Top Menu


Monday Focus: Don’t fib or stretch the truth.

Today is Monday, and it’s a great day to write a bit on your memoir!

This must-do memoir-writing task asks: how much do you really know and do you have to tell everything you know? That is the challenge of writing the truth.

Memory is often false, flattering, and failing. This makes telling the truth harder than it might have seemed firsthand.

~ You may never have known the truth. From the get-go, you may have been guessing. Guessing is sometimes necessary and has its rightful place in memoir writing but guess as little as possible and as a last resort.

~ You may want to nurture the truth so as to come out looking better. Ego can get in the way of telling the truth. If understanding your life is a goal, ego has to get out of the way. Without truth, there can be little understanding.

~ You may have once known the truth, but it has all come to be a bit vague at this point. Memories grow less vivid over time. This state of failing memory is rife with slipping into flattering the ego.

The search for the truth is important because truth underlies how we interpret of our lives. If “the truth shall set you free” has any meaning, it is that, once you know the truth of your life, you can understand your past. In some way, truth makes sense of where you have ended up and opens up understanding of so many other decisions, directions, and developments.

Here is another important question: do you always have to tell all the truth? My answer is no—but don’t tell a lie.

An example of when telling the truth ought to be avoided would be if you were a gay man living in Uganda where being a homosexual has dire consequences including being put to death. It would be foolish—and perhaps fatal—for a gay memoir writer in Uganda to admit publicly to being homosexual.

There are many less dramatic examples to help you evaluate whether or not to withhold the truth about something. Sometimes withholding invalidates the theme of your memoir, and sometimes it does not.

To view a video from Denis on Telling the Difficult Truth, click here

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply