Jesus H Christ. I am learning that the worst part of writing a memoir is the abject terror it elicits in those close to you.
The breath-holding, bowel-knotting fear that my immediate family is suffering from is so extreme it's almost comical. It's a moral panic about how my memoir, 'One Way or Another' will be recieved by the world of readers. They really needn't worry about their own portrayals because they are just background scenery in my torrid tale. They are those gum trees over the fence at the back of the park at the bottom of page 11. But they don't know that, because I didn't let them read it. They have to line up and buy it like everyone else.
That might sound callous but you don't know my family. This book was always going to be a mega-drama because I have finally decided to peel off my mask and write an honest account of my youth. No family is terribly keen for one of their own to do that (unless they are all narcissistic extroverts or a Kardashian).
Memoirs are usually penned by that one renegade spotlight-hogger/mega drama queen/king that happens to a family once every few generations. Someone who wants to disembowel themselves emotionally for anyone and everyone to see. Publicly. Really, really publicly. So I guess a memoirist is really an exhibitionist and readers of memoirs are voyeurs.
And believe me conservative Queensland, Catholic families aren't all that comfortable about letting the exhibitionist out of the cellar.
That said, one of my sisters has read it and liked it - by the time she got to the end. It was a bit like a rollercoaster for her I guess - a terrifying ride that becomes fun as soon as the end is in sight because you know you've made it through alive. My mother is extremely, pristinely reserved and should not under any circumstance read my book because it would burst her bubble. She has been warned and I know her greatest fear (as felt by most mothers of reality writers) is how she is portrayed.....so I transcribed every reference to her from the book and gave her that...like a tiny, weeny little mini memoir with things only relating to her. It's a bit like taking out one character from a horror film, telling just that thread of story, and Shazam - suddenly it sounds like Cinderella. I thought that was an inspired idea of mine. She knows I've been gentle enough with her now and she doesn't have to know about the sex, the drugs and rock and roll.
My father is far more broad-minded about the whole thing. He's read Nikki Gemmell's books and is aware that her father is not one of her most avid readers. I'm not sure if Dad will tackle mine but I think it will only cause him some eye-rolling and deep blushing with a slight rash of mortification if he's brave enough to read it. And frankly, he can slam it shut at any page....But he has given me his blessing and support and says 'Go for it and bugger anyone who gives you grief for it!' GO DAD! There may be sex in my book but its M rated, not Krissy Kneen rated.
What the family must realise is that I am not a limb of their tree. I might be the skin sack that carries similar DNA and personality disorders but as a woman of 46, I am my own separate entity.
I'm sure friends and family will remember the era that my story is set in, differently. They all had wildly different vantage points but I have remained true to my truth. I stand by that. I've been gentle with those other characters of the past, recording only how they affected me without infusing them with any philosophy of their own. That would be their stories to tell.
My husband wonders if selling a book about my sex life is tantamount to prostitution and I counter that there is very little in this world that doesn't constitute a transaction of sorts.
There is a memoir in everyone. Many memoirs. Mine only spans six years of my forty-six. And yes, there is another to follow which charts the next ten. But it's a whacky genre. It's like intense therapy for the writer, his or her family and friends and the readers who may be disturbed by or relate to the story.
I feel stronger, braver and more liberated for having written it and that's a good thing. Right???