What you should and shouldn't publish

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What you should and shouldn't publish

Thought this might be worth a discussion...


Hope the link works. I read Julie Myerson's 'Something might happen' (somebody left it at ours). It started as a whodunnit but it didn't have a resolution, which was annoying as I wouldn't have bothered ploughing through it otherwise - too full of self-importance.

I admit this may have coloured my opinion of her as a writer, but... what does everybody else think?

Tricky one, many Poets and Authors have no problem in announcing 'they f*ck you up, your mum and dad' in one way or another, I suppose she's of the opinion that kids do too. There's a whole section devoted to traumatic life stories in WHSmiths, so obviously a huge market for this and though I haven't read anything of her work other than the link, I can't say I'd be in a wild hurry to catch up on this kind of lit. ...but there is an argument that as a writer there should be no personal truth or experience you are afraid to approach for inspiration...tricky, what do you think?


What do I think lenchenelf? I think your ambivalence says something about the times but I'm not sure what.
Chuck, I would hope a willingness to foster open debate wouldn't be equated with any personally held opinion we may have, of where boundaries may lie :-)


Open debate would be great. It just seems to me as though nobody has any strong opinions on anything much these days. Except maybe Macjoyce. Even Bin Laden's latest communique seemed a bit on the wishy-washy side.
These people live near me. Skunk is so prevalent, I can't imagine ever bringing up children here. Always wary of a place described by the council as 'diverse' and 'vibrant'. These middle class self obsessed vegetarians end up with a steak eating skunk smoking son whose life is flogged in a book. They do f*ck you up your mum and dad, some more so than others. jude "Cacoethes scribendi" http://www.judesworld.net
That seems to be Dawkins main argument against religion... that it is part of the screw up you get from your parents.
"These middle class self obsessed vegetarians end up with a steak eating skunk smoking son whose life is flogged in a book." Yes, although it's the self-obsession that the biggest problem. The hilarious thing about this story has been the bizarre, unworldly, way that the liberal literati have rallied round. This, for example: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/mar/15/lost-child-julie-myerson Why not leave it Julie Myerson to do the judging? Well, one suggestion is because she decided to write a book about it.
I haven't read the book but it's obviously courageous of mum to air her dirty linen in public. It's her right after all and it will be enormously cathartic for parents with similar problems. As for the son....just another pothead for now. That stuff can make you really paranoid. If he gets through it OK he may enter the family business and write a book about her. She'll love it and they will be happily reconciled on television.
I agree with bukharinwasmyfavouritebolshevik; Julie Myerson is a bit of a narcissist (then again, can we think of a writer who isn't?). I also think what Julie Myerson has done is ensure that the only 'career' option open to her son is that of 'writer'.


The really ridiculous thing for me, though, is the idea - propagated by Julie M and backed up various literary chums - that she 'had to' write the book in an attempt to change her son's behaviour. It can only be because the people commentating are mostly professional self-obsessed writers themselves that so many of them have failed to challenge the utter preposterousness of this position. What Myerson is effectively claiming is that her heart-rending non-fiction prose will achieve what the combination of: the parenting skills of herself and her husband, the education service, health and drugs treatment services, family counselling, the forces of law & order, and the support of extended family, friends and wider society could not achieve between them. Just how good does she think her writing is?
Exactly – infuriating excuses. “You have to write the book you have to write.” Bollocks. If you feel the need to write about it, fine – that’s what diaries are for. She says she writes with a piece of her heart she has no control over. Bollocks. Which piece of her heart sent it to the publishers – or does she regularly wander around in a dreamlike state, uncontrollably submitting manuscripts. As to helping her son, he’d already read the entire manuscript – why would seeing it in Waterstones window make any difference (apart from the potential humiliation). Sure it will bring the subject of skunk to the fore, but there are other ways of doing that and they didn't seem exactly keen on the idea of donating some of the royalties to a campaign. Whatever the consequences, I'm pretty sure the greater good wasn't her motivation. Besides, as someone said, they're supposed to be looking after their own children first and foremost. She says she wouldn’t have published without her son's consent, but Jeez, not exactly overwhelming consent, was it? Even from her own words it was obvious that his was a weary acceptance of something he was neither happy about nor approved of. But hey, she’d been spewing details of her family life for public consumption for years. He presumably went for damage limitation by asking her to correct the worst bits of character assassination – that he’d been blasé about his girlfriend’s abortion and that he’d tried to get his brother into drugs. Going by the Guardian interview, however, it doesn’t appear as if those changes were made sufficiently, other than by adding the epilogue about their meeting. On the subject of the Guardian interview – catch the disdain re the son selling his side of the story to the press – what’s the difference between the two exactly? Why’s one form of publication more acceptable than the other? Fact is, Myerson was commissioned to write a book about Mary Yelloly. Seems to me, she couldn’t come up with the goods so wrote the book she could write (as opposed to the one she had to). ~ www.fabulousmother.co.uk
Great article, 2Lou, I only wish Myserson's books were as compelling. As a parent myself, I don't know how I would react given the difficulties she finds herself in. She is obviously desperate, trying anything she can think of, and relying on the one thing she (thinks she) can do well - write books. Good luck to her.
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