One of the best things about writing memoirs is getting letters from people who say, “My God, your mother Pledged the paneling every week? So did mine!”
Or, “Hey, I threw up on a girl’s vagina, too.”
The kinship of shared experiences is a pretty powerful thing. And when readers see themselves in my books, I feel like I’ve accomplished something more than just the narcissism of writing about myself (as lustrously fulfilling as that is). If, in working out my personal issues on the printed page I can help somebody else work through theirs, then I’ve done my job.
I’m like a literary therapist. But with no credentials or Kleenex.
Many friends have asked me over the years if I wanted to put photos of myself in my books, to which I always respond, “Are you kidding?” I’ve read memoirs where the author inserts charming photos of his life, and it always takes me out of the book. Suddenly, it’s his story, and I’m just outside looking in.
I want my books to be your story.
Sure, you might not have played Trying to Get the Feeling on the trumpet right before having sex with a girl. You might not have performed On a Clear Day as a lounge number (with jazz hands) in front of your college theatre professor. You might not have found yourself on a runaway freight train to the altar. You might not have dressed in drag to win over your boss at an ad agency (and then done it again).
But you probably felt the same way – that panic at being different, that fear that your life was going in a direction not on any “acceptable” map, that desperate desire to be seen, but terror at actually taking the leap to make it happen.
This is why I like writing – and reading – memoirs. There’s something about knowing someone’s journey was real that makes the similar experiences that much more profound.
And seriously, some of the stupid things that happen in life? You can’t make this shit up.