Thursday, February 5, 2015
Honesty in a Memoir
I would like to do this post with a little more on the theme of my memoir, “It’s Probably Just Stress”. This subject seems tame and innocent, but when you begin to write, especially about your past, it can turn into a beast and bite you. The subject is simply honesty.
Trust me, as you write, and even before you begin to write, you had better decide HOW honest you’re going to be in your memoir. Doesn’t sound right, does it? You’re supposed to be writing about your life, or rather a portion of your life and this is supposed to be truthful. The problem is how you tell your story. Let me give you an example in my own life and my own story.
I grew up in a military family and my father became a colonel in the Air Force, an accomplished pilot. My sisters and I suffered from a VERY strict father as we grew up. We had a great life, don’t get me wrong, but if we crossed the line even slightly, we suffered for it, usually with a belt. And we were good kids, never getting into trouble. Over the years, my father would stick his nose into everything I did as an adult, even after Lana and I got married and moved back to where my parents lived and bought a small business. Bad idea. Long story short, 5 years later, like an old western movie, the town was not big enough for the two of us and someone had to leave. Guess who left? We just couldn’t get along because of personalities. My parents are still alive, in their 80’s and my Dad has mellowed as he comes to terms with the later stages of his life.
My dilemma is this, how honest do I want to be in my memoir? Most of my story has to do with the period of time away from all this, but the events I described above affected me going forward in other events later on. I should at the very least mention it in the book. Should I? I love my father but I don’t like him either. He is still alive and yet I don’t want to hurt him. How honest should I be?
This is a problem I am struggling with as I write. For the first draft, I have put in everything. I followed my own rules of writing. I just wrote. My real problem will come when I go back for the re-write. It is coming soon. I have to make a decision. Family vs. the truth of my story. I am guessing I will choose my father. It is not worth hurting him, especially since we are getting along so well in his later years. I will have to either skip my information of that time in my memoir altogether or find another way to tell it.