“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”
— Robert Frost
Lately I’ve been contemplating what it takes to write the truth.
I did it. Now people are asking me how I did it, how they can do it — probably because I’ve been giving a lot of presentations about writing memoir. Which I am beginning to very much enjoy — encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and share their life stories.
Telling the truth — verbally — is hard enough. Like coming clean to the friends and family members who didn’t know that I’d been pregnant at 19, given birth to a son, and relinquished him for adoption. And then found him 25 years later. Telling my parents that we had found each other and reunited was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Because I knew they wouldn’t be happy, would want my shameful secret to stay just that… secret… buried forever.
Putting the truth down on paper is even harder. Unless you’re just writing it for yourself and never plan to “go public.” Even if you only plan to share it with family members, as a piece of your history. Chances are some won’t share your view of what happened, and maybe even chastise you for your take on the situation.
Don’t discount your emotional truth. Your memories are you own. I wrote about it in October: Emotional Truth
Writing for publication introduces a whole new level of fear. Oh man, was I afraid after Second-Chance Mother was published! That people would object to it, dismiss me as a whining or self-pitying, not believe what I experienced.
At one of my recent presentations, a man asked me if I thought it was possible to write a true stories without having to feel the pain. I hesitated, then said no. Not if he wanted the story to touch others.
I since found the quote posted above: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”
If you’re not writing for publication, does the lack of tears matter?