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It’s the truth…honest

I can usually tell if someone is lying to me when I am looking at them, but reading is completely different. Take Harry Potter’s Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in The Chamber of Secrets who wrote about his wondrous adventures of danger, only to find out that he stole those stories from others with a spell. So, I guess you can write your memoir with as many fallacies as you want but if your goal was to write some fabulous story, like Lockhart, then perhaps try your hand at fiction. However, should you want to write something more powerful and impactful, then you must be honest with your story. People look for humbleness and truth when they pick up an autobiography or a memoir. People like to relate to other’s experiences. People like to know that the everyday Joe survived terrible things. So tell your story with sincerity. Strip down to your vulnerabilities and share your embarrassments, mistakes and ultimate lessons learned. More importantly, be honest with yourself. When I worked in the psychiatric unit, I would listen to their stories and know they are leaving parts out or minimizing their emotions and I would tell them, “You can lie to me all you want, but don’t lie to yourself.” And so I say the same to you. You survived something or achieved something beyond your wildest dreams, so share from your heart. Which brings us to the next point of putting your readers in your shoes. Is your story making sense? Is it easy to follow? Is it relatable? If your readers cannot make sense of your story, they won’t relate and your objective of helping others is a wash. You want them to feel what you felt. You want them to get the feeling you understand them. Your readers want to feel you are talking to them.

Going back to my DNA story, I know I am not the only one who was surprised by my results. I also know I’m not the only one whose mother had an affair. But, perhaps I am of a minimal number whose mother not only had an affair, but with someone underage and an employee. The embarrassment I felt and the uneasiness I felt, that would be what I would focus on. Because maybe my story would help others open up about theirs and that is the point of a memoir.

Next week: Employ elements of fiction to bring your story to life.

Create an emotional journey.

Until next time…

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