The road to the Betty Ford Clinic is littered with memoirists who want to be novelists. My own novel is 80% fact but I'm selling it as fiction. (Shhhh! Don't say anything.) Writers are basically vain, self-centered, lazy people who couldn't get real jobs in banking or sales or the healthcare industry, and most of them can't be bothered to make stuff up.
Why should we?
Why make up corny scenes that never happened when you can just write down the weird crap that happens to you every day?
Why make up dialogue when you can just copy down what your friends say?
Why make up a love interest when you can just go on a bunch of bad dates? Or write about your neighbor's bad marriage?
Why look for the "emotional truth" when no one even knows what that means?
Writing Is Easy???But It's Easier to Talk about Writing!
So yesterday Larry King Live called...
...And six hours later, Ray pulled up to Sherwood in a black town car and we're off. There was a tense moment when my brother insisted Ray take this shortcut to Portland he knows (Ray didn't take it). I busied myself with all the really smart things I would say and whether I should go with lightly tousled hair or a ponytail. (I went with tousled).
We arrived. We were whisked away. (I love getting whisked.) Into a large room, empty except for a wooden chair and a camera that looked like the Super8 cam my Uncle Freddie had in 1974 (p. 41 in my memoir).
A technician clipped a mic to my shirt, and stuck an IFB in my ear. (Fifteen years in the news business and I still have no idea what that stands for.) We consider whether to go with the "daytime" Mount St. Helens background or the "nighttime" Portland skyline. I'm wearing a light blue shirt so I ask for "daytime." The producer decides to use nighttime.
Two minutes to six I hear Larry's voice in my ear. "Just stare at the camera and talk." I can't see Larry (or anyone) and I can barely hear the other guests but I do it. I stare at the camera and talk. Stare and talk. Stare, nod and talk. It wasn't until I got home and watched the tape that I realized...
Michael Wolff is a Dick.
He called memoir a "new and squishy" genre.
Squishy??? Putting pen to paper and writing an honest, often heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious story of one's life is squishy? Gee, I thought squishy was writing for a magazine with naked celebrities on its cover and calling it journalism.
And The Oscar Goes To???
I want to thank all the people who helped make this blog possible. First to all my fans who posted comments. Thanks mom! To my brother Anthony (do you think you sold any of your books?). To Teresa for running a tight and sometimes sinking ship. To Gianna and Anthony (Jr.) who miss me (see comment). To my brother Richard, you spelled hysterical wrong. To everyone who thinks I'm funny, especially, and who read my book and left all of those sweet and touching comments about it. Thank you.
And thank you Dave at Powell's, who promised a shelf-talker blurb and also to put my books in the window if I plugged Powell's on Larry King.
You like me, you really like me...!
Shout Outs to....
- Steve Martin, who wrote a hilarious essay for the New Yorker titled "Writing is Easy." (I told you Rule #1: I will shamelessly steal ideas.)
- Kudos to Drew Barrymore for going on SNL to make fun of herself and her "golden globes." Cool.
- Vince and Owen for making me laugh this week.
- And especially to Mark who always makes me laugh.
And to all you aspiring writers out there, I'd like to leave you with this???.
"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon who one can neither resist nor understand."
— George Orwell, 1946
Books mentioned in this post
Carole Radziwill is the author of What Remains: A Memoir of Fate Friendship