Friday, April 10, 2009

"If you didn't do some crying while writing this book, then the book's not done."

QUESTION: Can a person write his or her autobiography or memoir (there is a distinct difference) without crying at some point?

I'm editing a memoir right now that is very well done. There are some issues to be addressed, sure. But they're all very common and easy fixes (so far), except for one...

The author is good at humor. This is a skill. This is great. I read the Table of Contents and laughed. That was good.

Yes, there are moments that the humor can be cut, when it is forced or the hyperbole is too obvious. No problem. But this is a story about brokenness and disfunction. It is the story of a mother, daughter, and daughter's daughter trio. There are some really sad truths behind the humor, and sometimes I want to cry instead of laugh, but I can't, because the author won't let me. She forces me to laugh.

Is this good? Is it okay? Will readers feel cheated, or am I just an emotional basketcase who enjoys crying too much?

I've written some of my own story, and there was a lot of crying involved in that endeavor. Perhaps I didn't see enough humor in it as I was writing; there's definitely humor there; but that wasn't the purpose of the exercise, so maybe what I'm really doing here is asking this author to do what I did. Maybe I'm being too subjective.

In conclusion, because I'm clearly failing to pull my thoughts together: I'm going to think through these things and find a cohesive way to express them to the author. Currently my note reads: "Your reader wants to feel like you’re telling the truth more often. If you didn’t do some crying while writing this book, then the book’s not done. Some of the harsh reality needs to come through; I think a person who picks up this book doesn’t want just a humor book. And a book that makes you laugh AND cry will make you all the more marketable."

Still thinking...

(Also, in case you were wondering, that's only a snippet of my thoughts-note.)

No comments: