not bitter, twisted etc as she claims.  I am being honest, and they can't handle that.  I actually took care to make sure they weren't identified in a lot of situations.

    I write memoir - about my experiences and observations, including human nature. 

    Writers can write about family despite their objections?  I save my hubs that they really can't handle and I can be more brutally honest for another account

    1. IdiditAlready profile image59
      IdiditAlreadyposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Honesty is therapeutic.  I would say, they should not say or do things they don't want you to share. 

      Your a writter.  Write.

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        Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        thanks - I have been finding it therapeutic and I know I haven't written from a bitter place.  My mother is very controlling and can't accept that I reject her belief system

    2. Jaggedfrost profile image87
      Jaggedfrostposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I find that writing about people directly usually is a form of ad hominid that usually reflects inappropriately on everyone.  If you want to make a sketch of someone who is close to you perhaps you aught to study them dispassionately and then completely fictionalize a character based on the original. If you don't go out of your way to villinize them most people close to you are often more flattered then not that they are a subject or muse for your writing.

      1. SuziGravenstuk profile image60
        SuziGravenstukposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        I agree with JF. Ask me how I know and I will write a new Hub:-)

        *Would you want someone writing about you in a publicly identifiable way without giving you a chance to give your side, from your point of view?

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      Baileybearposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      following up on this - I got several ranting emails - my mother thought I was going to kill myself because I wrote a hub on death etc. 

      Just recently she's had a change of heart, apparently from reading all the comments on my ex-christian hub.  She apologised for accusing me of having 'stinkin thinking' and admitted that I am a grown woman and am entitled to believe what I want to believe.  She said that many of her family don't believe, and they are still family.

      She said something about how my writing seems to help others.

      Haven't talked to her yet, but she's sounding less reactive about it.

  2. Karanda profile image84
    Karandaposted 6 years ago

    In an ideal world, family will be the first to stand up and congratulate your achievements instead of focusing on the negative reflections of their personalities. For a writer to truly express themselves there is always going to be feedback from those they are writing about unless they write under a pseudonym or in fictional tones.

    Your recent hub did not come across as bitter but simply an honest approach to how you view death. It won't sit well with a lot of people but you knew that when you wrote it. I admire your courage to be so open and did not see any of it as reflecting badly on your family. They have their beliefs, you have yours.

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      Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      None of my hubs were written out of bitterness.  My family are very religious and have accused me for years of things I am not - mainly my mother - I've been accused of attention-seeking & unsafe because I use real photos; apparently my brain is rotten, I can't forgive and forget, I'm going to hell and other garbage.

      I've gottten used to the fact that for my own sanity I can't be close to them - our relationship lacks depth and we live far away (partly so my son doesn't get poisoned by their beliefs that arise from fear).

      It is my way to write about these things that shaped me - good or bad.

      The religious ones were very brave to put there (I usually put the ones that would freak them out too much on another account).  But I decided they may as well know how I feel (took them a few weeks to find out via my link on facebook - christians they know)

      I'm having a bit of a vent - I guess I find it sad that people reject their own family if they don't hold onto their cultish beliefs

  3. skyfire profile image74
    skyfireposted 6 years ago

    Writing under anonymous alias is always a good way to put your views on the internet. There are countless cases on internet (and on hubpages) where few writers who used their real identity to express their views are harassed in online as well as offline life. In your case you are involved into family issue so you need some friends to stand up for you when your parents oppose you. At the end of the day, your family (and you) should keep religious talks limited because life is more than religion and rationality.

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      Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I guess I felt it was time to let them find out how I really felt - telling them directly over the years was a futile exercise. I agree that discussing religion is best to stay a no-go zone.  Thing is religion is so much my mother's life that there is nothing else much to talk about.
      I didn't directly send my hubs to them - I knew they would find out via the grape-vine and she asked to read them.  I said I didn't want to talk about it until read, digested, etc.  Received a big emotional rant as per usual.   It doesn't upset me as much as it used to.

      1. couturepopcafe profile image60
        couturepopcafeposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        If you decided to let them find out how I really felt then you need to simply stand by your convictions.  Without reading the memoir hub, I can tell you this - based on your OP, you are probably holding resentment which you have not identified.  Writing your memoir will release a lot more than you may have bargained for, both from your family and yourself.  Memoir writing is a brave endeavor and must be tread both considerately and honestly. 

