Friday, May 26, 2023

Bringing Authenticity into Your Writing: The Challenges and the Benefits of One Writer's Journey with His Memoir

Many of us say we want to write with authenticity.  Of course, that's a worthy goal, as is living an authentic life. But it can also be a challenging one. In our lives, we can decide what to reveal or not reveal, and still live authentically within those perimeters, I believe. On the page of a book, it's different. You share a story from your life, from your heart and core values, and readers can take it anywhere they want.    

I've been drafting short essays about my mom, who was a pilot in World War II.  Her story of being in the Women's Airforce Service Pilots program was recorded in a Library of Congress interview. She died several years ago at age 98. Reading about her flying years, now that she's gone, made me realize how little I knew of her life, as her daughter. We get to know our loved ones even more after they're gone, a bereaved friend once told me, and I'm seeing that now.  I have so many questions:  how did she get to be so strong, such a survivor? At twenty-two, she was ferrying B-24's across the US to Canada. Once, her plane engine caught on fire and she had to do a dead stick landing at LaGuardia.    

One of my past students, Jody Lulich, was another example to me of surviving. I had the privilege of working with him both in classes and as a private client after he won the prestigious Loft Mentor Series in 2015 for his memoir-in-progress. Jody struggled to structure the story of growing up in a biracial family with a mother who committed suicide when he was a boy.