Saturday, April 23, 2011


Weird things people say when they find out I've written a memoir.

“Who is the memoir about?

Some people think you need to be a celebrity to publish a memoir. That confusion is understandable. A few agents told me the memoir wouldn’t sell because I wasn’t a celebrity, so if the gatekeepers are saying no, then it’s understandable that people who aren’t even in the business would be confused.

“Maybe I can finally figure out who you are.

This might seem a strange comment, but it actually makes sense.

I never talk about myself. I never talk about my past lives. I willingly left them behind. And how do you convey an event or a series of events in a light conversation? In a few sentences? It can’t be done, so why try to share it? Especially if the story is dark. People don’t want to hear about that kind of thing when you’re out for dinner. It’s not the time. And maybe if you got wasted enough to share some dark corner of your life, chances are you’d regret it once the hangover wore off. So I can totally understand the bafflement 95% of people feel when I tell them I’ve written a memoir. And stranger still, that anybody would want to publish it. Because live and in person, I’m pretty ordinary. Boring, really.

But as you get older, you begin to realize that those events you stuck away shaped who you are, and maybe it’s time to take them from the bottom drawer and examine them. If you dare. Because it’s a head trip.

I’m working on a second memoir, and more bafflement comes my way. “A second one? I don’t get it. Why would anyone write more than one?”

I’ve come to realize that many people, including the media, confuse memoir with autobiography. There’s a huge difference. Memoir is an artistic interpretation of an event or events. It could be about a day, a week, a month, a year. Or a lifetime. So a single person might have many memoirs in her.

I thought this second memoir would be easier, but I'm struggling with the same issues that I now suspect come with the memoir territory. How to make true life a page turner. How to broaden the story so it is more than the sum of its parts.

A dead body. I'd kill for a dead body right now. Really wish I would open a closet door and find the beef-jerky remains of a man dressed in a leisure suit. Or at the very least, a fetus in the attic.

I have to remind myself that I've been through this before. And the story came together before. And it will be okay without a dead body. And once it starts sounding like a memoir, I know I'm off track.

This week I sent out fifteen ARCs of The Orchard, and realized that no one outside people in the publishing world, the publishing world including friends who freelance edit, have read this book. No one. Gulp.

I still have a few ARCs left, so if you are a reviewer or bookseller and would like a copy, let me know.


  1. You know, you could just kill a guy.

  2. I can only imagine the scariness of it all. I rarely keep secrets, yet, I have things from my past I feel I could never share with the world. You're very brave, Theresa!

  3. Upon reading, I feel as if I'm learning so much about you, and at the same time feeling as if I've known you all along, long before we ever became friends even. It's hard to explain and I'm in need of some sleep, so I'll leave it at that. ;-)

  4. kelly, you might change your mind once you're a geezer! :)

    heather, yes, i'm having a little trouble following.:) but i think i get what you're saying, and if i get what you're saying, then that's really cool.

  5. I am so jealous of the people who have ARCs! But I love the delicious pain of longing -- and I haven't longed for the arrival of a new book in years. Ages. I SO can't stand it! (if you know what I mean ...)

    I also love the experience of "watching" you write these books. As if your act of writing is the performance art, and the books themselves are the takeaway souvenirs.

  6. never thought about all of my public...blabbing (:D) as performance art. ha! i like that. and yes about the longing. it's what makes xmas work.