When people aren’t happy

Today I received a text from a friend of the person I’m writing my latest book about.

He’s a nice guy. A great guy. A wonderful guy. But he thinks a biography should be 100 percent positive, and the true confirmations of a person’s character come from glowing stories.

I disagree.

Character is measured positively and negatively, and is extremely complicated. A man who steals can have high character. A man who prays daily can have low character. There is no exact measure. No 100 percent way of knowing. But, if we only focus on a person’s good deeds and shining moments, we fail to know who the individual truly was, and what made him special. We’re all flawed—it’s how we approach, accept and deal with those flaws that reveals us.

PS: I hate Vlad signing with Baltimore—the graveyard for no-longer-significant athletes …

4 thoughts on “When people aren’t happy”

  1. I agree with you, Jeff.
    A 100% positive biography of anybody would most likely be a really boring read.
    Everyone has failings and those and how they are dealt with and affect a person are generally what makes life stories interesting.

  2. The temptation for me in my book about Ant was to gloss over some of the missteps he took in his past. I genuinely liked the guy. Still do. Part of the reason I liked him so much was because he trusted me with so much of his life—he opened up to me the way he never did with other writers and reporters. So I almost felt bad, writing about bad things he’d done. Which, to be clear, wasn’t anything particularly horrific. But he definitely wasn’t some perfect person.

    The thing about those negative things: they make the positive things mean so much more. Ant’s story was one of pursuing redemption. Which meant that he had to be redeemed of something. Baring all the bad alongside all the good made the good that much more meaningful when it finally happened.

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