words of conscience: a writer’s nightmare

conscience writing Sometimes I sit here and ask, why am I writing? The answer is: I am working on a project for others. I am doing an autobiography on behalf of someone. I find it hard not to think the way I think or put in my own values in others’ lives. My perspectives. My conscience. Why am I writing another person’s “autobiography”? Why is she not writing it herself? It is her story. To be fair it should be her burden. Her own conscience. Not mine. Why bother? For money? No. I do this project for free. For fame? No. It is her name and not mine that will receive all credits and fame. For relationship? No. She was a stranger until I was invited to write for her. She is still a stranger. I have not been able to know this person. I only know what she says she is from the transcription done by another former journalist based on her audio recording. She does not really say much of what she thinks. She merely tells stories and accounts from her life experience with others. Others’ stories mingled with hers. When I interviewed her and tried to gather more so that her memoir has more factual depth and soul reflection about her, I failed. It was like I was confronted with a blank wall. I never realized the difficulty caused by the superficiality of intermittent stories which insist on being put into an integral book calling itself autobiography or memoir. My conscience says, No. This is not how the book should be written. If she writes it herself, she can call it whatever she reckons it to be. She can tell stories and other stuff based on her own imagination, perception, and recall of a past real or imaginary. It will be her conscience and not mine at stake. I read my favorite guide book, written by my best friend, God Himself, the Bible. Everyday He speaks to me through some verses specifically. One day I was shown this verse which I had never paid any attention before. I was reminded of Apostle Paul’s conscience. This is what he wrote:
[From the Bible 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 New King James Version Paul’s Sincerity
12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.
13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.]
The exact advice I received therefore from the Apostle Paul for writing (or copywriting) is: write in simplicity and godly sincerity.
This is the most difficult challenge for a writer. If I am writing my own memoir I can fall back on my conscience (and values). But if I am writing other’s memoir how can I? This has become like an endless nightmare. Is the language boastful? Am I misleading others? Because the book has a purpose to raise funds for a charitable course the burden is heavy. If I had followed the original audio transcriptions it would not sell. It would not appeal to the heart-string that pulls the purse. What am I to do? Follow or not follow?
Since I had agreed to this project and had spent the last seventeen months on it and had already produced the book in English language last May, and now working on another book in another language, I cannot back out. Languages and cultures differ in terms of telling stories and reading stories. The language with its own prejudicial presupposed-value and cultural preferences create further complication and distortion on the truth.
An English writer or copywriter or translator attempting to write in another language knows the almost impossibility of writing truthfully trying to retain the original English meaning in another language. Not only that readers of another language have different words they think differently and have different values. We need to get into the mind and life of that language to be truthful. Such are the challenges of a dual-lingua writer. First you get into the language and life of your English story-teller. Then you get into the languages and lives of your readers of both languages. Suddenly you become a split personality. We are not just mere pen-wielders. We are livers (or experiencers) of others’ lives and words. Willingly or not, we have no option except to follow the flow of the language we write in. Coming back to my initial question, how to write in simplicity and godly sincerity? My resolution is to be humble and trust the ultimate Writer Himself to pull me through. After all, He created languages and words.