Your Story Matters!
Memoir Writing Instructor Answers Your Questions
Every life is made up of stories—some are deliriously happy tales, others are devastatingly sad, and our life experiences represent every imaginable kind of emotion in between. We all have family history and life stories, and the sad truth is that if we don’t preserve them, they are permanently gone. There is no rewind. There is no going back to capture them.
Please enjoy Post #5 in this series.
Q5. What if my siblings don’t agree with my stories?
A5. This is a tough one! Everyone has their own unique perspective on what it was like growing up in a particular household. A few years ago, I taught a workshop series that included two sisters and a brother. I had experience with teaching classes where spouses were in attendance, but teaching to adult siblings was very different. As they shared various memories of growing up, one sister finally spoke up and said, “Are you talking about the same house I grew up in?” All three siblings had very different views of their upbringing.
I was teaching a tele-class to a client, and after he had written several stories he decided to allow his sister to read his work-in-progress. He was incredibly proud of what he had accomplished in preserving those childhood memories, but dismayed when his sister said, “I don’t remember it that way at all.”
His question to me was, “Should I change my stories to please my sister?”
I said, “Absolutely not. These are your memories, and if she has a different version, let her write her own stories!”
In my own family, there is a significant age gap between siblings. When my brother was born, I was already fifteen and my sister was twenty years old. My sister and I had grown up with at least some mutual history, but she and my brother never even lived in the same household together. During the time I was growing up, we lived in Southern California. My parents loved exploring different locations on the weekends, and I was privileged to be exposed to car trips throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, simply wherever the travel bug bit my parents to go. By the time my brother was born, I think their wanderlust had been exhausted. He did not have that same experience that I vividly recall.
I believe that it also depends on the personality of the individual. Some young people are far more rebellious than others and find themselves in a world of trouble. Their experience will be different than someone who has managed to focus on education, choose good friends with the same goals, has not pushed the behavior envelope and has an interest in making a viable plan for the future.
Spend time gathering your memories and sharing them with future generations. Just remember that they are YOUR personal experiences, so write to the best of YOUR recollection!
Your stories are a priceless legacy!
Mary Anne Benedetto is the owner of A Writer’s Presence, LLC, a writer, speaker, blogger, Certified Lifewriting Instructor, and an affiliate teacher with the The Memoir Network. Author of 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, she offers beneficial tips, hints and critical steps in memoir writing in order to remove the “overwhelmed” factor in memoir projects.
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