Today’s call with Corey and Annie was a bit different for me. Usually, I’m hearing Corey’s stories for the first time, at least for the most part. I’m able to listen objectively, with no preconceptions, like a reader opening a book for the first time. This lets me see or feel where the gaps in the story are, so that we can address them later in writing. The story we focused on today, however, was one I actually experienced with Corey. That is, for the good parts.
I’ll sum up the story briefly, because that’s not what I want to focus on here. In 2007-2008, I worked with Corey and a client of the Table to ghostwrite a novel that was, in essence, a fictionalized account of the client’s real-life experiences. She was aggressive with timing, and we complied. Despite high expectations and tight deadlines, the process was really joyful. There was a lot of laughter along with the work. Additionally, I got these characters, and both Corey and the client always seemed happy with the chapters I gave them. The final product was one we were all very proud of. But over the next few months, for several reasons, things went bad. The relationship with the client—and, thus, the book—soured and then ended. I remember how shocked I was when Corey told me about this, and saddened by how it tainted my own memories of the experience, and the book’s future.
The interesting thing was that, after Corey told the story today, Annie suggested continuing with the same one next week, to push deeper into some gaps she felt. On my end, I thought, What gaps? Because I knew half of the story experientially and the other half already through Corey, I felt as though everything had been explained. This really highlighted to me the importance of objectivity—especially when writing autobiographically.
See, you know the stories of your life. You can revisit them, recreate them in your mind, hold out your hand and push against them and feel as they push back. Memory is perhaps our greatest blessing as human beings . . . but there is no objectivity in it. It isn’t until someone asks us, “But what happened after that?” that we become aware that we haven’t told the whole story. We’ve lived it; we still live with it. But when writing autobiographically, that isn’t enough. You need to ensure that your readers live it, too. That’s why Corey brought Annie and me on board.
So, to finish this post off, a note of appreciation to our team: We’re better together. Cue the “Aww”s now.