On Not Publishing A Memoir
August 30, 2013 § 13 Comments
In Salon this week, Emily DePrang discusses her decision not to publish a memoir of her marriage, a decision she made between getting a publisher and waiting on the final contract. DePrang offers a frank and complicated look at the reasons one might reconsider a “tell all,” the role of publishing a book in the life of a writer, and how the wisdom in some of the rejections she received from publishers ultimately rang true to her.
For many of us who work in memoir, it’s worth a careful read.
Here’s a snippet:
What stopped me was that a memoir’s quality correlates to its honesty, and my book deal would be built on a kind of lie. I would only be pretending to be at peace with my past and ready to share its lessons with the world. I’d only be acting like I thought it was okay to dish my ex’s dirt. I’d seem brave, but it would be kamikaze courage, not an earned, owned courage, not one that endures. It occurred to me that writing a memoir should be like posing nude in front of an art class for three hours, not like flashing a camera after a few tequila shots.
So I backed out. I told my agent I wanted to give the book another draft and another year. He was extremely cool about it. So was the editor who’d offered to buy it. I hadn’t signed anything, so there was no contract breakage. I simply walked to the precipice of my lifelong dream, got vertigo, and walked away.