Earlier this week, I attempted the impossible: at an evening writing class for adults, I addressed the topic of “telling the truth.” They wondered how much truth should be revealed. I wish now that I had brought along Inventing the Truth, in which authors of great memoirs (Russell Baker, Frank McCourt, Annie Dillard) describe how they struggled with “truth.” William Zinsser offered the advice in the quote above. He believes that you should start by considering your motives, especially when writing about pain. Avoid self-pity, whining, and revenge. Instead, your goal is to arrive “at a larger truth.” (5)
William Zinsser, editor, Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir (Boston: A Mariner Book, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998), 6.