The Memoir of Autobiography by Brenda J. Wood

December 10 is the deadline for this page, the same day my son was born so many years ago. He came a bit earlier than expected, as I remember it. His version of the story is quite different.

Pretty much every memoir we write is like that. You, the author, see it and write it from your perspective. Our participants, that is our readers, see it another. God help you if your reader happens to also be one of your relatives. Who is to be believed? The real truth lies somewhere in between. That’s why we call it memoir and not autobiography.

While you fully believe every single word you write about a bad parent, a miserable marriage, or an angry boss, the word autobiography may garner you public embarrassment or a lawsuit.

Memoir gives you the opportunity to say, “That’s how I remember it. Let’s just agree to disagree.” Even the worst person from your past had a few good qualities and it softens the blow to their ego if you add in a few. If you can’t be a little kind, then perhaps you aren’t ready to write that particular paragraph yet.

Be kind to yourself too. That bit too painful to scribble? Then don’t. It’s a memoir, not something for TV news or The Toronto Star, for goodness sake. It’s hard to put your pain on a page. Give yourself a break.

Anyway, it is not in print yet. You can change details when you edit. You can replace actual names, dates, details, the number of people, or anything else you like. It’s your story and you’re sticking to it, right?

The fact is that you’re writing from your point of view. Let the other guy write their own version, should they suddenly become as brave as you are. You are brave you know. You’re taking the hurt and pain, the joy and laughter, your life in quantity, and sharing it with the world.

Does it matter that my son and I disagree on the details? No, not really. He is commenting from the perspective of a newborn with no life experience while I, though semi-conscious at the time, have the advantage of age . . . with fading memories on small details.

The important thing is that both he and his sister continue to bring us great joy. I remember the tears in their dad’s eyes and the joy on his face when he first saw them. What really matters? The emotions those events raised in us or the bare bones facts?

So write your autobiography anyway you like. Just be sure to call it your memoir.

Please note that these are the writer’s thoughts and are not to be used for legal purposes.

brenda-woodBrenda J. Wood is a motivational speaker and author.

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1 comment

  1. Pam Mytroen says:

    Ha ha, this was good Brenda. It’s all about perspective I guess.

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