An Approach to Life Writing
Increasingly, people are writing their own life story and also the life stories of family members. It is a form of psychological literature where people express their perceptions and emotions about people and places in their lives.
Another form of life writing is based on imaginary interviews with people like Mahatma Gandhi, Coco Chanel, Winston Churchill, Christopher Columbus and many others. This is based on factual research and interpretation of the evidence. I call these biographical interviews, or BioViews® for short.
How do we understand the thoughts and experiences of others?
There are always facts and for every fact there is an opinion. However, in writing an opinion one needs to consider psychological issues. The first law of psychology is that, only I know what I think. Even that can be a flexible law, as our thoughts change over time. Therefore, all life writing is based on psychological frameworks.
Trying to reflect the life and thoughts of another person is challenging. Were they happy or sad? Were they well off or poor? How did they make their great contributions?
Forms of Life Writing
There are three main forms of life writing.
- Autobiographies – are written by the individual to paint a picture that they wish others to believe to be true, based on the facts they wish to disclose. Most of the people in the Amazing People Worldwide® series did not write their own biography.
- Authorized Biographies – are written about someone who has agreed to have an interpretation on the facts of their lives exposed for public gaze. Some of those included in the Amazing People Worldwide® have had other people write their story, but in a different way.
- Unauthorized Biographies – by definition are not written with permission, but seek to reflect aspects of a person’s life based on the facts.
The BioView® Idea
The term BioView® is the combination of two words – biography and interview.
I first got the idea for BioViews® when I imagined what it would be like to be there when Tchaikovsky was composing his piano concerto in B flat minor.
It would have given me the chance to find out how he was thinking and understand his creative approach. Taking the idea further, I thought it would be useful to imagine an interview on his life and that of others.
As a form of life writing, BioView® changes the name of the game. Instead of the life being written about, in the third person singular, it takes on a personal form. For example, it is as if Shakespeare returns and gives his thoughts on what it was like to leave Stratford on Avon and go to London. Indeed, there is no record of his experiences, but we can imagine what it was like.
Most of the people involved never gave an interview during their life. If they did, it has not survived. Therefore, a BioView® is a way of helping create a better understanding a person’s life. For example, William Shakespeare’s BioView® is written as if he was speaking about his life and times. It reads in the first person, as his personal thoughts.
If we make assumptions about Shakespeare’s thoughts, we go into the realm of psychology. Only Shakespeare would know what he really thought. Of course, Shakespeare used the same biographical psychology approach with the characters in his plays. He put words into their mouths to reflect what he assumed they thought. Shylock’s speech in the Merchant of Venice is a very good example.
What about others who were not playwrights and did not record their thoughts?
For example, Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare’s wife. What did she think about the great playwright and their marriage? In the BioView® about her life, I have assumed what she could have said about her life based on the facts available. I hope that she and William Shakespeare would approve.
Should we attribute to Michelangelo, Galileo or Leonardo da Vinci what they thought about their great contributions? There have been theatre plays and books written about all their lives. Each of the books and plays make attributions about their lives and thoughts. BioViews® do the same, but with a difference. It provides a modern voice, as if it were the persons themselves that were telling the stories.
The Role and Function of BioViews®
BioViews® are a new style and possibly a new genre. It is an approach that can be used for educational purposes, particularly role plays. There are wider educational applications for those interested in how individuals contributed their communities and countries.
It is a form of what is increasingly call edu-tainment where fact and opinion meet in an exciting format that goes beyond the facts. In this case BioViews® are contributing to the emerging field of Life Writing, where we can have a debate about what Shakespeare, Leonardo or Galileo would have said if we had met them and asked some interesting questions.
Indeed beyond the psychological issues, what questions of philosophy, sociology, politics and other areas of importance would you ask of those who you regard as an amazing person?
Amazing People Worldwide® provides a wide range of BioViews® on people who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of engineering, aviation, business, the arts and sciences. All of them highlight stories which can inspire people to improve their performance and achievements. I invite you to come and meet many of these talented people through their amazing and unique BioViews®.
Dr Charles Margerison, Author and President of Amazing People Worldwide®.