Hating the Memoir

I spent most of yesterday in bed, alternately quaffing cold meds and reading a newly released memoir. This was not as much fun as it sounds. The memoir disappointed me.

I had been told by a trusted blog friend that it wasn’t well written. The beginning was thin, but she had a few scenes that were gorgeous. I began to get suspicious. It wasn’t that she couldn’t write, but that she wasn’t writing well. The ending was strong, and then I read the acknowledgments.

Every word of her acknowledgment section was about how hard the process was, and how grateful she was to a wide variety of people who helped her along the way. Aha! She hated the process, hated writing a memoir, it made her feel uncomfortable, no wonder it was not as strong as it should have been.

And so I wonder if the time wasn’t right, and she couldn’t afford to wait, as she needed another book to be done. She had an advance and she couldn’t have the time to get it right, to send it through that one more draft and to change her format (which I think was one of her problems). It’s at times like these where I wonder if we—the closet writers—aren’t a little bit lucky. Although we don’t have the accesses to grants or advances, we at least have time to do it right.

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8 responses to “Hating the Memoir

  1. But really, how do we know when it’s right?
    I know when my columns are as done as they can be, (sort of), deadline does get in the way sometimes.
    But longer projects, I’m not sure. Some parts feel just right, but others sit and sizzle like uncooked bacon, smells great but still bendy.

  2. I think about this a lot. Sometimes you don’t want to write but then you do, and you’re so glad you did. Other times it just isn’t working. When is it a case of needing to push yourself harder and when is it a sign that you ought to be writing something else entirely? Ponder ponder.

    • Unwritten Word,
      Yes! Exactly. How do you know if you’re writing historical fiction but you’d really be a kick ass science fiction writer? I wonder this all the time. I think people assume that if you’ve stuck with something for a long time, or if you’re drawn to it, it presupposes that it is where you are meant to write, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true.
      Maybe it’s because I’m hoping my brilliance is hiding and I just haven’t found the right form yet…
      It’s hiding really well.

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