Have you ever told somebody that you feel a certain way about something only to have them say something like, “You shouldn’t feel that way”, or “That’s not right” or even “I didn’t see it that way”? Here’s the problem with those comments:
Everyone is entitled to feel the way they feel.
It’s about perception, where you are in your life at that moment and how that moment affects you. With feelings or emotions, there are no cut and dried rights and wrongs — it’s perception.
In memoir, your story is yours, alone. It’s unique to you, your situation and your life. We can (and a lot will) go through a similar experience in our lives. How we perceive that experience is based on our own individual beliefs and other life experiences. It’s kinda like the child’s game — telephone. You start with one story or statement and by the time it goes through a lot of people to the last person, you can hardly recognize the original story or statement. We all put our own twist or perception on the story before we pass it along.
Have you heard that it’s easier to write about a particularly difficult time in your life if you wait for a while? That’s because time dulls the pain, panic, intense feelings. You can tell the story from a distance now, maybe realize something you didn’t at the time of the incident.
Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t write until years later. Lots of people find writing is therapeutic, helps them get through a difficult time. But, try writing about something now that happened to you say 1, 5 or 10 years ago. The feelings and intensity have died down and allow you to really tell the story now without trying to color or convince your reader to feel a certain way. Readers are smart. They don’t have to be drug around by the nose to understand — they pick up on the details you write and draw their own conclusions.
The next time someone tells you “you shouldn’t feel that way“, tell them your feelings and perceptions are important. You can’t deal with them if you don’t acknowledge them — right, wrong or indifferent. It’s part of what makes us unique!