Saturday, November 08, 2008


Maybe I Did, or Maybe I Didn't
Last night I attended a lecture by an author who supposedly knows what he's talking about, on the subject of "Writing the Memoir." I have the attention span of a autistic gnat, so I didn't get much out of it. But I do remember one line that he attributed to someone whose name I can't remember. It was something like, "Writing your memoir is easy. Just make it up as you go along." The lecturer disagreed with that advice, but I like it. After all, who can remember every single detail of every single event in his murky past? And who, upon reading what you have written, could reliably dispute your rendition? He or she may disagree, because, after all, we all take away our own impressions of any given event. But, unless he can produce a documentary video of the event, his word has no more weight than yours. Also, according to Mr. Memoir, it's acceptable to take more liberties with a memoir than an autobiography. So...I think I will discard my fantasies of someday writing my autobiography and replace them with fantasies of writing my memoirs.
Orrrrrr...I can just continue to wander around all day, moving items from spot A to spot B, picking leaves out of the flowerbed, arguing with myself about whether or not it's okay to eat the Peanut Butter Cups left over from Halloween, reading 50 different blogs, working the N.Y. Times crossword puzzles, fantasizing about cleaning out the bulging closets, drawers, attic and basement, and attempting to recover my lost youth.

15 comments:

Bill Stankus said...

Making it up as you go along? Nothing new there - I do it every day. But I hate it when I paint myself into corners and I need to pee or I didn't bring lunch and my iPod.

According to the fifth law of nuclear physics, your lost youth is down the hall, third door on the left. Just say I sent you.

The Halloween Peanut Butter Cup algorithm is easily solved once you remember from which Halloween it is left over. And, cleaning bursting closets is easy - either use a back hoe or move. Simple.

Madam Z said...

Bill, you should definitely hit the lecture circuit! I'm heading down the hall right now and then straight to the rental yard for that back hoe. Thank you, thank you!

Elizabeth said...

Love the image.
Just write the first thing that comes into your head and I'l tell you it's wonderful - I was a creative writing teacher for 20+ years.
As long as it's entertaining........
I actually met a nuclear physisist recently and she was charming.
I was a bit at a loss as to what to talk about.

fingers said...

OK, but in your memoirs don't claim to have invented 'velcro' as I've taken that liberty for myself...

RiPPa said...

Autobiographies make for boring movies. I say make it up as you go. It just might turn out to be a blockbuster.

Cormac Brown said...

Robert Evans has one of the best takes on this kind of philosophy-

There are three sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.

Harry said...

First of all, you still have peanut butter cups left over from Halloween??? Mine didn't stand a chance. Second, I think it's ok to fudge enough on your memoirs to keep the reader interested. First super-model on the moon, interweb inventor, affair with Monkey Peter Tork....etc. And from what we've seen lately even out and out lies move from fiction to fact if repeated often and with conviction. Thirdly, I'll read whatever version you choose to pen.

Elizabeth said...

Glad you were tempted by the Morocco pictures.
It is an astounding country. we were there for 2 years and I dreamt of it last night!
Severe withdrawl symptoms.......

david kramer said...

I recently tried to write a novel. i always wanted to do this. I spent weeks working on it and developing a character. In the end I wrote about 3 pages about a fully developed character who seemed remarkably like me. The funny part was that after that, I had absolutely no fucking clue what the guy was actually supposed to do.
DK

Kath said...

I found you via Bill's blog. I love this idea. A memoire, although I likely need an aide memoire to get started!
Cheers!

DCup said...

I'm liking that idea, because goodness knows, I can't get off the damn dime to do more than write an occasional short story. Very short.

EmmaK said...

These days I think you have to have done something pretty unusual like been Obama's teacher or tap danced your way around the world to write a memoir. Are there lots of intriguing skeletons in your closet?

Spartacus said...

Hey Z.. I think Mr Memoir is right. Your memories of an event may be different from someone else's recollection. One can only call it as one sees it, even if that one is a delusional psycho....

Madam Z said...

elizabeth: Thanks for the encouragement! I'll try to be entertaining... ;)

fingers: Damn! I could swear I invented velcro.

rippa: Maybe I will and maybe I won't!

cormac: Thanks for the quote. I like it.

harry: How did you know I had an affair with a Monkey? I haven't even written that story yet. But when I do, you can be the first to read it.

david: That sounds like real life! We spend years developing our character then don't know what we're supposed to do!

kath: Thanks for visiting! I could use an "aide memoire" myself.

dcup: Don't be so hard on yourself. You post on your blog every single day, in spite of having an active family and a demanding day job. I'm lucky if I post twice a week, and I'm retired.

emmak: Oh boy, do I have skeletons! My closet is a veritable boneyard.

spartacus: Hey! Who're you calling a "delusional psycho?" My delusions are well-founded on vivid recollections of some of my other personalities.

Lad Litter said...

Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) wrote a great autobiography called More Please and then followed it up with a parallel memoir to include the themes and incidents he'd left out of the first. Both were brilliant.

So, yeah, just make it up as you go along.