In her excellent blog post of just a few weeks ago (28 September 2019), my United Ghostwriters colleague, Caro Handley, wrote about the value of telling ‘the whole truth’ in your memoir – i.e. including in your account of your life the stories of the times when you made mistakes, hurt others or made decisions you later regretted. Caro is a vastly experienced ghostwriter with more than 50 bestselling books under her belt and has worked with a number of very high-profile clients from all walks of life, and her point about honesty being the best way, not only to engage your readers but also to make peace with your experiences, is a very valid one.
But, particularly if you are not a famous person, are there times when it’s ok, or even wise, to tailor the truth in an account of your life? To omit certain episodes, or leave out significant people or facts; to quickly gloss over certain experiences or circumstances, or even change certain details or chronologies? Does a memoir by definition have to be an exhaustive and unflinching recitation of everything that has happened to you? (I’ll be talking here in the main about ‘non-celeb’ memoirs, as opposed to those by high-profile public figures, where a reader’s expectations in terms of the level of disclosure may be very different.)