7. Permission to publish the diary

I had seen Stella six times and sharing my visit diary with Beverly. We had started talking about the possibility of a diary after the third visit. Before and after photos are very popular, but nowhere had we'd seen describes how to get from Before to After. Doing a diary would be our chance to do that.

We did not want to unsettle Stella or to make her feel that her confidentiality was under threat. Asking her was something that we thought about very carefully.

I had decided that if Stella’s special event in the previous week had gone well that I would ask her how she would feel about a diary over lunch, on my seventh visit:

"Beverly and I have learnt a great deal from working with you. What has been particularly interesting is how insightful you are about the process and how you see it. We would like to put up a diary on line so that other people can understand better how it all works and how much control they would have. Of course, we would not give away any personal details and you would have total editorial control. If there is anything you do not want included, out it goes!"

She listened carefully and said she would like to see a sample. That turned out to be harder than either Beverly or I had thought. There were several drafts and many weeks passed before we had something we were happy to show Stella.

She then spent a while thinking about it. To her it was important to have control over what was written, to be sure of anonymity and that the diary would be running several months after the event. At first she was worried about the possibility that knowing the diary was to be written would effect what she discussed with me.

Stella is a precise reader and has picked us up on errors and inconsistencies. She is keen to maintain the momentum for decluttering and has also liked being able to reach out to other people in her position.

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