Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guidelines for would-be memoirists

I was a little busy yesterday, what with a snow day, a comp day, and a whole weekend off in between (librarian's hours!), otherwise I would have posted this sooner.

I have lately been complaining to my book loving friends about how tired I am of memoir. Everyone has a story. I understand that. That everyone needs to share their story with the world is more confusing to me. Why not just keep a journal for yourself? I have been keeping a diary since I was about 10 {"I had FUN today!!" was a common passage} but I can't imagine sharing it with anyone or for that matter, that anyone would care to read it.

So it was with a bit of relief that I read Neil Genzlinger's piece in this past Sunday's New York Times Book Review.

All would-be memoirists, please take note. Genzlinger's maxims:
1-"That you had parents and a childhood does not of itself qualify you to write a memoir."
2-"No one wants to relive your misery."
3-"If you're jumping on a bandwagon, make sure you have better credentials than the people already on it."
4-"If you must write one, consider making yourself the least important character in it."

Or, perhaps...consider turning it into fiction? The agents we had for our January Finding a Literary Agent talk also weighed in on memoir, admitting that you better have a good story because the market is truly saturated.

What do all you member writers think?

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