A friend who writes for a living recently shared a story about the publication of his first book, a very revealing memoir. Before its release, he gave his parents a ‘heads up’ to prepare them for what was about to become public knowledge. His mother never read the book. In contrast his father couldn’t put it down.
When his father finished reading his son’s book, he called to share his thoughts. He liked it but he had two questions. How did he know so many words and “why in the world would you share intimate details of your private life like that?”
Why Write Something Personal?
His father was asking a question shared by many. Why write a memoir? Why write anything personal at all?
Author Bruce Jay Friedman says he writes stories based upon his personal experience so he “can puzzle things out” for himself. After completing his first story he found he simply was not as troubled about the events explored in his writing as he thought. He felt “lighter” and really liked feeling that way.”
We also write to “puzzle things out” and to feel “lighter.” We write to heal–from heartbreak, loss, disease, injustice, the list goes on. Healing is not the only reason we write but it’s a big part of the process. Connecting with others completes the process. Readers share comments like: “I went through a similar challenge” or “you put into words what I’ve always felt but either couldn’t find the words to express it or was afraid to say out loud.”
Did you really do all that?
When Ms. E shared excerpts of our first book with her family members, their response revealed a deep curiosity. Each one wanted to know “did you really do all that?”
She tried her best to stop laughing. Finally, she was able to blurt out “No! Our stories may be based upon real events. It’s our imagination that allows us to take them wherever we want to go.”
Another reason we write is because storytelling allows us to go places in our minds where we might not dare go in our daily lives. We get to try on disguises, flirt with taboos, indulge in fantasies, smooth out rough edges of our past hurts and invite others to do the same.
Why in the world would we share intimate details–sometimes real, sometimes not–in our stories? Because we not only get to puzzle things out while and indulge in our fantasies but we get to tell our stories to anyone who wants to listen.
What could be better?