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Tag Archives: memoirs

Avoiding ‘Truthiness’ When Writing Your Life

The Artist's Road

“Did that really happen?” It’s a question every memoirist and personal essayist faces. Ideally the writer will answer “Yes.” It gets awkward when you have to say, “Yes, but…”

In the October 2005 debut episode of his influential TV show, Stephen Colbert gave the world the word truthiness. He said truthiness is when you’re talking about something that seems like the truth that you want to be the truth. That sounds a lot like the way memory works. I know a little bit about that as a journalist, piecing together different participants’ own truthiness of an event in an attempt to find the real truth.

I am now in my third year of learning to put the “I” on the page after years as a fact-obsessed journalist. I have learned a lot and am still learning, but my touchstone philosophy on writing about my life comes from Tobias Wolff’s…

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