Faculty of Creative Arts
van de Pol, Caroline, Truth in memoir, thesis, Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong, 2013. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4009
This creative work and accompanying thesis explores ideas, theory and practice associated with the key themes of truth in fiction and fiction in nonfiction, while asserting the form the writing takes, the geography of genre, may constantly be in motion. There are just as many ways to write a book, as there are ways to fly. You can leap from a high diving board, or you can start at the bottom of the ladder and slowly climb before you soar.
Truth in Memoir, the thesis, explores the tensions in truth when turning real life into art. It discusses the challenges I faced in constructing a story from a life, the desire to tell an engaging story that remains loyal to the ‘truth’. The thesis also addresses research questions about how accurately fiction or memoir might capture the truth of a story, the emotional elements that offer insights into real lives. Chapters on memory, trauma and place attempt to build a bridge between truth and the imagined, asserting that both have an essential function in both fiction and nonfiction, which is often difficult to categorise.
Ways to Fly is a hybrid memoir as novel. It’s both fiction and nonfiction, blending truth and facts, imagination and invention to create a work that might also be considered creative nonfiction. It’s a true story with real people and real places, a story of a big Catholic family in a fledgling suburb in the north of Melbourne. It’s about the divide of disability and disadvantage in society.
This thesis discusses and illustrates the theoretical frameworks and practice of writing memoir and fiction while closely examining my own writing process as I moved between biography, fiction and memoir, all the while striving for authenticity and artful representation of my story. This writing and rewriting, the thesis suggests, was not only about the aesthetics of the material but the editing process and my desire not only for truth telling but also respect for the narrative and the reader.