The Write Way
I've been doing a lot of messing around with pictures on Facebook lately. Part of it is just January boredom, and part of it has been a study in family history. Most of the pictures are black and white of me and my family and were taken in the 60's. It has been a lot of fun watching the comments and feedback from friends and family.
One of the coolest things to come out of the exercise has been to hear the background behind the picture from my sisters and mom. In most of them, I am quite young and I don't remember the circumstances around the photos. My sisters are a few years older and they have a much better recall of those days. When I posted a couple, I thought they were taken at one of our old houses. Both of my sisters corrected my assumption by telling me that it was actually a different house. They did this for several pictures and circumstances around the pictures.
I say this because as a writer of memoir I realize a couple of things.
First of all it is important that you get your facts straight. It doesn't always make much difference to your audience if it's spot-on correct, but it should to you. You're telling your story from memory and as a matter of ethics, you should try to write truth. You owe it to your readers. If you can't recall the details, figure them out. Another option would be to change the story to fiction. You can still base it loosely on truth, but then the details don't matter.
The other thing I realize is that while I think I have a good understanding of some events and details, I am completely capable of making things up as the way things happened. They can become so real to me that I actually I believe they happened. The thing is, after talking to other sources, I am corrected and glad to be so.
I want it right as much as the next guy.