Sunday, July 24, 2011

DANGER: Memoir Ahead

By Laura P. Valtorta

For a while I resisted falling into the memoir trap. Among our “compagni” in Writers’ Group, Debbie seemed to be doing an excellent job with her story of growing up in the Philippines, but she was an exception. Most attempts at memoir-writing seemed to be boring, unfunny, and self-centered.

But a story needed to be told. A woman came into my office and as I stared at her, I was staring into my own problems. She told her son to keep quiet and I understood her psyche completely. I wanted to tell my own weird story to help others like her. How to survive life as a bitch.

But most of my life is pretty normal. I might like to THINK I’m weird, but that’s posturing. I’m married, I have a son and a daughter, and my husband is a professor from Italy. What about this stolid normality would people like to hear? Running my first sprint triathlon? Yawn. Living as a staunch atheist in the Tea Bag South? Maybe. Running my own law office?

Bingo. People like to hear about jobs. They don’t really care about family life. After sticky stories about romance, they most want to know how we earn a living.

As an attorney, I think in terms of lawsuits. And actually, there is a lawsuit I am itching to initiate. It’s a lawsuit related to writing, stealing ideas, and copyright violation. Maybe this will interest people.

Lawsuits are about stating a position, sometimes. Maybe I can stand up to the Big Suits and win. Maybe I can be a bitch who cares about justice and triumphs.


Michelle said...

I have no objections to memoirs, if the person actually has led an interesting life. Unfortunately while all of our lives are unique, most of them just aren’t as interesting as we would like to think. It is a sad commentary on society that a story about a person surviving the physical and emotional abuse of childhood is just another run of the mill tale. I came across a woman on another site who had written her story, it was over 130,000 words (already too long), and then she said it was book one of a TRILOGY.

Ginny said...

OOOOOh. That's a scary thought.