I was reading an article yesterday on the difference between a memoir and an autobiography. I’ve questioned that myself, so found the article to be helpful. It basically said that a memoir covers an event in one’s life whereas an autobiography covers ones entire life. Makes sense.
Then, at 4:00 a.m. this morning, my mind decided to re-review this theory. I could say that my book covers a single event. That event would be described as the struggle of life. But not my whole life. Just some points in my life. So, it’s a memoir. Is it too broad? There could be a follow-up so that definitely means it’s not a whole life.
I think of whole life as someone, an author, writing the story of someone else’s life. An autobiography of that person. Do people really write their own autobiography? Then it wouldn’t be a whole life because they’re writing which means something is happening.
I look at the clock. 4:15. Two more hours before I get up. I think back to the last book I read, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. It’s a memoir. She writes about her trek on the Pacific Coast Trail. But interspersed was parts of her life outside of the PCT. That sounds like my book. Some things happen and while they’re happening, I write about other things happening. Yep. I wonder if Cheryl will come out with a follow-up?
The book I’m reading now is “Alcatraz 1259” by William G. Baker. During a visit to Alcatraz – probably my 3rd, taken while a family member was visiting – 80 year old William G. Baker sat in the gift shop surrounded by stacks of his books. I was so excited for him. I grabbed one off the stack and stood in line to have him sign it. I love talking to older people. They have such a different view of things. I eased up to him and said “hi”. He stuck his hand out and I shook it as he said “hi” back. He then picked up a bucket sitting next to him and spit in it. I thought of my granddaddy who, embarrassingly, does this very loud snort, hawk and spit whenever he’s outside. Usually in a very public place. I smiled, feeling uncomfortable, not knowing what to do. He reached out to me again and I handed him my book. He asked my name so I told him. He wrote “To Michelle William G. Baker Jan 15, 2014” I smiled and thought I should probably ask him something since that was the whole purpose of meeting the author. I asked “What did you do to end up in Alcatraz?” As I said it, I felt this fear come over me. I was standing there talking to someone that had been in Alcatraz. He could’ve done something horrible. He could be a very mean person. I looked back at him and saw the little old man. He said he stole a car. Stole a car? Damn. Alcatraz seemed pretty extreme for having just stole a car but then again, Al Capone was just a tax evader, right? I felt bad for William. He slid the book to me and I took it from him. He picked up the bucket again as I walked off.
That’s a memoir. He writes about being in Alcatraz and reflecting on his life. I have a memoir. I have a novel. Wait, what’s the definition of a novel? 4:35. Is a book a novel? I’ll have to look that up.
I think about the post I put on Twitter last night of when I met RuPaul. It went viral. Yay! But I didn’t get any new followers from it. Booo. I remember meeting him. He reminded me of Michael. Super tall, skinny and fabulous. For just a minute I stood next to my brother again. He even smelled nice like Michael would’ve smelled. I love Ru. So even after our photo, I was elated to be near him, not just because he’s famous but because he’s a good person.
I wondered what I could write a blog post about today. I didn’t write one yesterday because I was combing other blogs seeking out book review blogs to review my book. Then it hit me, whatever keeps me awake should be a blog post. Brilliant! It’s so much better than those ideas that are genius that I have just before I fall asleep that I can never remember in the morning. I wonder how many scientists have cured cancer in their head just before they fall asleep and then can’t remember it in the morning.
5:00 a.m. Time to get up and write.