Telling my personal story has often been difficult for me because my nature is to stick to the facts. I was raised to believe in factual truth. I have a bad habit of correcting my wife in front of people when she has the facts wrong. And she lets me know it. Old habits are hard to break.
It has taken me years to appreciate the importance of changing our stories in their re-telling — to understand the value of embellishing the facts. Facts are not as important as meaning. The truth resides deeper in our memories than facts.
Yet where does one draw the line? Reporters in recent times have been fired or forced to resign because they have played too loose with the facts. And in some cases, reporters have fabricated the entire story. Memoirists have been criticized and had their books pulled from the shelves because it was found that they fabricated some of their memories.
Do we violate the reader and writer bond when we embellish our stories? The reader is expecting the truth and is upset to find the writer has altered the facts. The trust is broken. The reader feels betrayed.
Yet the great storytellers embellished their memories to make them entertaining. Life as we live it has long stretches of boredom. Life as we imagine it is full of adventure and romance. Great writers understand this principle.
Life as we know it is chaotic and without purpose. Imagination allows us to bring order and meaning to events. Life is lived in the moment and only understood through creative reflection. Life is not as much about names, events and facts as it is about feelings, connections and dreams. Life is about memory. Cherish your creative memories.
May your memories grow in proportion
to the richness of your creative spirit.