Thursday, January 01, 2009

The 'Duh' Moment

Happy New Year! Seriously, is it already 2009? My blog celebrates 14 months of regular entries this January. It’s been alive since spring of 2006 but it was so sporadic that I think I checked my junk email account more than I posted to my blog. After my first trip to the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop in 2007 I vowed to post fiction once a week and did so through October of that year. That November I left law school in order to pursue an MFA and a life writing, teaching and hopefully publishing.

For many of you, these facts are old hat; you’ve actually been around since that November. I owe many of my original readers to Jud who took the time to read and recommend this blog to other bloggers. Quite a few of my “lurkers” are people who have met me in real life. Friends from college and high school, family members – my twin cousins stalk the blog for pictures of my kittens, here’s your prize:

and the last group would be people I met through writing related stuff: Kenyon, commenting on the MFAblog, almost going to UNH with you, or other reasons.

[BTW, we totally need to meet at the AWP Conference. Do you think we can get on the schedule as “Bloggers Cocktail Hour” – You’re followed their blogs for months, now meet and greet with your contemporaries and counterparts to discuss the experience further in person (and coordinate your blog posts for the weekend), cash bar.]

Regardless of who you are or how this blog came to your attention, I’m grateful that you’re reading my rants, recommendations, epiphanies and in general being a sucker for kitten pictures and B&W photography of snow.

All this retrospection came about after the ‘duh’ moment that gave the title to this post.

My well intentioned father, completely confused by such titles as nonfiction, memoir and essay as applied to bound books today, bought me two collections of essays for Christmas, Naked, David Sedaris and I Was Told There’d Be Cake, Sloane Crosley. The reason he did this was because I told him about my last workshop experience where two people called my short story “essayistic.” He then spent the next few weeks pressing me to answer his question if a novel could be written as a memoir.

I was completely confused.

Like Frey? I relayed the Million Little Pieces scandal to my father, but that didn’t answer his question.

Finally (after I became super frustrated and pissy) we came around to the real issue: the only difference between a memoir and a literary novel with a first person narrator is that the novel depicts fictional events. Ideally, the memoir is completely real – or at least completely the memoires of the author.

Tomorrow I’ll get into how I explained what I’m doing to my father which is worth writing out just to share his reaction. But for the time being just know that he bought these two collections of essays to help and inspire me.

The second collection, I I Was Told There’d Be Cake, certainly did inspire me. The writer is a young woman with a hillarious voice who rants on certain topics personal to her and yet sympathetic for everyone. That’s it. It is, of course, in the form of an essay.

I got one page into the fourth essay in the book and suddenly ohmigdImsoooostupid! I’ve been doing this exact same thing for the past ten years! Of course, with varying degrees of readability and knowledge of grammar, but basically with a little tweaking to fit form, any of the pieces I dubbed “comedic rants” is an essay. This is frequently what my blog is (thus the reflection earlier).

I’m going to spend some time working very hard on writing, researching and submitting essays to the appropriate markets.

Highly Recommended