Daily Prompt: Truth or dare

As a small child I was taught to tell the truth and this I did unwaveringly until I got into trouble for telling it. I cannot remember exactly what the incident was but I know it was something to do with the old man we had seen that morning from my bedroom window. We had watched, with the nasty type of glee that only children have, as the chaps’ toupee blew off in the wind.  I must have later imparted the news that he was bald and I was left in no doubt that I had done the wrong thing. “But you told me I should never tell a lie” I informed my parents. The lesson of the white lie versus the black lie was then taught to me. Black and white became a little less black and a little less white, greying but resistant to the change.

It appeared that if what you were going to say was going to hurt someone then you must lie. If what you were going to say was going to hurt yourself you had to tell the truth – lying in this instance not being permissible. It seemed jolly unfair  to me until my level of understanding increased with my maturing age. When I really did see things in grey.

So how does this fit in with memoir writing. You are writing about yourself therefore you must tell the truth. Your readers expect it. At the same time there are other people involved  and at times what you write may hurt them so are you then compelled to lie? The question of truth and honesty in memoir is a much written about subject. There are instances such as James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces which have created much controversy as it was sold originally as a memoir when it was more fiction than fact.

Creativity  is allowed in the dialogue used and in the blurring of time frames, otherwise a memoir must be true. When it comes to the truth in the narrative however, the situation becomes a little more difficult as each person’s reality (truth) will be different. Therefore if the author’s remembrances are not true but it IS the author’s reality, is this then the truth?

Then you need to consider the other people in the memoir. How important are they to you? I don’t believe that you can change events to protect as that is lying about yourself to your audience. Either the book cannot be written until that person is gone or written as fiction or under a pseudonym. Or take the dare, bite the bullet, talk to the person and hope for the best as in memoir writing, truth is paramount.

Daily Prompt: Truth or Dare

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About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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15 Responses to Daily Prompt: Truth or dare

  1. Joann says:

    It is certainly a wrestling match! I have often done this wrestling myself, being the youngest of five my memories are always different than those of my family.


  2. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Truth or Dare | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

  3. This is a helpful post. I am considering writing my story and no man (or woman) is an island! Sue


  4. Glynis Jolly says:

    The business of telling the truth or telling a lie when writing memoirs can get tricky at times. About a week ago I published my post called ‘The Green Jello Salad’ that told of an incident that would have embarrassed a relative of mine. I felt okay reveling though because there are no living descendants of that line in my family tree. The rest of the family is well aware of the incident so if they happened to read it would get a chuckle out of it.


  5. very touchy subject. I would most certainly have a difficult time writing about someone living (or deceased for that matter) that was less than flattering.. Subsequently I’m staying away from it altogether. But for someone writing their memoirs, do you really have a choice when it comes to truth telling?
    Thought provoking Irene,
    good subject.


  6. Pingback: A Poetic Duet With A Shade Of Pen – “The Burden Of Truth” | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

  7. Pingback: A Shade Of Pen

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