        Copy your OP into an email to your mother.  She will learn alot about herself and her daughter after she gets over the pain of guilt.

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          Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          I've been accused of holding onto hurt and being unforgiving by revisiting things.  From my experience, sweeping things under the carpet and pretend they didn't happen is unhealthy.  I am 95% over the hurt, and I am not bitter.  Writing about them for me takes care of the other 5%

          1. couturepopcafe profile image60
            couturepopcafeposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            I love you, BB.

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              Baileybearposted 5 years ago in reply to this

              thankyou couture smile

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      CollBposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      It is a grey  area and there isn't a right or wrong way to write articles that include family members.  Out of respect for my family's wishes, I don't mention their names and instead use terms like, 'a family member'.

      I think the reason why my family doesn't like to be mentioned is that they don't like the idea of total strangers reading about them.  Others don't mind and I find people tend to fall into two categories and in between.

      Some are publicity-shy and others really like the idea of having something written about them.

      I wish to keep the peace in my family and still speak to family members hence I just write of subjects I know that doesn't involve family or friends (for that matter).

      However, it is personal preference and choice and if it feels right for you to write about family members, it is a choice that you have decided to take.

  4. aguasilver profile image86
    aguasilverposted 6 years ago

    Family is family, we can chose our friends... but not our family.

    It is wrong that your family attack you for venting your anger and views in the open, especially as believers they should stand for transparency in all things.

    During the time my son was 'out' of faith (in reality he had not then started in faith) I supported him 100%.... he's my son and whatever he does will not change that, nor how I love him.

    By leaving personal opinions aside and the door open, he was able to find his own path without obstruction, and found his way back 'home'.

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      Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      yep, can't pick our families.

      both my husband's family and my family are dysfunctional.  My husband's sister who disowned us for 5 years has finally realised that yes the family is dysfunctional and it was time to grow up (she hated me for no reason I could see except my personality style - serious, straight-up etc).

      I don't expect to be best friends, but I do think families can at least be civil to each other

  5. SpanStar profile image60
    SpanStarposted 6 years ago

    This is an interesting question.  At first I thought it would be simple to answer but now I don't.

    Writing brings about an interesting view because if some event occurred between the subject/character and the writer then when the character reads that segment even though their name is left out they still recognize they are the subject however if someone who isn't aware of this experience can stand next to the subject and not know they are the target of this writing.

    Serious writing is what it is the question for me become how much does one care about what they write as it relates to the subject/person they're writing about?  Sometimes we write without meaning to hurt but upon reflecting find maybe we could have written that better.

    It's still and interesting question...

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      Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I know my mother would have recognised herself in many places, even though I was very general.  I basically summarised the kinds of things that were said to me (and were very damaging). 

      It has been years since all that happened, and I felt objective enough to write about it. 

      Guess I want to know is - do family have a "right" not to be written about? 

      I don't want to make it fiction, as it takes away the strength of what I write.  I don't want to write to please them, as we have opposite values and views on many things.

      1. Karanda profile image84
        Karandaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Family can, most certainly object to what you are writing but, no, they do not have the right to restrict what you say.

        According to the Freedom of Speech act in Australia

        http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-austra … eedoms.htm

        you can basically say, privately or publicly, whatever you choose to say. But they do stress, 'Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others'.

        Baileybear, if you want to write on topics that are confrontational then you will have others criticising what you are writing. This does not detract from your content or message. Finding a happy medium between your honesty and your family's concerns will not be easy but may be achievable if both parties respect each other's views and work from there.

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          Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          my ex-christian hub is my fastest read hub - it should be my no.1 hub by tomorrow - wrote less than 2 wks ago.  There have been fights between people leaving comments - I've already deleted 30-odd comments because people were attacking each other.   But I've had more supportive comments than attacking ones.
          I want to leave my comments about family in there - I didn't say awful things about them - was being frank and honest about it. 
          Oh, well, if need to write the real nitty-gritty thinks that would give them multiple heart attacks, will have to continue to use my other account

          1. Karanda profile image84
            Karandaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            Now you know, I must have some sign as to how to access that other account, if that is going to be the true story, that's the one I'd rather read. I can't see the point in writing about stuff that isn't real. That's where the passion lies and that's what comes out in our writing. Having said that, I too have another profile under my real name reserved for the personal stuff.

