Successful Women of Israel

History is the past. HERstory is the future.

The Problem with Writing About Family

A week and a half ago, one of Yahoo’s featured stories was that of Georgina Bloomberg’s new book.

Georgina Bloomberg is the youngest daughter of New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg and her new book provides insight into her life as the daughter of a very rich and powerful man.

Who cares?

If you’re a writer, you care. You care because your family has provided you with a wealth of material to write about. There’s only one problem. You’re too scared to write any of it for public viewing.

Gerald Durrel wrote a wonderful book called “My Family and Other Animals.” Had I chosen such a clever title for a book in which I disclose my family’s idiosyncrasies, it would not have gone over well. In fact, I probably would have been disowned.

I suppose some writers wouldn’t care one way or the other. But when you’re an Orthodox Jew and one of your obligations to your God and your parents is “honour thy father and mother” you can’t just write anything you want even if you know your readers will be in hysterics (unless of course you use a pseudonym and take painstaking measures to make sure they never ever ever find out).

Writing about your family can be a real problem if you’re a writer. What happens if your mother sees it. Or worse. Your uncle who farts a lot and who doesn’t like you very much. In fact he dislikes you so much that he would sue you just to see you defecate your nerves in the courtroom.

I’m telling you. Writing about family is problematic.

From the interview with Georgina Bloomberg quoted in Yahoo it seems as though she wasn’t aware of all the similarities between the book and her family. I wonder. I think she didn’t want to let on that she purposely disclosed her father’s personality and the mood of the home she grew up in. I think her statement is her way of protecting herself from her family’s ire.

But she did it, she fearlessly wrote about her family and good for her.

1 Comment

  1. I completely hear what you are saying about the honesty of writing especially when writing about your family. But what about the impact on them – when they are your children – not your parents? I would love to hear what you think about the book The Rabbi’s Daughter by Reva Mann. I was appalled by it. Forget her parents reading it, who if I recall were already deceased by the time she wrote her book. What about her children???? Let me know what you think! Keep writing… 🙂

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