Confessions of a Memoirist
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
We’re now at T-minus 37 days until the official launch of my memoir, The Ghost Marriage. Yes, I’m excited. But accompanying that excitement is a kind of vague mortification that I’m about to lay bare one of the most painful and messy periods of my life. My bad marriage. My attempts at revenge. My failings as a working mother. And yes, my talking to ghosts.
They say to write a memoir as if no one will read it, and I certainly did that. When it looked like the book would actually be published, I changed everyone’s names, deleted or tempered some of the language, and warned family members about what was to come. (My children have promised they won’t read it for many years, if ever.)
Most of my close family and friends heard the story in real time, of course. And I have no problem with readers who don’t know me at all. But between those two demographics lies a vast population of former neighbors and acquaintances, school classmates, work colleagues, and countless social media “friends” who know me in some superficial way and presumably have already formed opinions about me and the life I’ve lived.
In my daily life, I try to come across as a fairly smart, confident woman who excels at what she does. I’ve worked hard to be respected as a professional, tried to be admired as a person and a friend, and prefer to be seen as pulled together in a subtle, Eileen Fisher kind of way. My personal brand is organization and order. Yep, that’s the look I’m going for.
Now I’m about to lift up the moldy carpet and show the world what’s been crawling underneath. In The Ghost Marriage, you’ll see me failing at online dating, using the F word with abandon, having some great sex, and occasionally thinking less-than-loving thoughts about my teenaged daughter. The decade in question is a world of messy chaos. So the idea that so many people I know will be reading this is, quite literally, embarrassing to me. I’ve compared it to standing on a street corner and opening my bathrobe for all to see.
But then I ask myself: don’t all memoirists feel this way on the advent of publication? Perhaps this is just an occupational hazard. In any case, whether we’ve never met or you’re the girl who sat behind me in tenth grade social studies, of course I hope you’ll buy the book. And I hope you enjoy it. May my secret life of chaos be your next great beach read.