How to Write a Memoir

1. Memoir must be about vulnerability. If you’re thin, you have a fat soul; if you’re fat, you have a thin person inside. There’s a shovel inside the shovel…
2. For vulnerability we should substitute a hundred words. One is “susceptibility”–we are susceptible to both complex and simple thoughts and emotions. None are extraneous. Only Capitalism tells us otherwise.
3. There’s a desire under your desire, like the color green in your ribs. Pay attention to “under the ribs”.
4. Vituperation. Everyone is trying to be nice. But its good to say things like: “he was a desperate Santa Claus who beat his wife”–let things out. Roses really want to grow, but so do thistles.
5. More vituperation. In “Planet of the Blind” I describe an old professor who was cruel to me by imagining him snacking on turds.
6. Dare to be forgiving. Dare is the right word. Yes, its a gamble.
7. Open strange doors, just to see what’s there. If its a tiger you can always throw him a strawberry.
8. Disability is “Proteus”–not Jesus.
9. Walk like an Egyptian. (I just wanted to say that.)
10. Optimism. Cultivated. Quote from Helen Keller: “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”
11. Resisting inspiration. Overcoming Tiny Tim’s pornography collection.
12. But if inspiration leaks out, because you are persistent, think of it as the imaginative respiration of leaves, a la Whitman.

1 thought on “How to Write a Memoir

  1. Shovels

    There is a shovel inside the shovel,
    Like the thin man inside the fat man.

    It wants to dig the shovel’s gave.
    It wants to step forth, like a light,

    emerging from the light. But the shovel
    straps it, iron and wood. The shovel

    thinks of it as a wish, it thinks of him
    as a symbol. Together they chew the dirt.

    Were they to part, one would go up like
    a burning geyser, and one would take root

    and bear apples. And one would fly through
    the house like a shout, waking the spoons.


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