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              Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              ha ha  I will email you the name

  6. Rafini profile image81
    Rafiniposted 6 years ago

    Baileybear, I think a good way to look at it is this:

    If you're willing to write on controversial subjects you must also be willing to suffer the consequences.

    What you wrote may not be universally controversial, but it appears to be within the family.  I think once you understand that your writing will potentially cause controversy it would then be easier to deal with anyone involved who'd be offended by it. 

    In other words, be proactive and don't publish anything you aren't prepared to defend or suffer the consequences for.

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      Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Oh, believe me, I've been "suffering the consequences" for years, and yes, I'm prepared to defend what I wrote, but I can't be bothered arguing with my mother as she has her rigidly held beliefs.

      I put these particular ones on my main site as  "coming out" - I knew they had access to them, but I didn't tell them to read them.

  7. Tirzah Laughs profile image86
    Tirzah Laughsposted 6 years ago

    Why tell them?  That's your first mistake. 

    I publish under my pen name and I never name names if I mentino my family.  Since they rarely ask what I'm working on or if I'm writing, they don't know. 

    Since it doesn't have my 'birth' name on it, people don't find it by accident.

    But I know my family is hyperactive about anything like that so I just don't make it an issue.

    Don't keep sharing with them.  What I've found is that my family just finds way to bring me down, not help me.  Not everyone is going to get support from their genetic contributors.  That's just the way it is.

    1. Rafini profile image81
      Rafiniposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      genetic contributors - I like that!!  I'm gonna hafta remember that one....big_smile

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        Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        yeah, that's a good one

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      Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      no real names are mentioned & I have pen-name.  I weighed up which site to put it under, and decided that why should I keep denying who I am to keep them "happy".  It must be a bit like a homosexual "coming out".  It is not my ideal for them to read just how atheist I have become, but because they have never been receptive, just launch attacks, they can read it just like anyone else

  8. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 6 years ago

    Personally I would not be keen on my family members writing mixed and even negative stuff about me on the internet for everyone to see (and for them to earn some money...).  If you want to do that I would suggest using made up names for yourself and for them.  Personal freedom is a great thing, but so is a mutually respectful relationship with your family.

    1. Tirzah Laughs profile image86
      Tirzah Laughsposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I don't publish under my name but my established pen name which I use for everything.

      But my mother's mental health issues are a part of who I am and do influence my writing.  I can't erase her from any personal writings without lying.  I can remove her name and I can talk about it under my pseudonym so that it doesn't effect her life.  She'll go on with her life, none the wiser and I'll be able to be honest.

      And if I let my family list what I could write about, I'd only be able to write about straight white conservative kitten statues but only if my one aunt who is freaked about cats doesn't know.   They are alway worried about what the Jones think.   I don't really care but I'm willing to pub it under my pen name to give them peace of mind.

      But I also don't invite them to read my writing, fiction or non-fiction and they aren't all that interested in it.    So it's been a non-problem.  I'm not sure most of them remember I write and I've published poetry in magazines here and there.

      My life is only as important to them if it effects their life.   If my life isn't making waves, they ignore it.  It's a happy medium for me.

      smile  Just my thoughts.

      You can't completely edit what you say to make your friends and family happy or you'd be generic.  But you can put a cushion between you and them.

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        Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        yes, that's why I have another site to be very honest about stuff they wouldn't be able to understand.  I weighed up whether to put this stuff here or there, and decided that it was time they find out

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      Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      think is, I don't have a mutual respectful relationship with my family - I've been blamed, attacked  etc for years.  I wrote this after 90% of the hurt had extinguished.  One of my sisters can see where I am coming from.  My mother cannot - she sees what she wants to see and will argue, even if she has her facts completely wrong

  9. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 6 years ago

    But you said you wrote about her mother in a way that would identify her?  IMHO if you use a pen name for you and a false name for her, and keeo these to yourself... then nobody in the wider community will know.  Better yet, dont tell her either....

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      Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I use a pen name but use real photos (on my main site).  I don't use real photos or any identifying factors on my more anonymous site, and no-one knows the profile name.  I just said "my parents" or "my mother" in one or two places where it was essential.

      There are lots of christians from my past on my facebook.  I link my hubs there.  Apparently my mother got phoned by christians.  From my mothers rants back, it seems she is more concerned with what christians that know her might think of her, plus I think she recognised herself in lots of places where I did not identify her (by identify her, a person that knows me and knows my account and knows my mother will know).

