On July 19th, just hours before I’d published even one word of Episode 1 of GINNED UP, I received a letter from an attorney. This attorney represents a person integral to my memoir.
The salient part read as follows: “If you publish or in any way promote false and defamatory statements or information of and concerning (my client), portray him in a false light in your publication, or otherwise invade his privacy, he will take legal action against you.”
Anne Lamott, a memoirist herself, has this to say:
You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
Anne Lamott’s sentiment seems to be threaded through with a touch of revenge and a taste of bitterness. My interest doesn’t reside in those places. The tapestry I will weave will be framed on a loom of curiosity and woven with fibers of my human psyche—then and now. My humility stands behind my invitation to you to participate in this community memoir.
But back to that letter: Being an attorney myself with a working knowledge of the laws relative to these sorts of matters, I am of the opinion that everything I will include in GINNED UP will not cross the line into actionable territory. However, I may from time to time need to seek a second opinion from a publishing attorney, who will likely need some time to examine the upcoming episode before I publish. I will keep you apprised, and I promise that I’ll put all subscriptions on hold if ever there is a delay due to this sort of second-level review.
Perversely enough, I’m really grateful for that letter. I’ve opted to channel the heart-pounding intimidation that I felt immediately after reading it into telling you all a story that is not only not actionable but also compelling in its dissection and analysis of the evolution of the human spirit.
But then yesterday, I received A SECOND LETTER (that’s two in eighteen days) from that same attorney.
This time around, the attorney asserts, “You place him at meetings which he did not attend. You attribute statements and actions to him which did not occur. You misrepresent and alter statements that he did make.”
I disagree with these assertions.
I have endeavored—and will continue to endeavor—to share my experiences to the best of recollection, relying on the manuscript I drafted in the spring of 2014.
Three and a half weeks ago, when I first shared with all of you my interest in this project, I did so with the humility that accompanies my awareness that my observations are mine alone. Never have I claimed to have a “lock” on every aspect of what happened during this period of time. To keep that humility in check, I have invited anyone whose observations differed from mine to share his/her/their own memories in the comment section after each episode.
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So, we’re clear, I’ll state this here:
GINNED UP is a memoir, a genre of writing that relies on my memories alone. This memoir is of the events that took place during the course of approximately one year in my life, starting in March 2013.
Over fifty-seven days in April, May, and June 2014, I reduced to writing a fictionalized version of this period of time. Although I refer to and draw from that original manuscript in the telling of GINNED UP, the original manuscript is merely a memory aid.
While I have ample documentation of the many written communications I had during this time, I did not walk around with either an audio or video recorder. Please note that the conversations in this memoir come from my recollections. The words spoken between people are not offered—nor should they be read—as a word-for-word transcript of words said to me or by me. Rather, I provide them in a way that evokes the feeling and meaning of what was said, and therefore, in all instances, the essence of the dialogue is accurate.
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Finally, for anyone who takes issue with the way I am recalling my own experiences (if that’s even existentially possible), I renew my invitation for your commentary to this “community memoir” in the comment section after each episode, or I might suggest that you write your own memoir.
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Again, I invite you all to participate. Subscriptions are $7.00/mo. or $70/yr. Payment is made at Substack–the platform where I am publishing my memoir in serial form–via credit card. You can cancel at anytime if you are not satisfied with your subscription. And the first (already published) three episodes are available to subscribers in the archives.
I am committed to telling this story in fewer than 52 weeks. (In the event that it’s not complete by July 18, 2022, I’ll comp every subscriber so that no one needs to renew.)
Here’s the link to subscribe: https://jennabrownson.substack.com/subscribe