What do you do when your story involves some messy details? How do you share the truth of a difficult situation when others are involved?
Most people who decide to write their story have thought about this more than once. Do you tell the truth or do you sugarcoat the situation? Do you dive into the middle of the muck and mire or do you choose the flower-lined pathway? What is the best way to share the hard-learned lessons of a messy situation?
Messes make great stories.
Positive, wishy-washy fairy tales where everyone lives happily ever after is not the way we grow stronger. Real life is full of messes we create for ourselves and messes we find ourselves in the middle of without a solution. Getting through them is how character is built.
Tension is what sets a mediocre story apart from a dynamic one. Truth is stranger than fiction. Being unafraid of the unpopular is what creates a story people can’t stop reading.
Tell your truth.
What is truth? When I wrote my memoir, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds, I struggled with this question. Most everyone has a different interpretation of truth.
As a journalist, I am trained to tell all side of a story. Telling all sides didn’t work for this book. The memoir is about my journey. However presumptuous is sounds, my truth is the only one that matters.
Most people can tell fake a mile away. Real is the only thing that precisely communicates truth. It resonates. People connect to you and believe you.
Others have truth.
My story is told in first person, from my perspective. It is my understanding of what happened. Others may have a different truth. That’s fine. They can write their own book.
There are places I changed individual’s names or did not use names. There are things I did not reveal. If it was about another person and that person was still alive, I did not put it in the story.
The things I did include that are slightly controversial I kept because they are pivotal to the book. If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean. If not, read the book.
Truth has many layers.
Truth is multi-faceted. There is the layer you and everyone else sees, the one others see, the one no one sees and the one you see. The extent to which you share from each layer only deepens your story.
I began with the layer I know well, mainly my internal emotional struggles. Much of this was in the secret layer only I knew. Then, I dug out old pictures and looked back at myself through the years. I saw the part everyone, including me, sees. Pondering the issues and talking to my family, I discovered the layer only others see. Putting all of these together I discovered a hidden layer, the one no one but God sees.
As I pulled back the curtain to that layer, I discovered a spiritual depth that brought me to my knees. I was reminded that no matter what kind of writing I do, if it doesn’t change me, it’s not worth writing.
Make the ending punch.
Writing about a mess should be full of discovery. It’s not enough to just describe the mess. There must be some turning point, some redemptive value in the process.
Tell what you learned. Don’t hold back. Tell what others learned as they saw you go through your trial.
In the final note at the end of my book, my daughter shares what it was like to live with a mother who overcame morbid obesity.
Her statements bring punch. “I watched you battle your demons for years. You’ve inspired so many people. You continue to inspire me.”
Victim to Victor
A book should be able to be summed up in one sentence. If so, mine would be: No matter what mess a person is in, he or she can move from being a victim to being a victor.
This truth makes being transparent and open with my journey worth every messy word.
I’d love to help you get messy with your story. Check out the information below.
IT’S TIME TO WRITE YOUR BOOK. I believe everyone has a book inside them. I’d like to help you get it out of you, on to paper, into a book and out for the world to see. The Six-Month Write the Vision Coaching Group is taking members now. In six months, I believe you can write and self-publish your book. I know you can get it written. Join us now. Go Here for more information: https://teresashieldsparker.com/write-the-vsion/