      1. Druid Dude profile image59
        Druid Dudeposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        One writer's method besides changing names of those involved, is to hide the true nature of the subject by changing elements of their personality.

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          Baileybearposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          but that would be writing fiction, and would take the strength away from the honesty in memoir I write. Plus I don't get to really address issues if I have to keep disguising them or side-stepping them.  Lots of "fiction" is loosely disguised memoir - it just doesn't work

  10. Jaggedfrost profile image87
    Jaggedfrostposted 6 years ago

    I wish I could be in as healthy a place where that is concerned. Those who would take issue with such characterizations were they to understand that I intend or ever intended to write about them are those who pretend it didn't happen and whom I have gotten over things to the point that I can speak of it without getting angry but I cant write about it.  something about it always ends up going wrong or I feel it too deeply or end up reliving it.  I am not sure if there is even a solution to it.

    1. Lisa HW profile image84
      Lisa HWposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Jaggedfrost, I think you may be right about "no solution", and I'm not even sure what's healthy and what isn't.  I don't write anything that I haven't already talked about to people who know me, which means I never right about the things I wouldn't say to them (out of not wanting to either anger them, hurt them, or else get them just thinking that I'm the one with a problem).

      People either pretend some thing didn't happen, or else think whatever happened was for good reason, and right; and the fact that you have a problem with it "only shows" you're the one who is "off".  In other words, they refuse to acknowledge that whatever went on was wrong.

      I had been thinking it might make me feel better to write about the real heart of the matter, rather than writing around it and leaving a lot of nitty-gritty that involves some people out.

      After going for a long time, thinking there was something I'd like to write about, I now realize I don't want/need to write about those heart-of-the-matter things.   It's not using up more of my words or words in thought that I want/need to do.  What I want/need is to get some words back from certain people.    I need them to acknowledge what happened, address the matter, and at least say something that hints that they now see how I was "wronged".  I don't even need an apology from some of these people.  I understand that people do things because they don't know any better; and although, with some of them, I'd be happy to destroy their lives as revenge; with others, I don't want to hurt them or make them wallow in apologizing.   All I need/want is to hear back that they acknowledge the wrong and now see/think differently.

      Well, as far as I can tell, that isn't going to happen unless someone "from outside" tells them I'm right in feeling wronged.  It's also not going to happen (in some cases) even if someone from outside told them that, because then they'll just be too uncomfortable to address it to my face anyway.  Why?   Because even if an outsider told them they were wrong, some of the people involved would not be willing to "give me"  the "position" of being "righter" than they are.

      So, I just live with knowing I won't be getting any closure or any satisfaction from the people I need it from.    One way or another, when people take it upon themselves to do something that is hurtful to you or your life, they're the same people who are going to continue acting/doing the same kind of stuff (which always amounts to you getting to keep your problems and gripes inside and never "getting the better" of whoever did whatever it was).    mad

      There's a kind of thinking that goes into wronging someone, and that thinking doesn't change.    One way or another, "all signs point to" the victim being driven into the closet and shutting up.  I guess the answer is learn that you're never going to get what you need/want from some people, and work around it.   hmm

      1. EmpressFelicity profile image83
        EmpressFelicityposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        I agree with this - there are certain members of my family who fit very much into this category.  "Gosh, if I acknowledge that EF hasn't been treated fairly, then I'd have to examine my actions and admit that they were less than charitable, and moreover that these actions don't reflect well on me as a person.  And that would never do would it?"

  11. evvy_09 profile image86
    evvy_09posted 6 years ago

    I would just keep writing. My opinion is that how people feel is really their problem.  Do what you do with no guilt or regrets because otherwise you just stand still in life.

  12. timorous profile image92
    timorousposted 6 years ago

    I think part of the problem, if not the main one, is that many people are closed-minded, and refuse to acknowledge that their views are not the only ones possible, and rigidly dismiss any other views.  It's very difficult to get such people to see past their own egos. (Read Cagsil's hubs on the subject)

    In many cases, these people don't even know themselves or exactly why they hold these views.  It's a character failing.  We were all born with a clean slate, and open to learning all that we can.  Somewhere along the way, some allow themselves to become swayed by ideas that seem to fit their personality, and stick to them, however ill-conceived they are.

