Writing and Publishing

Six Options When Your Memory Fails You

When I was in high school, I remember sitting in my parent’s living room watching the USA hockey team play the Soviet Union in the medal round of the 1980 Olympics. My dad, like most everyone else, predicted a sound defeat for the USA, but I held out hope a miracle would happen. And it did. A few days later, again sitting in their living room, I watched the scrappy USA team win the gold medal.

There’s only one problem with my story. It couldn’t have happened.

When the game took place in 1980, I was neither in high school nor living with my parents. My memories are obviously faulty.

If you’re writing a memoir or autobiography and face this dilemma, what are your options?

1) Write it anyway—it’s your memoir so say what you remember
2) Write it and admit your recollections are not correct
3) Ask others to fill in the blanks or correct misconceptions
4) Omit the facts that don’t add up
5) Write it as you remember, but don’t present it as fact; perhaps it was a dream or make it an idealized version of what you wish had happened
6) Don’t write about it because it is in error

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.