Feeling Insecure and Writing Wednesday…


June is another one of those months that seems to pull the rug out from under our feet.  It seems to be over before I give it a chance to start. I’ve been buried in my editing cave, trying to manage some DIY projects in the house, putting together fall schedules, marketing plans and juggling family stuff, while still grieving and the whole month my mind and body have been screaming for me to slow down and allow things to happen the way they are supposed to happen in June, slower.

My plan for July is to slow down and be conscious of each and every minute.

The first Wednesday of every month I participate in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. #IWSG.  This is one AMAZING group of talented, wanting to start writers, beginners, and professional authors. One of the many things we all have in common is our moments of extreme insecurity about our craft. Another is our gratitude and pay it forward attitudes when our confidence is soaring.

To find out more about the IWSG or to join us, visit:










I have also started ‘Writing Wednesday’s’ here. Every Wednesday I am going to share some of the things I have found that worked and some that didn’t work so well along my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. Being insecure at times is one thing I had to and still deal with in my writing. Learning to listen to other writers, taking their advice and learning to write through those insecurities is a must.

Writing Wednesdays

Typewriter envy










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I have run into a dilemma with The Stranger in My Recliner. It is the true story of Sophie, a homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She ended up staying with us for nearly three years.

I believe wholeheartedly that when you are telling a true story you should be 100% honest, unless that honesty could egregiously and irreparably hurt someone. Someone, that may or may not be completely innocent.

Sophie made me promise to tell her story. That story revolves around people in an anonymous group. I am not part of that group, so I didn’t give much thought to using their real names if they were part of Sophie’s world. Perhaps I even had an attitude or a bit of a grudge against a few of them.

My editor pointed out that grudges and revenge are not the best reasons for memoir. She suggested that I reach out and try to speak with a few of these people and try to get their side of the story, to balance things out a bit. I took that suggestion and decided to hit the research trail.

Writers Clock

I was feeling depressed and wondering if this book would ever reach, the end.  I was having trouble figuring out where to start to find these people.  I brought it up in my writers group. This group, Lower Bucks Creative Explorers (amazing group) meets an hour and fifteen minutes from my home. It is on the other side of Philadelphia in another county.

What are the chances that when I mention I have no idea where to start locating friends of Sophie’s in yet another area, the town of Glenolden, Pennsylvania that one of our members would say I have a new boyfriend and that is the town where he lives. Jokingly, I said call him and ask him if he knew Sophie. She did and yes, he knew Sophie and her family. We arranged an interview and he gave me information that facilitated more interviews and suddenly Sophie’s story began to breathe in a way I didn’t see coming.


Drawing on my journalism skills of being able to present both sides of a story in a fair and impartial way I have decided to only use the first names of the members of this particular anonymous group. That way they will recognize themselves in the story and others in ‘that’ group may even recognize them but outside of that, it doesn’t change the direction; the truth or the impact of Sophie’s story in any way.

I think I feel relieved by that decision and yet still a bit insecure.

Do you get frustrated when reading a true story knowing the author has changed the names and even sometimes the locations of the actual story?

Do you want to write a memoir but you are worried about angering or hurting someone?

Does knowing those changes were made distract you at all while you are reading, do you wonder what else is not actually true in the story?

Have a wonderful Holiday,


Writers rules poster


I would love to hang out with you here too:






34 Responses to “Feeling Insecure and Writing Wednesday…”

  • I love the idea of both a support group and sharing something about writing each week! I now have a really good reason to look forward to my Wednesday readings :)!

  • Don’t worry about changing the names of the characters. The story is what’s important not who’s called what “in real life”.

    How fortuitous that you found the direction to go from mentioning it in the writer’s group!

  • Hi, I’m late because I was flying home yesterday, not because I moved my IWSG post to WordPress. I think you were inspired. This story must need to be told, and you’re the one who needs to do it. Changing the names wouldn’t frustrate me unless I wanted to locate the people. You might end up getting more requests to help find someone that way than by using first names. The only reason to protect true names is the possibility of a lawsuit, and you mentioned journalism, so you already know that. Do whichever will cause you less trouble.

  • I love the idea of the Insecure Writers Support Group. So important and so necessary since we all feel that way sometimes. I don’t think I could write a memoir that had the potential to hurt people — it doesn’t bother me to know a writer changed names or locations if the story itself actually happened. Good luck, and can’t wait to read what you write.

    • The #IWSG is full of the most supportive and inspiring people. I am starting to see that most people do not mind if names are changed. In my first book I refused to change any name. I had a lot of hate directed at me because of that but for that story it was the right thing to do. This story is a bit different so I think it will be fine.

  • First of all, thank you for stopping by my blog yesterday and commenting!

    I love the title of your book. It’s very beautiful and, knowing now that it’s about a homeless woman you came to know, it paints a very vivid picture of what it must have been like when she first came into your life.

    When I took my nonfiction writing class in college, we had a big debate over writing the entire truth in a story or doing our best to present every story in a way that would not harm anyone involved. It’s a thin line and it’s one that must be reconsidered with every story told. I admire anyone who sets out to tell a true story. It’s got to be one tough job!


    • Thank you! I haven’t received much feedback on the title, you made me smile!
      I will be teaching a nonfiction class this fall. I am looking forward to the debates:)

  • The Stranger in My Recliner… I love the title.
    Sounds like memoir writing is a fragile form. Quite tricky. But probably very satisfying.

  • The Stranger in My Recliner sounds fascinating! And yes it is remarkable that someone in your reading group was able to help you with your research, but things like that can happen when you start reaching out for help. People can’t help if they don’t know what you need, right? I’m not bothered by small changes in fact to protect identities. In fact, I rather expect them.

  • Memoir, especially someone else’s, is a fragile thing. I think you have handled it well. It’s always nice, when reading someone’s story, to get the other side of it. I’m fine when writers change certain things — names, locations — in these types of books. Usually they say so in the Preface. Their reasons, as far as I can remember, have always been to protect the people involved. I think that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with the validity if the author is up front about it 🙂

  • LOVE your rules! My biggest downfall is editing WHILE I’m writing. I cant stop picking at certain sentences…and then it takes FOREVER to complete a post. Tweeting this!

  • Thanks for sharing Doreen. I think it is easy to feel insecure about our writing because you don’t get a lot of validation when you work in solitude. That’s why I am so grateful for technology. Blogging and online writing communities help me connect with like minded people who feel my pain and share in my triumphs. I’m definitely adding you to my follow list. I look forward to reading more from you.

  • I love your rules!!! And you go girl, on your project!

  • I’m so intrigued by the fact that you and your husband took in a homeless woman for three years. That’s a very big task, I’m so impressed that you took it on, you must both have very big and generous hearts. I think your plan for how to address the privacy of the people in the memoir makes good sense, best of luck with the book!

  • Those rules of writing are brilliant. Crappy first drafts? Check!

  • writing true stories is hard! it sounds like you have a great premise, though, keep pushing!

  • Interesting project……wishing you the best. As for the insecure thing…..I am sure many of us can relate in some form.

  • It certainly sounds like you have a lot on your plate.

    I actually blogged about this topic the other day. I have thought about writing a memoir, but I think I’ll stick with giving my past to my characters for now. 🙂

    Good luck with your project:)

  • Diane Burton:

    What an ambitious project, Doreen. I admire your wanting to interview so many people. It doesn’t bother me to read true stories where the “names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Does that quote date me???

    Best wishes on your project.

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