Friday, October 16, 2009
I'm beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
My agent read my completed memoir and misses the fiction that I removed. So here we go again.
Do readers and publishers want 100% truth and a less compelling story, or 98% truth and a stronger plot? I doubt anybody knows, but that’s always been my dilemma with this material. When I had plans to publish this myself, I added a fictional device to progress the plot and make the story feel more cohesive. I removed it because my new agent felt the material should be submitted as a memoir.
The material in question probably take up less than eight pages, but it gives the characters more purpose. I've seen memoirs with some pretty big disclosure statements, but they were probably published before the Frey fray. David Sedaris is calling his latest book realish, which underscores the problem so many of us are dealing with. I keep hoping a completely new way of labeling memoirs will eventually emerge, because what exists now is too narrow. But as soon as you call a memoir fiction, you put a different set of expectations on it, diminish the story, and reduce the value (IMO).
update: We received feedback on this issue, and I'm going to disclose the tweak in preface of book. This is how I handled it in original submission.