In a furious blaze of synchronicity, Slate publishes a series of articles this week on memoir writing by famous memoir writers.
Alison Bechdel’s brief essay hits me the hardest. What she misses, though, is that memoirs betray everyone, even ourselves. I can’t conceive of cranking out 60,000 words that glorified myself. How boring! If I’m going to write about myself, I have big, gaping faults that, I think, are as hilarious as they are painful. A memoir cannot make another person in our lives look as badly as it makes us, the writer. It’s just not possible. Even a whiny memoir about a bad childhood can make the author look laughably unforgiving and the villains cartoonish.
No, no one asks the little old ladies what they feel, but we know they would never approve. They never do, anyway.
I’m beginning to appreciate the difficulty of what my agent has suggested. It’s far more difficult than writing fiction. Incredibly so.