Saturday, May 21, 2011

Article #151 Editing vs. Censoring

Are there parts of your life story that you should edit or censor? Definitely. Keeping in mind your audience and your purpose for writing your history will determine what to leave out. Your history shouldn’t be a fairy tale giving the false notion that everything always turns out hunky dory-it doesn’t. Life is full of challenges. It’s possible that your young grandchildren will want to read what you’ve written. So, keep that in mind. (Photo l-r of my mother and me with my three sons newly arrived in Utah after my divorce.)

Focus on trials or challenges as a lesson you’ve learned from rather than dwelling on poor me or having a pity party. That can be a waste of time and depressing for anyone to read. While writing a journal is great therapy, sharing every negative or critical thought you’ve ever had is NOT a good idea. Point out what you’ve learned from all your experiences. Which brings me to another point. Always write in first person such as I remember…Not second person she recalls…unless of course you are writing your family history about someone else in your family.

As I wrote about my divorce in my biography, it would have been easy to drift into negative criticism of my ex-spouse but that wasn’t necessary. I simply stated how I adjusted, then went on with my life. Forgiveness was a lesson learned and freely given to my former husband and to myself, so I could continue on in a positive way as a single parent. Remember-what you write critically about others says more about your own character than it does about the other person’s misbehavior.

Do write openly and honestly about your life, but then take a critical look or have someone else you trust assist you in editing out remarks, judgments or issues that don’t need to be part of your life’s record forever. If you’ve had a particular difficult relationship with an in-law or other family member or friend, you may not need all the details in your history but just the major understandings that came to you because of this difficulty. Be sensitive to the feelings of others still living in sharing their part in your life. The purpose of your biography should be to build family unity and bonding not to create misunderstandings or to seek revenge. (Photo-Just one happy family with two little boys so far.)

There is a balance to be found between the naked truth, reality and your version of your life’s experiences.


  1. You are right .I completely agree with the concluding line of your post.

  2. That's what good taste and good sense are about. Rare items these days!

  3. This is all very good advice, Lin. I did start on mine, but have a lot of work to do on it. I'm still working on my husband's family. It's hard to coordinate all his cousins' input, etc. Thank you so much for your help.

  4. these are great recommendations. It's funny to me, when I read what people write, people whom I have known personally, and see the stories they come up with after the fact. There has to be a point where you can be honest without being cruel or lying.

  5. Yes..balance is the secret and some things serve no purpose in being shared....I admire your candor...

  6. I haven't gotten the the chapter on our divorce yet, but certainly appreciate your advice regarding same! I will get there eventually and will definitely remember your guidance. While considering travel by boat, you might want to check out our blog- my second husband and I just returned from 5 1/2 years in Latin America on our BOAT: will get you there!