MY SOLUTION TO THE MEMOIR
Sometimes it seems like half the writers I meet, when I ask what they write, tell me memoir. Autobiographies, tell-alls, life-stories, they’re all the same. You want to write about your life and you’re betting that others will be interested enough to pay good money to read about it.
This can be a sticky subject but it boils down to several things. One of them is ego (or vanity). We want to satisfy our ego by writing about ourselves and wait for the praise to roll in when others wow over what a great life we’ve had. Sure, it’s nice when others recognize that you’ve done something interesting that they haven’t. However, what if it isn’t all that interesting? What if nobody can relate? What if a lot of other people have done the same thing? So much for the ego.
We do it for altruistic reasons, because we think we have something interesting or compelling to tell. We’ve done something that’s truly unique. There’s a life-lesson in what we’ve done that can help others. We may have survived some life struggle and that struggle may help others through theirs. Our story is something worthwhile to society.
We do it for the humor, just because we have some goofy stories that might be interesting to others, but we don’t know unless we throw them out there. Plain and simple.
We do it for a family legacy. Family history is important to a lot of people. Generations may want to know what grandma or grandpa did back in the day. A memoir is a great way to leave them a legacy. If a few bucks can be made from it, why not?
To generalize, everyone is doing a memoir. As many times as I hear that in conversation, something like fifty percent of the time, I can comfortably say that without being too far off the mark.
What does this mean?
Ninety percent of them will never make it to the shelf at the bookstore. Don’t take my word for it. Go to your local one and take a look. See who’s represented. Recognize those names? Most of them are recognizable celebrities, good and bad. You want to get a memoir out there? Try being famous first. Then, maybe someone will read it. Does that mean you shouldn’t try and go for it? Of course not, but unless you have a very intriguing premise, to fill in that other ten percent of the names on the shelf nobody has ever heard of, you’re going to end up with a garage full of books (or a Kindle version that sits there with little sales).
Maybe that’s all you want, just something with an ISBN number in the Library of Congress with your legacy. That’s fine.
I’m no celebrity. Nobody outside of my very few web site readers here and my friends and family have ever heard of me. Who cares what kind of life I’ve had? Sure, I’ve had some interesting things happen to me, at least in my mind, but would anyone care?
The only way I can get my story out is to do it my own way without going through the hassle of publishing a book. I do it without the burden of a garage full of those books or worrying about sales figures on Amazon. Plus, I have no deadline and no editorial pressure to write any particular format or subject, or sequence. I write what I want, when I want and whatever I want to write about.
It all started last March, 2014, when our Henderson Writer’s Group publicity chairman, Tina asked me to write an article to publicize the upcoming Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. She asked me to post in a local political discussion web site called Let’s Talk Nevada, if they’d accept it. I did, they did, and after it went live, Let’s Talk Nevada asked me if I had any other non-political articles I’d like to post for their Sunday edition. They were looking for some light reading, short stories, a break from the usual political drudge.
Had an opportunity just been dropped in my lap, or what?
The pay wasn’t much, zero, in fact. Yet, how could I refuse?
How many times have I told you all I write because I love to write?
I’d already been writing these goofy autobiographical stories to my friends about life in Turkey and Spain. I thought, why not clean them up a bit and send them in to LTN and start there? I wouldn’t get paid a thing, had the freedom to say what I wanted, when I wanted and in my own sequence.
I started with living in Turkey and went from there. Almost a year later, I’m still full of stories. My regular Sunday column satisfies my memoir desire while giving my select audience a chance to see what it was like to live in these furrin’ places. I’m no celebrity, and I haven’t done anything extraordinary. However, I tell the stories in a way that’s (hopefully) entertaining, based on the feedback I get every week.
I’m probably getting more exposure with less effort than from any memoir I ever could’ve written.
So, that’s my ongoing story.