Get Over Yourself and Write a Novel, not a Memoir

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11/24/2009 2:56 PM |

Queen of the literary internet and novelist-in-progress Maud Newton has an essay in the L.A. Times about the current (permanent?) preference, among readers, memoir over fiction. She makes several good points—having to do with the memoir as a form of therapeutic propaganda, its tendency towards self-absorption, and on the other hand its value as a vehicle for a resonant idea well stated—and closes well.

Mostly, though, I love this detail:

At 19, at the University of Florida, I took a fiction class from the formidable Harry Crews. When Crews handed back an inchoate story I’d lamely based on my father, I could feel his scorn radiating off the paper. “The creation of a monster is not the creation of fiction,” he’d written, in all caps.

Shit, man. I turned in some bad, bad work in college creative writing workshops. And every time, my instructors, bless their hearts, resisted the temptation to bring my 20-year-old self the news that I was full of shit and had wasted their time.

Tenure, we learn today, is a wonderful thing (as are teenagers who can take criticism).