I thought over the next few weeks it might be useful to pass on a few mots justs from other writers that have given me food for thought as I struggle with my latest manuscript.
I found this, from Charles Dickens, particularly pertinent when it comes to writing memoirs.
“People don’t change – they only stand more nakedly revealed.”
Now you may balk at the thought of having your friends and family “nakedly revealed” ! but nevertheless this illustrates an important point, that the characters in our personal stories have to unfold, and be revealed to the reader, bit by bit – just as they are in good fiction.
How we relate to, and understand, our parents and siblings, for example, changes and matures as we grow older, and the challenge is to reveal that growing understanding in our text. So when writing about our childhood, we must think like the child we were, we must see the world through the eyes of the teenager that we were, and so on, until the present day. This careful and steady unveiling of ourselves and of those around us will be what gives our narratives tension and interest and make our grandchildren and great-grandchildren keep turning the pages.
Of course, the question to be considered is how much of ourselves do we ‘unveil’. How much do we reveal about others? And if we want to write ‘truthfully’ about our lives, whose truth do we tell?
No easy answers there, but I see the yard arm has finally gone down, so turning gratefully to the corner cabinet, I can leave those challenges for another day. Happy writing!