Thursday, June 17, 2010


As a memoir writer I have to wonder how my memories relate to the facts. Of all the events in my life that I could have remembered, why did I choose the ones that stick with me? And do I remember those events accurately as exact truth or do I recall them according to some emotional truth as I perceived it?

John Daniel, author of Looking After, a memoir about taking care of his mother as her memory gradually fades with Alzheimer's Disease, has concluded that "Memory is a system of near-infinite complexity, a system that seems designed for revision as much as for replication, and revision unquestionably occurs. Many details are lost, usually in ways that serve the self in its present situation, not the self of ten or twenty or forty years ago when the remembered event took place."

If John is right and my memories are primarily self-serving, I am presented with the challenge of trying to reach the honest emotional heart of my stories while still paying due respect to factual truth as well as to truths remembered by others who were present at the same events.



  1. All you can do, it seems to me, is go for emotional truth (which you can, largely, control) and do your best with factual accuracy (which is never entirely objective, when perspective and temporal distance will pretty much always muddy the waters.

  2. If anyone can find that balance, it will be you!