Truth is more important than modesty…or is it?

BoyThis post is inspired by Sara at Mum Turned Mom’s Prompt for this week which is the above quote (minus the three little words I added there!) by Roald Dahl.

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?


11 thoughts on “Truth is more important than modesty…or is it?

  1. Great post Sam, I love that you immediately went off and researched which book this quote came from! I’m the same as you, honest as possible and never gloss over the facts. Sadly this doesn’t always go down well in real life, especially with the in-laws who’d rather talk about the weather xx #ThePrompt

    • I guess its easier to do if you have an anonymous blog – that is a whole nother thing to factor in. But yet you are very honest and down to earth and positive and that shines through in your writing. X

  2. Self censorship is always an issue with me as I have a bad experience with it before. I am careful with my entries. I have so many private post for when I want to vent out but doesn’t want to share. #theprompt

  3. I loved reading this Sam, we have such a similar view on the subject. I think it is such a fine line to tread, we want our blogs to be interesting, entertaining, honest and real while at the same time making sure that we are comfortable with everything we publish. It’s not just us that our writing affects when we blog openly, but those around us too. But, we also don’t want to go too far the other way and become impersonal and distant in what we write, because as you rightly say, that can leave people cold. Thanks so much for linking another great post to #ThePrompt x

  4. This is something I find quite tricky – not so much being honest about myself, but being honest about my feelings about others. It’s one of the things that make me regret not having an anonymous blog! For instance, someone I know well and consider a friend came out with a comment that left me shocked…my first instinct was to write about it, not only about what she said but also about how the other two of us present did – or really, did not – deal with this. There’s a lot to unpick there about negative attitudes to different sectors of society, how such thought processes can still persist in this day and age, what I could/should have said or done…but guess what, it’ll all stay unwritten because she reads my blog. And there’s loads more that I filter on a daily basis – the battle to remain happily married with three kids; the complete ineptitude of some aspects of our local school; the frankly outrageous behaviour of some of my relatives – I could go on! Oh shit, I AM going on. Sorry about that!

    It’s very tricky to remain true to myself, and yet respectful of other people’s privacy I find.

    • I just wrote quite a long reply to this and it just blooming disappeared! Essentiall I just wanted to let you know that we are on the same page. Its all to do with not making comments that say anything too personal about anyone – not touching on office politics or the ups and downs in your relationship – (and boy, I know about that…) or being critical about someone who you have a complicated relationship with. I have a few half written drafts which will never be published. I even got told to take down a post in which I mooted the (in my opinion) wonderful idea of living communally with friends (because it was indirectly critical of the burden men seem to expect of us women when we have children). *sigh* Its all about the self-editing right?

  5. We’ve approached this weeks Prompt from very different ways haven’t we?
    I agree that finding a balance between being honest in our writing and sharing too much information is a hard thing to do. I try to be positive in my posts but I’d hate to think that anyone reading it thought my life was all rainbows and unicorns! It’s hard line to walk

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