You see, I'm an optimist. Some may say annoyingly so. I'm also an open book (no - the name of my blog is NOT a coincidence). And, I almost always assume the best.
Of course, these are good thing. Yet, even I know they can be dangerous. I've been taken advantage of before. I've lost because I've assumed the best and got the worst. So I knew I needed to be knowledgeable.
So, it was a no-brainer when I signed myself up for "It’s a Risky Business – Or How Not to End Up in a Thai Jail," presented by the amazing and EXTREMELY knowledgeable Deb Porter.
Here's the workshop description.
The pen may be mightier than the sword, but as with any weapon, it needs to be handled with care. In this session, Deb Porter will not only look at the responsibilities of the writer in this modern world of instant communication, but also highlight some of the risks and pitfalls writers may face if they let enthusiasm and passion run rampant over caution and wisdom.This one had my name on it - and it lived up to its title and description. It ended up being the most important, eye-opening, usable, needed session I attended during the two-day FaithWriters conference. It has already caused me to see my WIP with new eyes, and to consider every incident I describe in it in a different way.
I, like many, had assumed that if I just change folks' names, I can write just about anything I want. And who would go after little old me anyway? But it really isn't true. If someone can recognize themselves in your book, and you say something that is offensive, etc. about them, there can be legal consequences.
OH - and don't assume that just because something has been out there forever, and/or that everyone and their dog can recite it from memory, that you can put it in your book.
Deb summed up her session with two mantras:
If in doubt, leave it out.
If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.She reminded us that once a book is out there, it's out there forever. There is NO statute of limitations on what you say and/or write. So be very careful about what you discuss, whether it be about your family (if, of course, you want to be welcomed at family reunions), or, in my case, doctors or other professionals. You may think they'll never read it, never recognize themselves, or never try to sue, but don't count on it. Either get their permission, or cut it out.
And it's not just others' legal rights. As Christians, we also need to take their moral rights into account. We certainly do not need our character questioned, or to tarnish Christ's name through what we write.
As I read through my work in progress this time, I am looking for statements that could be taken the wrong way--and for anything that might make me an unwelcome guest at family reunions. I may not leave them all out - but I'll definitely be weighing my willingness to "do the time" as I contemplate whether to "do the crime."
I'll be back with more thoughts and recaps on the conference later. Praying this post was a benefit and blessing to you as well!