Putting Memories on Paper


I have tried to take over where my father left off in terms of keeping memories alive.  Most of what I write and tell is autobiographical fiction. However, on other occasions, I exercise an effort to be faithful to the truth.

I often wonder about the perfect truth of anything oral or written.  Is that a cynical viewpoint or the simple reality? Are autobiographies or history books really collections of truth.  True stories and a few myths often merge into the oral and written tradition of a family and a history of any civilization. My tales intend to resemble the end result of the normal flow of information moving through the community as quickly as one person can speak to another and then to another.  After the story is repeated multiple times, it is warped into a saga that is almost always more interesting than the original.  Is it perfect truth?  Never.  Is it a total myth, not really? Paradoxically two versions of the same event from different observers are ever equal, but that doesn’t mean that either has to be untrue.  Think about it!  Even the most careful replay of a memory by the person that lived through, witnessed, or heard about an event is corrupted.  Perception of an event is shaped by one’s mood, the quality of a person’s eyesight, the physical position someone had to see or hear the event, memory, training in observation, and other important factors.  A story is always enhanced or diminished, either intentionally or accidentally.

Oral tradition is also gently modified with the simple passing of time.  But, each version lives in the mind of someone and carries the potential to be closest or most distant from the truth. The goal of a good story, in contrast with historical biography or even an honest attempt of an autobiography, is that it weaves truth with enough fiction to make it spell-binding, humorous and provides a friend or an adversary with whom the reader can identify.  A good storyteller tells a believable yarn allowing the reader to wonder—“Where did the truth end and the fiction begin?”  Or, better yet, “I wish I could have been there for that one.”

My writing is often an elaboration of what really happened during the 65  years of my life as a road warrior living in five U. S states, three countries; as well as visiting more than 50 countries and all 50 of the U. S states.  By the nature of the material I am sometimes obligated to anonymity.  The truth is intentionally incomplete enough and intermingled sufficiently with different memories so no one will be fully identifiable or embarrassed.  If anyone sees himself/herself described perfectly in any story, he/she is mistaken unless it is specifically stated and categorized as such, they are mistaken.  So, enjoy this writing knowing that it will include truth and fiction.

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One thought on “Putting Memories on Paper

  1. Marji October 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm Reply

    WOW! You FINALLY ADMITTED IT!!! 🙂 Also, 65???

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