28 January 2007

To paraphrase

I've hit a dilemma with a piece I'm writing. For most of my life, recalling conversations verbatim has come naturally to me; if there was a disputed recollection in my family, my word was law. It's not as clear anymore though, and the useless details I recall instead make me want to pull my brain apart sometimes.

In this case, I'm writing about a couple of days I'm surprised to find I don't recollect with perfect clarity. There's so much emotional aftermath that it's hard to get the immediacy of the moments prior to it. Technically, I suppose I could ask for the other person's take on it, but that's not going to happen. Our memories didn't always jive even when we got along at our best. So what then?

This must be a common problem in the world of creative nonfiction. Most people's memories do not seem to be like mine (or how mine was), so there has to be a lot of paraphrasing going on, not to mention artistic license for the sake of clarity and story. Any thoughts?

I've gotta jet. I don't exactly feel like going out to eat, but in the spirit of "engage" for 2007, I'm trying to say yes to things more often.

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3 comments :

  1. Ah. Well. I told you so. So there.

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  2. The minute we recreate the past, we fictionalize it. Some of our memories are very vivid, but I cannot help but think that they are always emotionally charged. There is never any objectivity in anything, is there?

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  3. Um, okay, Dan.

    Elisabeth: Ultimately, I suppose not because we all literally have different POVs. And most stories have a POV or a voice, so in some respects subjectivity is inherent. I suppose I'm striving for an internal objectivity.

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