We often think of self-narrative as something self-grounding, reflecting the truth of a person even if that truth might change over the life course. If we take issue with this, we turn to the bare objective facts of someone’s life as a counterpoint to the unreliably subjective stories they tell. This oscillation misses the important relationship between the two, as subjective and objective weave together in forming us as the person we are as a continuous outcome of the life we are leading. As Ann Oakley writes on loc 3628 of Father and Daughter:
The stories of our lives have to be condensed and elliptical because otherwise they’re boring and the central themes get lost. We must convince ourselves as well as others of logic, linearity, evolutionary progress: it was like this, it must have been, because it’s such a good story.
These narrative imperatives reflect a gap between the reality of our lives and the stories we tell about them. They only emerge because there is a steady accumulation of potential facts, a piling up of individual elements which could be ordered in many different ways. What interests me is narrative as an interface, the point at which we struggle to make sense of who we are (and have been) through the accounts we give of ourselves, internally and to external others.