When I started this blog my intent was to begin building a reader base and to also write a book about the events that surrounded my husband and I attempting to foster and adopt our granddaughters. We were denied contact, denied the ability to foster, DHS fought the recommendation in our favor on adopting the oldest child, and the girls were eventually adopted out to strangers, not family. I wrote about it in Attempted Adoption: An Emotional Whirlwind three years ago.
I also began a memoir at the same time about the events surrounding that time in our life. I got the first draft of the first four chapters written and then my life turned into a turmoil and I sat it aside. I have had it tumbling around in my brain and do want to get back into the writing.
At the time I was working on those first four chapters I knew something didn’t seem right but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I have just completed reading The Truth of Memoir by Kerry Cohen and now know what was wrong. I was writing when I was still angry at what happened. If you write from an angry/frustrated viewpoint you do not treat the people in your book fairly. I wanted to get back at Child Protective Services, Department of Human Services, Michigan Children’s Institute, the guardian ad litem, the judge…everyone who had a part in denying us our grandchildren. There were other people who also frustrated me, such as my son’s ex-wife who was addicted to pain killers, which played a roll in the children being taken, and my son who was caught doing home invasions and went to prison for a lengthy enough period of time that his parental rights would be terminated.
When I started the book I felt it important to tell our story, to help people realize that this is a corrupt system and it is a nationwide problem. At the same time I was out to make those I felt treated us unfairly look bad. While their behavior may have been deplorable, I still need to treat them with fairness in the book, meaning I need to stress that it is my viewpoint. I also need to make allowances for the fact that these people were doing their job, and recognize that it can be a pretty horrid job to be involved in. While emotion is important to a memoir, so is understanding and fairness.
So what do I do now? I pick up where I left off and keep on writing. When I have completed the first draft I will go back and re-work, edit, and tweak every chapter. From a legal standpoint I have to determine for which persons I will use real names and which people will have their name changed. As I work my way through the writing and editing process I may on occasion share a small section here as a post.
My brick wall was life, but in the end it was a good wall to hit when it came to my writing. I have had time to process the events now. While I may not agree with the process and outcome, I can now deal more fairly with each person in my memoir. The benefit of hitting that wall is that my writing will now be better because of it.