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A Writer's Jottings

Telling the Truth About Oneself

As I prepare to give a talk about the genre of memoir in a few weeks, I'm again reflecting on this compelling and challenging kind of writing that so many of us are tempted to undertake, especially as we get older.


After working for twelve years as a journalist and another twelve as a biographer, I began tentatively to write from my own experience as I was nearing the age of fifty, an age when women often become more outspoken about what they know.


Eventually, I developed a desire to read all my journals and make sense of the past, which resulted in Word for Word: A Writer's Life. It was not always easy to look back and remember, but it gave me astonishing moments of clarity about what had really happened in several family relationships.


In the memoir, I felt it was important to tell the truth as I understood it.


"Remembrance, or what is not written down, can be dreamlike--infused by imagination and fallible by definition. While memory and perception can be imperfect, what is remembered is what's most meaningful in the mind of the memoirist and is as important as fabrication in novels and facts in biography," I explained in the introduction to Word for Word.


Realizing that a memoir is an expression of one's own valid point-of-view, which we are legally entitled to publish as long as it isn't libelous, frees us to be honest as we work in this demanding genre as well as to read the memoirs of others with more understanding.


With warm regards,



Life Stories With Laurie Lisle
Thursday, Nov. 16th, 5 to 6 p.m.
The Norfolk Library
9 Greenwoods Road East
Norfolk, Connecticut 06058


In the next month or so, there's a surprise coming for readers of this newsletter. I'm not going to say more at the moment, but its look and reach are about to change.



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