Sharpening the question of ethics.

I see myself as a fish in a stream; deflected; held in place; but cannot describe the stream. — Virginia Wolff

Back on track: today has been a day of productivity — I’ve rewritten my research question, received feedback for my memoir-ette (yep, it’s a thing) and begun planning my final piece and exegesis.

Last night I dreamt my supervisor, Francesca, led me into a huge crowd and announced to everyone that the 7000 words I’d sent her were rubbish, and that I needed to start over. She’d crossed out every word with red so no one else could read them. Needless to say, that was close to the worst outcome so after waking up this morning I was ready to face anything today. I had been unsure of my writing — writing about my experiences and writing about the writing of these had led me to question my own integrity and my decisions to explore this dangerous territory. Why did I want to subject myself to this? Why did I want to consider things I remember from a long time ago? Why hadn’t I moved on yet? What did this whole project say about me?

Fortunately I was met with a more positive response — Francesca reported that most of the work was really strong and that she could see the questions I was thinking through and exploring. I’ve now decided that I will publish pieces of my memoir online, as the question of ethics — and especially the ethics of publishing material about others — is something that continues to arise in my research. For example, ethical considerations lead me to filter what I’ve written in these blog posts.

I will be publishing pieces of this memoir in an online space over the coming weeks, and so they will be available for anyone to read. This publication process will form part of my research about the ethics of nonfiction writing.

The point I want to stress to those new to the memoir genre is that these pieces are told from my experience and recollections of events, and will always be slanted. They will be partial truths. I will change names where I feel this is needed, but I want to tell you that this is a story made of memories, not of facts. I have constructed these pieces, and I want to lead you through this process of construction. I want you to look closely for the fuzzy edges, notice the absences, question the veracity of my stories. I am exploring the limitations of telling these stories, the complexities of telling stories that don’t belong just to me.

 

 

 

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