Tuesday, January 14, 2014

More on YOUR story.

“Read no history--nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.”
I was talking to a lady yesterday, who is a significant member of our community, a was one of the women written about in a recent collection of stories on local women.  I had heard about the book - it was published in 2013 I understand, but somehow I had not seen it anywhere.
The lady with whom I was speaking was critical of the story about herself.  She was interviewed for the book, and I understand was offered the article to make comment, changes etc, but she confesses she didn't.  Like a lot of people, she found it difficult to read about herself, and she made the critical error of not correcting some errors.  When she attended the launch of the book and opened the pages to read about herself, she was shocked and embarrassed.   When I asked if I could see it, she refused.
I have ordered it from the library - so hope to see it for myself.
It is not uncommon for someone to not "see" themselves as others see them, and it is not uncommon for the subject to want to suggest some changes to the story as they see it.
As the writer of the life story, particularly if your subject is alive and well, you do need to ensure that you get the story right - and if possible that the subject of the story is "happy" with what is written.  It is a fine line - and when writing life stories where others are involved, it pay to be particularly careful with all the information at hand.
In fact, often it is wise to get a legal person, a lawyer with knowledge of book writing/publishing to check your work.  The very last thing you want is the drama of someone suing you because they are unhappy by the way you have portrayed them in a book.  Indeed if anyone, even unnamed, thinks they recognise themselves in the book, and they feel aggrieved in some way, there might be a costly legal battle, or the book might be scuttled.
Somewhere in my book collection I had a copy of a book which received high praise a number of years ago - purporting to be the story of a girl's experience. Now, for legal reasons I will not say more here, but will say that some time after the book had been on the market for some time, it was found that the story was FICTION and not a true story.  The publisher recalled the books - the writer was disgraced, and there was much drama about it.  I do think I still have my copy of the book - as much as anything to me the book had a special story.  In my many moves it may be lost, but I still have about 4 boxes to go through.
The writer has to be honest - and if you write a story and have to use your own imagination about some aspects of the story you need to ensure that the reader is aware of this.
I have been trying to fictionalise a true story - for a particular project and know that I have to create detail, colour, conversations, moods, expressions, even in some parts create the scenery.  It is not easy to do.  It is a project that will forever haunt me.
I have "finished" my life story now - a story that in the event of my demise, will give my family information about me that they would not have known, particularly about my childhood, schooling etc, and they can feel free to use it as an obituary if needed.  I managed 1400 words - and I am happy with it, though, just like any writer, I might return to it in a few weeks, or months, and make some changes.
It really pleases me that I have done it.  I have walked my talk!!!  Done!!!  It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
One book that I have read recently, from cover to cover, was "the book of Women" - 300 Notable Women History Passed By." by Lynne Griffin & Kelly McCann.  The writers have captured the essence of their stories in little more than a paragraph.
The book of Women - at Amazon.
On the other hand, author Suzanna de Vries, has written much more about the women in her project - that is what Suzanna does.  She is a  wonderful writer of stories of women in history - mainly Australian women.
The Complete Book of Great Australian Women at ABC Bookshop
You need to spend some time reading other books - visit some libraries and see how other writers have done it.  Work out your POINT OF DIFFERENCE - see if you can do something different.  Good luck.

A good reason to write your own life story is that you know YOUR STORY better than anyone else.  


Rachel Lavern said...

I have never given it much thought, but I suppose every person has a story to tell.

I have had the intention to write the story of my life for many years; however, the only one I've told thus far is on the About Page of my website.

Rachel recently wrote How to Find Your Niche

peter petterson said...

Better to write about a deceased person who will obviously not object to comments written.

Caro Ness said...