I have abandoned the memoir project and feel better for it. To update other writers who may be considering entering this competition, some language in the rules concerned me enough to pull the plug on my not-progressing-anyway memoir. The first is that the memoir must be fully vetted by the entrant (you) for permissions from anyone who is mentioned in the work.
Ah, but my plan was to write it, and if by some miracle I became a finalist, I would then ask permission. My memoir takes place when I was 15-20, often homeless, shiftless, hungry. Just about everyone who made my life very difficult then is still alive. So…that solved my problem with what to write next. I do have this memoir, in a notebook, with many fictionalized stories of this fecund time in my life. Someday I’ll publish it, maybe, just not today.
But what if you have a memoir that wouldn’t hurt anyone else’s feelings at all? What if it’s an internal struggle, like victory over depression, or a medical issue, like winning the cancer war? Nobody’s going to sue you for libel on that account. However, there is more language that might stop you short. The sponsors claim every entry as their property, and further, they can use it any way they want to. This is amazing! I thought AARP was in the business of helping seniors, but the “unconditional, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to publish, use, adapt, edit and/or modify” a writer’s entry “without limitation, and without consideration to the entrant” seems very unfair to me.
And we don’t even get to be called writers, but “entrants” ~ I think that galls me the most. Anyway, my writing to-do list just got much shorter. And for that I’m thrilled. Not so thrilled that I need to find my way back to my WIP, but it’s time. My fingers have healed: the holidays are finished. It’s time to write.