Own Your Life Story—Or Someone Else Might

Own Your Life Story—Or Someone Else Might
You’re probably not nearly as famous as poet Emily Dickinson. But if you’re on the fence about whether to write your memoirs, you might want to consider what’s still happening 124 years after Dickinson’s death.
The New York Times last Sunday reviewed Lives Like Loaded Guns, just the latest in a series of Emily Dickinson biographies that guess, speculate, presume and assume regarding all sorts of details involving the somewhat mysterious Miss Dickinson and the feuds that allegedly drew in her family. The book reviewer, Christopher Benfey, repeatedly questioned the assumptions made by the book’s author, Lyndall Gordon. Further, Benfey addressed Gordon’s assertion that “Dickinson scholars remain divided??? about their subject’s feelings toward two particular people in her life.
Most likely your life story will not attract scholars, much less be fascinating enough to divide them. Still, there are lots of people writing memoirs, and you just might end up mentioned in one of them. When you’re the one writing about your own life, you will set straight all the facts and explain your feelings about the people around you. No one will have to wonder why you quit that job, broke up that romance, chose to pursue that area of study or did whatever it is that will remain an inaccessible fact if other people are the only ones who write about you.

You’re probably not nearly as famous as poet Emily Dickinson. But if you’re on the fence about whether to write your memoirs, you might want to consider what’s still happening 124 years after Dickinson’s death.

The New York Times last Sunday reviewed Lives Like Loaded Guns, just the latest in a series of Emily Dickinson biographies that guess, speculate, presume and assume regarding all sorts of details involving the somewhat mysterious Miss Dickinson and the feuds that allegedly drew in her family. The book reviewer, Christopher Benfey, repeatedly questioned the assumptions made by the book’s author, Lyndall Gordon. Further, Benfey addressed Gordon’s assertion that “Dickinson scholars remain divided??? about their subject’s feelings toward two particular people in her life.

Most likely your life story will not attract scholars, much less be fascinating enough to divide them. Still, there are lots of people writing memoirs, and you just might end up mentioned in one of them. When you’re the one writing about your own life, you will set straight all the facts and explain your feelings about the people around you. No one will have to wonder why you quit that job, broke up that romance, chose to pursue that area of study or did whatever it is that will remain an inaccessible fact if other people are the only ones who write about you.