Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is Your Life Worth a Memoir?

I stumbled across an article on CNN.com about the rising popularity of memoirs, both by readers and within publishing houses.

I write a lot of essays and creative non-fiction. And I've been playing around with a memoir, although it isn't the typical hard-luck story with a happy ending. It's more like the slice of life stuff with a theme and I'm going to do some other things with it. If I ever have time to really work on it.

These are things I write that give me great pleasure. As I've mentioned here before, fiction writing is not my forte, so this is as close as I'll probably ever get to publishing fiction. At least the essays.

But are my stories that unique or worth reading? No, not at all. And that seems to be the appeal. At least with the essays. My essays generate memories for others, memories they had long forgotten, memories that aren't so different from my experiences. I have an essay I've been trying to sell, about my grandmother picking dandelions. It hasn't sold yet -- editors have all given it wonderful comments, but then add, "we just bought another essay on dandelions." Proof there is no such thing as a unique story, if you ask me.

Maybe that's the real selling point of memoirs. It's nice to see someone who faced hardship similar to yours, a book you can relate to.

My life, beyond the stories I'm writing now, is probably memoir worthy in today's market -- up to a point. There are just enough twists to make my life different, but unless I reveal some deep family secrets, not enough twists.

But I admire the people who write them and gain some fame. It takes guts to dig into the dirty closets of your family and spill those secrets to the world.

1 comment:

Patti said...

my family would have a freakin' heart attack. ooooo, maybe i'll do it....