Monday, July 18, 2016

Never The Whole Truth

This is a public service announcement.

I tell the truth on my blog, as far as I'm able. However, I have two caveats, one big, one small. The small one is that I'm a novelist; I tend to tell the best stories I can, which are not always completely accurate representations of What Actually Happened. I improve the details, shine up the dialogue. My children laugh and shake their heads.

The big caveat is that some stories are not mine to tell. You may notice that I never refer to my children by name on this blog. This isn't because their names are a mystery--wouldn't take much research to learn them, if you're curious and don't already know my kids--but because I don't want this blog to show up if someone searches their names. I don't think that's fair to them. I also don't run stories that feature them without their permission; if they ask me to edit or take down anything I do post, I do so immediately and without fuss. They don't ask to be written about. I use pseudonyms for other people I write about, most of the time; I consciously change or obscure details when I write about friends.

But even then, and even when I make a commitment to myself to tell the truth as far as possible in everything I write about myself, I am never telling the whole truth. I am never pretending or claiming that I do.

Truth is complicated. Truth varies by point of view. More importantly, some truths are not mine to share. They may be part mine or a tiny bit mine or not mine at all but interesting blog fodder, and I don't share them. I value my friends and their stories more than I value this blog. I always will.

I'm saying this because I know that lately the blog has been All Good News. It's been a happy festival of ALA and my books and lots of interesting travel. I got home last night from a week in Switzerland and I'll be blogging about that, because it was interesting and fun. I learned a lot in Switzerland. I learn a lot every time I travel anywhere.

And yet this isn't the whole story, not by a large part. Some difficult things are happening on the edges of my world. They aren't for the blog. They never will be. I just want to acknowledge here and now that the happy stories I've been putting up are not the only stories, not for me and not for anyone. They're simply the stories I'm free to tell.


  1. A friend just responded to my "Christmas letter" (sent in June, sigh) by saying that while she loves hearing about the accomplishments of my talented children, sometimes it makes her feel sad and wistful about her own struggles. And I was both horrified and mortified, because (a) it was never my intent to make anyone feel that way! or to write one of those braggy year-end letters that we all make fun of! and (b) just as you said, there is so much other stuff going on, less good, less positive, and less suitable (it seemed to me) for a cheery summing-up holiday letter. But now I wonder if I've made the right decision, and maybe it's better to provide something of a fuller picture. Mind you, I'm talking about a personal letter sent to a selected audience of loved ones — I think YOU are making the exact right choice for your public blog! But it is something I've been thinking about a lot lately: the story we tell vs. the whole story.

    Anyway. I ADORED "The War That Saved My Life" and am enjoying your blog very much! And it seemed time to finally tell you so.


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