    We all process information differently, and place importance on different things.  You have to be careful not to place too much importance on any given situation.  Not everyone will agree with you, no matter what.  You just need to be open-minded enough to live and let live.

    As a couple of our fellow Hubbers (katiem2, and earnestshub) mentioned in other forum threads: "other peoples opinions of me are none of my business".

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      Baileybearposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      very true.  I had a christian contact me thru facebook after I posted the ex-christian hub (as "coming out").  She said she was shocked and asked lots of questions, wondering if I was not genuine in that phase of my life.  I've always been genuine, but back then, I was a puppet doing what others expected of me (especially my parents).  I was quite blown away by her attempt to try and understand, but then she summed it up saying that it's so sad that satan has got hold of me and made me not believe in god anymore.  I didn't bother replying - what was I supposed to say?

      1. timorous profile image92
        timorousposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Nothing neutral

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          Baileybearposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          exactlly, because otherwise, it would hurt her feelings and be a pointless arguement.  My family are asking numerous questions in the same way now - but again, I think it will be pointless to try and answer, as they are so reactive

  13. Jaggedfrost profile image87
    Jaggedfrostposted 5 years ago

    The question for me after all of my quandaries, which I haven't completely solved for, is whether something I am describing actually will benefit my readers to know the details of.   While misery loves company, I haven't found many venues where the details of a tragic past have been more effective in object lessons then a euphemism and a speaking silence as well as a bit of eye contact.  In writing, I have found similar devices for expressing such things that seem a lot more effective then pointing fingers over things that no one involved but me cares to remember.

    1. Pcunix profile image90
      Pcunixposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      My problem comes more from my wife correcting me about dates and sometimes correcting me on a muddled memory.

      In response, I point out that the dates aren't really the critical issue and that I am always driving at some specific idea so precise accuracy (assuming her memory is the correct one, which may not be true) isn't necessarily important either.

      However, she is the Dali Booperator, so sometimes I have to go back for rewrites smile

  14. Jaggedfrost profile image87
    Jaggedfrostposted 5 years ago

    yeah, I find myself beholden to my wife's opinion as well though she usually doesn't bother to read my work.  She usually tells me that there is time enough for that when I have a complete manuscript.

  15. Tony DeLorger profile image83
    Tony DeLorgerposted 5 years ago

    Writing is such a cathartic experience, a wonderful outlet for the writer. The subject matter can sometimes ruffle a few feathers and I have in the past avoided confrontation by depersonalising the writing. I have written a complete novel about my life and changed all the names to protect myself, considering what some people have donbe to me. It is presented as fiction and I've not had one person question it.

    I think it's a writer's right to impart the truth in his work, regardless of how it affects people. Once you have taken care of yourself legally, (making sure you can't be sued) it is then time to decide who will be hurt by the truth. This can only be your decision- sometimes it's just not worth it to create rifts with family. Either wait until they pass or wirite a book and change all the names to protect yourself. Good Luck.

  16. Mighty Mom profile image92
    Mighty Momposted 5 years ago

    Well said, Tony DeLorger.
    Although I have to comment on your comment "sometimes it's just not worth it to create rifts with family."
    In my case, the rifts with family have provided me with some of my best material lol

  17. QudsiaP1 profile image61
    QudsiaP1posted 5 years ago

    Honestly, even though no family member would wish to be defamed but sometimes it is crucial for a writer to express.

    So express all you please however, disguise your family in a veil only they can unveil. I too know several people who would object to my writing about them but then again, the way I write about them serves a dual purpose. Amongst veils it reveals their inner beast and yet no one can ever comprehend for whom did I write exactly what.

    Do not let any one tell you what you write is garbage. Writing is therapy; a release for all that you suffered. Allow your words to flow and with it you will find those scarred wound can actually begin to heal.

  18. wheelinallover profile image81
    wheelinalloverposted 5 years ago

    I also write about my family, always in a good light because the bad is for the most part gone from my memory. Both my parents, all my grand parents, two siblings and a son are gone now.
    My first experience with dealing with a human death was at age twelve. The one who had died had made a difference in my life while he was alive and also with his death. I had made the choice to see this person and no one objected. I had been dealing with animal deaths for a few years by then, so it really didn't affect me as much as it could have. I was taught as a child not to speak ill of the dead, not in English but the meaning was the same. It's just part of me now.