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Walking With Scissors or An Unheartbreaking Work of Unstaggering Genius

December 11, 2007

I'm taking an online non-fiction book writing class at the moment to help kick-start a project I've been thinking about lately.

The class has about 14 people in it, all working on different projects. What's curious though, is how many of the projects being developed through this non-fiction book class aren't strictly non-fiction at all: Nine people are writing memoirs. (I'm not one of them. I'm working on a good, old-fashioned book about the arts.)

It's no surprise to see memoirs thriving in our reality TV-obsessed culture. My class definitely supports this trend. One person's writing about postpartum depression. Another is doing a book about her years working as a stripper and escort. Another is working on a manuscript about her childhood spent in and out of foster homes. There's another author in the mix who's working on a book about her experiences of running away from home. Yes, all the memoir writers in the group are women.

I wonder what my memoir would look like, should I choose to inflict my story upon an unsuspecting public (and assuming someone would consider my self-centric ruminations worth publishing)?

I had an ordinary childhood. My parents loved me -- they still do even though I live on the other side of the world. They are both still married. I have a loving husband and a sweet cat. I struggle every now again to make sense of my petty, little life, but then again, who doesn't. I try to be good. Hardly the stuff of gripping drama, is it?

Then again, perhaps it's time for a memoir which takes the piss out of the latest wave of such works that have adorned bookstore shelves and bestseller lists ever since the likes of Dave Eggers and Augusten Burroughs penned the stories of their formative years to such great acclaim. No doubt someone's already written a book like this -- an uneventful memoir about someone who's basically happy. I think it would take a lot of skill to pull off such a feat.

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