Guest Blogger Shelley Blanton-Stroud on Fact and Truth, Fiction and Nonfiction
t took me quite a while to figure out what my book, Copy Boy, would be, my trouble mostly arising from the gap between fact and truth. Facts are verifiable things. Truth is the meaning an individual makes of the facts we choose to consider.
I first began to write ten years ago by focusing on my own family’s history of moving west to California from Texas and Oklahoma in the Dust Bowl exodus of Okies looking for work in the Great Depression. I was thinking about a memoir because I had access to the facts. My father, especially, had dramatic stories to tell, one of which now sets my book in motion. But it soon became obvious that the “facts” changed in his every retelling—how old he was, exactly where the incident took place. And the facts really changed when my father’s siblings shared their versions of the family story. That’s what happens with memory and with storytelling. Though I knew my father was telling his truth, I was unsure of what the facts really were. I didn’t think I could get a memoir right.