The danger of writing your life story

No matter how skilled you are in self-publishing, it’s always dangerous to write your own life story – or at least a part of your life story. You’re not only opening yourself up for questioning about your perceived amount of experience and expertise, but you are also freezing yourself in time. People will forever judge you for who you were at the time of publication.

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In my case, I was not only excessively preachy when I published the first edition of my memoir, Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter, but also showed how little I understood about indie publishing: you never, ever, ever do everything yourself. Always hire professionals for editing and production!

The manuscript was riddled with errors: it was repetitive, at times redundant, and lacked focus. I’m embarrassed to say how many times I published and re-published this book until I was satisfied with it.

Thankfully, today’s edition is the one I am finally going to let rest. This is largely because of the services of a proper editor and formatter – two necessities no author can overlook, ever, under any circumstances (JT Formatting is awesome, guys).

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But script errors aside, I was most embarrassed about the arrogance of my certainty the first time it went to print. I was so desperate to convince myself, more than anyone else, that Judaism and Christianity could fit together, even if it meant ripping off or softening some corners of the puzzle pieces to make it happen. I took on the role of a biblical exegist when I shouldn’t have, and I’m pleasantly surprised no one called me out on it on Amazon.

By Round Three of publication, it finally occurred to me: I’m writing this book because I believe I have a story to tell. Who cares if I fail to convince people of anything? Good memoirs have story arcs just like novels; they should pull readers in no matter how “out there” the author’s life is. Some of my favorite memoirs are written by people who have lived things I haven’t, and honestly hope I never do.

Honesty was my next and only ‘agenda’ for the final re-write.

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And there will still be people who throw out this book solely for the author’s theology. All I can say is that I wrote about God the way I experienced him in my life. I deleted any and all references that my way was the only way.

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And finally, in the name of utmost honesty, I gave up presenting myself as any kind of expert and let the raw doubt show. The brand-new epilogue is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best part of the whole book.

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If anyone has written a memoir with an ending that suggests they understand all there is to understand in this world, I’d like to check back with them in five years.

It is always better to be known as someone who questions than someone who knows everything.

***

PSA announcement: the Kindle version of this book will be FREE next week, May 11th and 12th, on Amazon

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About Beth Caplin

Just an author, blogger, and editor working hard so my cats can have a better life.
This entry was posted in Theology, Writing & Publishing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The danger of writing your life story

  1. Thanks for your honesty and all the best to you

    Like

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