Memoirist and creative nonfiction writers constantly ponder the question, “What is truth?” And they struggle with their truth vs. the truth of those about whom they write as well as the truth as they remember it—or believe it.
How can you know the truth? One way is to learn from other memoirists and creative nonfiction writers who have struggled with the same questions and come up with answers.
For those of you who are writing memoir or creative nonfiction, you’ll be interested in this guest post by Linda Joy Myers, president of the National Association of Memoir Writers. It’s a personal invitation to join her today at her free all-day Truth or Lie: On the Cusp of Memoir and Fiction telesummit. I suggest you sign up. Listen when you can. Then download the recordings and listen to the sessions you missed. That’s what I’ll be doing. I wouldn’t miss it.
I hope when it’s over I’ll have a better idea of what “truth” means when it comes to writing memoir and creative nonfiction.
How Do You Know the Truth?
By Linda Joy Myers
At the National Association of Memoir Writers Telesummit today, October 21, I’m immersing myself for six hours with authors I admire, whose works have changed me. Their books have shaped my thinking toward more creative choices and pushed me toward using language to carve out even deeper truths.
The experts I get to hang out with are Jennifer Lauck, author of Blackbird and three other memoirs, including her last book, Found, who shows us how to go amazingly deep in our writing. Dinty W. Moore’s collection of memoir essays, Between Panic and Desire, show us how we can weave small pieces into a memoir, while Robin Hemley’s Nola is another kind of weaving that examines the nature of memory and the sources of “truth,” whatever that is. and also features a panel of young memoirists who couldn’t wait for people to die before they wrote about their lives!
Robin’s memoir asks: whose version of “truth” is “real”? Can we trust memory, or do we create our story based on emotional need or unconscious beliefs?
In Nola he writes:
How can one be objective about one’s family? How can one resist the urge to edit, to become the family spin doctor?
…There is no real past, it’s all a daydream is seems, or an endless series of clues and discoveries…
…everyone’s life is a kind of detective story, every clue of our forebears’ lives, every decision, missed opportunity…are part of the solution to our own existence.
The topic of the telesummit is Truth or Lie: On the Cusp of Memoir and Fiction, And the best news: the telesummit is FREE to everyone. Just sign up at the link below. To read more about the Telesummit, go to the National Association of Memoir Writers to sign up. You will receive a link to the downloadable audio after the conference is over.
Robin will talk about “The Trouble with the Truth,” which is the disturbing and challenging issue for all memoir and nonfiction writers. In his introduction to the teleconference he says:
Any time we set down to write the truth of our lives we have to face the fact that there is no single truth to our lives. To make matters more complex we’re different people at different times in our lives and we show different faces to different people. The portrayal of an “authentic” self is something most memoir writers strive for, but there are always details we omit or exaggerate or forget, or hidden agendas even we aren’t aware of as we’re writing. While we don’t want to lie, we also have to understand that what we aspire to write is closer to art than a court room transcript. It’s not all about content. There are aesthetic concerns as well. Above all, you have to remember that once an event has passed, it’s gone forever and words can’t recreate the event. They can only create a semblance of the event.
Come discover with me the difference between truth and lie by learning with some of the great memoir and creative fiction writers today. To sign up for the Telesummit, click here. (Remember, it’s free!) See you there!
About the Author
Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFA, is the President and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, an Instructor at Writers Digest, past president of the California Writers Club, Marin branch, and Co- President of the Women’s National Book Association. Linda is the author of The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Becoming Whole, and Don’t Call Me Mother, which won the BAPIA Gold Medal prize. Linda’s next book is Truth or Lie: On the Cusp of Memoir and Fiction. She gives workshops nationally, through NAMW, Story Circle, and Therapeutic Writing Institute, and helps people capture their stories through coaching, editing, and online workshops. www.namw.org. Blog: http://memoriesandmemoirs.com