Monday, January 13, 2014

Memoir by Not So Ordinary Folks

It's hard for a regular person to find an agent or traditional publisher for memoir, even when the author's life was and is full of interesting and exciting events and helpful observations about their experiences. It seems the only memoir that sells is the celebrity "tell all."

Why is that? What good does it do for us to read about the rich and famous?

In my humble opinion, nothing.

Instead, I'm drawn to the memoir, often self-published or released by small and/or regional publishers. Currently, I'm reading Tree Lines by Mim Neal. I thought I knew Mim, but I'm reading about her work, travel, and family experiences with amazement. I'll be doing a review as soon as I finish up.

Another local author, Jim Davidson, wrote about his terrifying experience falling into a glacial crevass on Mount Ranier with a climbing buddy. That book, The Ledge, kept me on the edge of my seat even though I knew how the story ended.

Ann Carbine Best wrote In the Mirror, a memoir of her experience learning that her husband and father of her children was gay.

Karen Walker wrote Following the Whispers, the story of the abuse she suffered when she was a child.

Kerrie Flanagan, director of Northern Colorado Writers, just released Planes, Trains and Chuck and Eddie: a Lighthearted Look at Families.

The truth is, there are no ordinary people. To focus on reading celebrity memoir instead of true stories from regular folks is a very bad habit. Look around a little. Check out the members of the groups you belong to. Ask if anyone has written and published their stories. Check them out. You might get one of the biggest surprises of your life.

So here's my question. Has anyone out there in my blogging world (that I didn't mention above) written and published their life stories? If so, leave the title, one sentence synopsis, and link in your comment.

17 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Celebrity ones are useless. They didn't even write them.
I've read both Karen and Ann's books. Karen's will just blow you away.

Susan Mark said...

I haven't, but you might enjoy Darcy Lipp-Acord's Circling Back Home. She's an amazing writer, and she tells a beautiful story.

Karen Walker said...

Patricia, thank you from my heart for this post. I felt this way long before I wrote my own memoir. Real people telling real stories are so inspiring. And Alex, you made my day today with that comment - thank you, my friend

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Karen's book was so moving.

Julie Luek said...

Memoirs with take-aways are my absolute favorite books to read. I savor the lessons we can learn when a writer can tell their story with perception, insight and generosity. But you're right; they're a hard sell. I look forward to checking out the books you mention.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Alex, I should have known you would have read Ann and Karen's. We all first met through the A to Z Challenge.

Thanks, Susan. I'll check out Darcy's book, too.

Karen, I could never even think about memoir without mentioning yours. I admire you so much for sharing your story.

Diane, thanks for adding to the praise for Following the Whispers.

Hi Julie. It must be very hard to write about some life experiences. I have a lot of respect for those who fight through their fears and do it anyway.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I never read celebrity stuff and hate that book dollars are wasted on them.
I think many people have led extremely interesting lives but few have the talent to write in a manner that captures the uniqueness of their adventure.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - I think it's those stories of not-so-celebrated people that really give us a sense of an era and of a particular way of living. I know I've read some great 'ordinary' memoirs...

Patricia Stoltey said...

Susan, I sure agree with that. I gave up reading about the rich and famous a long time ago.

Margot, it's also fascinating to see how individuals figure out one slice of the human condition that provides a clue for solving life's many mysteries. Imagine if we could read and understand everyone's story...

April Moore said...

Up until recently, I haven't read man memoirs (either celeb or otherwise). Just in the last couple of weeks I've read two by ordinary folks: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. I thought both were very good.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I've heard of the first one, April, but haven't read it. The Glass Castle is a wonderful book. Loved it. Thanks for adding to the list.

Pat Tillett said...

I agree! I not only don't care about most celebrity memoirs, I don't care to hear most their opinions on anything. On that other hand, i really do like memoirs written by everyday people who have a story to tell. One day, I hope to write my own...

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'd read your memoir, Pat!

KK Brees said...

Memoir is arguably the most difficult genre to sell. Nobody out there in the traditional publishing world really gives a care about your life unless you're a celebrity recovering from your 18th round with drug abuse.

It's frustrating, because there are no ordinary people. Everyone has a story and everyone's life is a story. Think of the times they've lived in, what they've seen and experienced...

Just one more reason why self-pubbing is the future. We want to read about real people and their stories.

Ann Best said...

Thank you, Pat, for putting me in the "line-up." There are indeed so many wonderful "ordinary" writers/people out there that I'm so glad I've met through blogging. They seem almost as real as if we had met face to face. It comforts me to know I can still find YOU through a click of my mouse, and I hope the rest of your own journey will be peaceful and rewarding. Thanks for your support during the past (I think at least) five years :)

LD Masterson said...

It's a rare treat when you find someone with a life story to share and the gift for putting it on paper. So many stories will never be told.

writing for pleasure said...

Hi Patricia, thanks or following and comment. I have found that bloggers with the same comment box as you I am getting problems with.

Thanks for getting in touch, much appreciated.
Yvonne.