I have to admit that I was immediately sucked in by the fact that this is a Roald Dahl quote in particular and I immediately wanted to know when he said it and why. It is a quote from his autobiographical collection of childhood stories, ‘Boy’, and now I am very keen to finally getting around to reading this particular volume. Apparently he decided when drafting the book, only to include stories that could be considered spectacular and of course, that is what makes a good memoir and with Dahl in particular you know what he is capable of with regards villains and heroes and frankly, well, tales of the unexpected! So it is all the more intriguing that he has chosen to argue that truth is a virtue above all else, because what is he as a novelist other than a spectacular (and hugely entertaining!) liar?
I guess with this volume in particular you are given glimpses into the real life characters that probably formed some of the fictionalised ones in his stories so that is the truth behind the fiction. And the idea that to whitewash the truth or somehow gloss over parts of the story that portray you in a negative light is plain wrong and you should, essentially, own up and come clean, really make sense only in the context of silly boyhood things that one does as a misguided child. It is telling that there are no adult memoirs from Dahl claiming the same the rash virtue!
For me, as a blogger, and a user of social media in general, I try to be as honest as possible but of course the act of writing about oneself is a constant decision making process – should I talk about X? Should I risk having a rant? And to some extent – what kind of person do I want the world to identify me with? Let’s face it, you have a licence to entirely fictionalise yourself when you start up a blog, but really, I don’t think that’s what most of us want to do. Otherwise we’d just write a novel, right? But at the other end of the spectrum there is the social media user who glosses and spins and would never dream of even contemplating those three dreaded little words (“warts and all” – shudder). Some people over-share. Some people edit to their own detriment (because personally, I am left stone cold by anyone who claims to be a ‘domestic goddess’ or even anyone who implies that this may be the case).
Its a really hard line to walk as a writer and as a reader I have to be aware that I project my own opinions onto the writing of others too (was that compliment really a passive aggressive attack? Was that really false modesty and do I detect the flutter of demure eyelashes behind the keyboard? Is there some bragging going on here? And ultimately, am I guilty of doing any of those things myself?)…
At the end of the day (or should that be, ‘at the end of the page’?) I try to be truthful about my feelings (and my failings!) and I warm to others who do the same. I can be a green-eyed monster, I can be lazy, I can be hyper-critical and I can be insecure. But I can also be supportive, loving, analytical, creative, optimistic and charged with positive energy.
So that’s me. How much of the truth are you prepared to share about yourself?