All True Fiction

As I have mentioned recently, I am currently working on a memoire-ish project, which happens to be the first book-length story of this sort I have ever attempted. I have noticed, however, that while the story itself is non-fiction, as a writer I find I am most effective when I approach the subject as if it were fiction. Let me be clear: I am not making stuff up. Memory, of course, is what it is, and I made peace early on with the fact that I am sharing my version of events. I am sure some of the players, should they choose to read the book when it is done, will tell me I got it all wrong. I have and will consult with them when necessary, but generally I don’t want their memories gumming up the works.

And the works, in this case, is not what happened. That is, the point of the books is not to tell what happened, any more than the point of a novel is to list a series of seemingly connected events. Fictional stories are emotional journeys traveled through action and dialogue designed to leave the reader at an emotional destination, a felt truth, be it Love is Real, or Love isn’t Real, or whatever else you believe and want to share.

This is exactly the case for my current (true) story. The book is called No One Is Broken and that is what it is about. It is not about me, or my son, or my wife, or my father, or any of the things we did or said or thought—it is about No One Is Broken, and everything I choose to tell and how I choose to tell it I choose because I hope to lead the reader toward this emotional truth. Everything else is discardable.

It is a great exercise for this writer. It is easy to take yourself very seriously, to cling to your victories and wounds, to tell the story again and again of how you triumphed or how you were wronged. It is all discardable. I believe this is why we feel so disposable sometimes. We come to confuse ourselves with our stories, and the more we do, the smaller we feel, until we might even want to discard the one telling the story.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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