Friday, April 12, 2013

How Accurate Are the Facts in Autobiographies? (Part 1 of 3)

First-person accounts have one serious defect: They're prejudiced retellings of the facts of their lives. That doesn't mean intentional distortion of facts. It means, "This is my life as I have understood it."

After Norman Vaughan and I wrote his second book, My Life of Adventure, an Alaskan citizen wrote me twice to tell me that Norman lied about a few things. I didn't believe Norman deceived, because he was a man of integrity.

What may have been true is that Norman remembered incorrectly (or the Alaskan writer did). Norman may have interpreted an event differently from someone else.

That's the danger in writing about ourselves. We try to be truthful and honest, but we don't remember correctly, or we may have forgotten, or we misunderstood something we witnessed.

When I write, I try to tell the truth; 
I may be mistaken or misinterpret, but I try to be honest.

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