I found an interesting post, More Literary Hoaxes, on Heather Goldsmith's blog, A Creative Journal. She discusses some of the current literary hoaxes, whereby writers have tried to pass off fictionalized accounts as memoir or autobiography.
I left a comment at Heather's blog, but thought I'd include my thoughts here. Since I write a great deal of memoir in my "Country Kitchen" newspaper column, I began to wonder if my readers would think I made all this up. I attended a writers' group the other evening, and when the discussion turned to memoir as a genre, many were shaking their heads, wondering what to believe anymore.
We begin to wonder what's true and what isn't, don't we? Of course, when you write about your life, you may find you don't recall incidents exactly like others who experienced them with you. But these usually are minor things. If you fictionalize too much, you'll be caught up on it sometime.
When I was taking a children's writing workshop, we had to write about an incident in our childhood. The instructor liked mine but gave suggestions for making it more exciting. Since those details were fabricated, I was uncomfortable about writing it this way. So he suggested I make it a fiction story, incorporating the fact with fabrication. This turned out very well and sold to several children's magazines and appeared in an anthology. (I retained the rights so I could sell reprint and anthology rights.) Fiction based upon fact can be fun to write, but it should be labeled as such.
What do you think?
(c)2008 Mary Emma Allen