(caution, there is swearing today because I'm all fired up)
Fuck these people. Don't listen to this kind of advice.
If you want to write a memoir, do it because you're compelled to do so. I wrote a memoir about surviving my husband's suicide and parenting small children through trauma. Guess what? I wasn't famous at the time. I was scared to death, though, to put my life on display. Why did I do it? Because I never wanted another young widow to feel so isolated and alone during the darkest time of her life. So I wrote it. I had never been so scared to publish anything in my life--and I'd been a professional writer for years! Not only was it well received, I have heard from people all over the world about the impact it made on their lives. If I had listened to all the naysayers in my life--and believe me there were plenty--I would have been too afraid to put myself out there.
As for watering down anything you're writing for the sake of someone else, I plead with you to do the opposite.
Creativity is a precious gift that we must honor for ourselves and for the sanctity of our profession. As a creative professional, you have only one obligation when writing your story--to stay true to your vision. Period. That's it.
I've been told by relatives that my romantic thrillers (mainstream) are "too dirty" to read and they "wonder" what I'm thinking while writing them. I usually laugh out of sheer shock because it seems like an absurd thing to say, but I never let this into my head while writing. (Thank goodness they don't know my pen name, that's all I can say.)
I urge you to keep the critics out of your mind while sitting at the keyboard. Write the story that's in your heart, make it the best it can be, choose your writing groups wisely, work with an editor who respects your vision, and put it out into the world to honor your personal truth.
Not everyone can write a story from beginning to end. It's a special ability to create. Sure, a lot of people have "ideas" that they love to share with those of us in the industry, but actually being brave enough to create is a whole other beast. If you're one of the courageous ones who opens their hearts to the world, yes, there will be naysayers in your midst. Ignore them. Tell them not to read your work because there's a fan base out there for all of us. (I encourage my relatives to stop stalking me if they're so concerned about my illicit ways...they stalk anyway.)
Guard your creative energy wisely. When you're alone at the keyboard, there is only one thing that matters: your story. If you have doubts about it and choose to go to an online writers' group for advice, be careful. I hate to say this, but some will try to deter you because of their own fears. Don't make their self-doubt yours. You must have an independent mind where you are open to feedback but not attached to it. If something resonates with you, understand why--is it giving you an excuse to quit, which is what you were looking for in the first place?
Your story might not be something I like, but that doesn't make it wrong. The same goes for your mother or your brother or your cousin or the neighbor down the street--who the hell cares? Be true to your creative spirit, write well, read books to hone your craft, stay focused on your story, surround yourself with at least a few like-minded people (they do exist, trust me) and tune out anyone who tries to deter you.
You have a gift. No one can tell your story the way you can. Hold your head high.
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.