Autobiographies

March 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

What if I want to start right in the middle? What if I don’t want to wait for slight literary fame gained from the success of my first three novels to write about my own life? How old is old enough to publish one’s human experience thus far? Do I have to be a sexy female comedian in order to write a heartwarming tale of pluck and perseverance? Do I need the power and notoriety of a sex scandal, a reality television stint, a money laundering scheme in order to appeal to those seeking salacious satisfaction? Should I be a child in the midst of a war or an impoverished criminal with a story of redemption?

What if I want to write about my family? Now. What if I interview certain relatives for whom I don’t feel love under the guise of peace-making in order to get the details I need to finish the story? Manipulative? Okay. So call me human. Like everyone else, I have a plain objective to tell my story, it’s only the method that varies.

I am deeply fascinated by autobiographies. The idea of people revealing themselves is endlessly interesting. In bookstores there should be an autobiography section; a biography section is inaccurate and requires a tedious sifting through third string writers showing their needy obsession with celebrity. I may discover some professional athletes I’d never heard of, with stories of adversity that only a millionaire could share, but other than that it’s damn difficult to find a good autobiography and when I do, oh dear do I cherish it. I can even make do with novels that are presented as fiction, but judging from the book jacket or the writing under the author’s photo, you can tell, this story is about them. Delicious. The questions are limitless and they roll and melt in my head like butter on smoldering whatever-cause-there’s-butter on it and it tastes warm and salty and good.

Is there a common characteristic shared by people who write and publish their autobiographies, other than that they are human? Of course, like this blog, the internet is full of people talking about themselves, but I’m specifically wondering about books (please don’t die, Books). And do you need to be famous for people to care, for the publisher to buy your words, and the readers to take your face to the cash register and their friends to borrow it for their vacations? Would I mind being a guaranteed best-seller, an easy read, a page turner? Is it one of those things that you need to do, want to do, or convince yourself to do? Are you required to have a certain amount of arrogance, confidence, faith, vanity, turbulence, something-ness in order to publish your story and call it the truth? There must be a formula other than, “know you are worthy”. Or is it like most meaningful things in that it really is that simple, and leave it alone, Trout, just leave it alone.

I don’t think I can.

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