Ten Reasons Not to Sleep with an Essayist

January 31, 2012 § 1 Comment

From Amaris Ketcham at the Bark blog:

1. The essayist will take pride in neuroses. He will go on an on about the joy of scratching his ear with a pencil or brag about how long he hasn’t driven a car.

2. Everyday outings, such as going to the grocery store, will become overwhelming adventures. Huge adventures, like swimming with whale sharks off the coast of the Yucatan, will sound like everyday activities.

5. You will not know whom you’re with at any moment: the character, the narrator, the persona, or the person. You will begin to wonder if you are a character or a person and sometimes narrate the recent past as if a memory from childhood. He will hear you and violate your POV.

6. She will continually write about her mother or her days as an addict or some ethereal night in a place you do not know. You will think that she’s working through a trauma; she will say, no, she’s working on a book.

The remaining reasons can be found here.

Scatter Plotting the Truth of Memoir (With Pretty Pictures)

September 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

Amaris Ketcham, a regular blogger over at Bark, has a fresh response to Ben Yagoda’s possibly facetious scale for determining the “truth” of a memoir. We were charmed by her wit, but then she made our heads spin by plotting a truthfulness chart with clouds and a star and a moon, followed by a tasty pie chart of falsehoods, and a scatter plot of Deceit vs. Craft Vs.Tricks vs. Belief. A case of extremus graphicus, surely. But the pictures are just so wonderful, we had to point the way.

Here’s an except following by our usual link to the source:

I’ve always disliked the debate over whether a memoir has to be 100% factual. Sure, I understand that no one wants to read a memoir that’s completely fabricated and only sold as a memoir for marketing. But applying any kind of coherent structure or narrative to the past is fictionalizing it. Truth and fact aren’t the same things–Truth is more important than Fact. Well, you know both sides of the debate. I decided to put my writing to the test with their scale. Here’s what I my graph looked like: As you can see, something screwy happened when I plotted out my writing according to it’s factuality. After deducting some points for all the fake names that people had given themselves and I had recorded as their names (look, if you call yourself Rookie Foolery, I’m not going to write you as “Kevin”) some more points for not fact-checking details (was it sunny that day in New Mexico? who knows? can I make an educated guess?), and some points for dialogue, I added some points for establishing a contract with the reader up front and making fun of the character that was Younger Me without deprecating other characters. Then I plotted out some clouds and a star and a moon, connected it all to some mountains and town in the foothills. Dammit. I couldn’t help adding a scene.

Read the Entire Scatter Plot Blog Entry here.

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