Post-it on my bulletin board: YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN TELL YOUR STORY.
In my second book Seedlings, Stories of Relationships, this is absolutely true. I share quite a few stories about my relationship with my husband, Hank. He is, of course, the national treasure who watches me as I scramble, backtrack, and sometimes meander down the path of my version of our current life together.
“Hank’s a good sport,” people say. “Doesn’t he feel funny having this story be about him?”
“It’s your story,” he says when I ask him. He is secure in knowing who he is. I share my writing drafts with him. He gives me his feedback. I value it. We trust each other. We have an agreement. If there is any story he is uncomfortable with, out it goes. Lucky guy. So far, they have been quite complimentary.
I’m an identical twin and for many years my twin and I were considered an entity. After writing my first book Thinking of Miller Place: A Memoir of Summer Comfort, I realized I how much I cherished our twinship. I also realized I was the only one who could write about our childhood from my perspective. Her viewpoint can be slightly different about memories—sometimes vastly different. That is her opinion.
It made no sense and continues to make no sense if someone says, “But you shouldn’t feel that way” or “That’s not what happened.” A writer has the freedom to write as her brain, eyes, and heart see, feel, and know the truth.
My relationships with my husband and my twin sister are the most intimate ones of my life right now. Should my twin or my husband choose to write a story about us from their point of view, that is their story. I just hope they remember how sweet, generous, and modest I am.
You are the only one who can tell your story.