Why not write a memoir if most of the novel is autobiographical?
BY: William A. Glass author of AS GOOD AS CAN BE
Readers of my novel, As Good As Can Be, usually conclude that it’s autobiographical. Some have asked me why I didn’t write a memoir. The answer is that I tried writing one, got about half-way done, then kept procrastinating working on it because I hated it.
For a long time, I didn’t write anything. Then in the wee hours one morning, I woke with a dream fresh in my mind. It was a story about a washed-up salesman who drinks, plays pinball, and writes poetry. I wrote an outline of the dream, then fleshed it out into an entertaining short story.
One day, it occurred to me that the main character in the short story was a self-reflection and that I could rewrite the entertaining episodes from my memoir, cut out all the boring repetitive scenes, and construct a novel based on my early life.
The short story was written in the third person, present tense. That gave it an immediacy my aborted memoir lacked. Also, it had an omniscient narrator, which made it possible to relate important scenes where the protagonist was not present. So that’s the approach I used with As Good As Can Be.
Writing As Good As Can Be has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I managed to tell my story and put a checkmark next to that item on my bucket list. Also, I learned to write creatively and how to get a book published. Finally, based on the reaction of reviewers, I produced a great novel that readers love. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have put a book out there with my name on it.