“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” ~ Mark Twain
Memoirists and family storytellers understand Twain’s sentiments. Memories fade. Documents are lost. Minor achievements are lauded as heroic events. Shady characters are cloaked with secrecy. Brave events elevate common folk to sainthood. Details of past events blur the essentials―who, when, where, what, and why.
“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please” ~ Mark Twain
Facts blend with fiction as bits and pieces from the past are aggrandized into stories passed from one generation to the next. Time, circumstances, religious parameters, social status, or timidity may embellish or cloud actual events. The more clouds that gather, the more Mark Twain’s humor intensifies.
Prepare before you publish your memoirs. Organize documents and photos, research online, and compare facts with stories. Preface your manuscript or vignette collection with a proviso of your research. Should your extended family insist their versions are correct, remind them that Mark Twain supports your right to tell it your way.
“Time cools, time clarifies”