Funny You Should Mention That


Helpful comments I’ve heard lately on the way to the memoir:

You already have the story.  That’s all I’m saying.  Fiction — now that’s art, that’s real creativity.

Come on, you embellish.  You do.  You’ll never convince me you don’t.  ….  Sorry, I don’t mean you personally, I mean all nonfiction writers.

Memoirs are just a another kind of fiction.  If you buy a memoir, you’re just a victim of marketing.

How do you figure it’s your place to tell that story?  That takes some serious ego.  Um, no offense.

Oh, you write nonfiction.  You don’t need to use metaphors or anything.


What kind of help have you received lately?

34 thoughts on “Funny You Should Mention That

  1. Sarah W

    Yeah, no offense . . . Sheesh, Teri!

    Two weeks ago: “Hey, I found this ad for PublishAmerica and thought maybe they could help you.”

  2. CJ Rice (@leapof)

    Just returned from the Aspen Writers Conference. Beautiful. But did I see the purple mountains majesty? No. I was immersed in a novel editing workshop with four other writers and their four other novels. Very amazing and very inspiring. Still there was that moment of course. Auto biographical fiction critics say things like this, “it’s easy to just open a vein on the page, what I’m doing is harder”. Yeah, and less compelling.

  3. Les

    Good lord, have you been chatting with a bunch of math majors?! 😉 I had a gf in undergrad school who was a biochemist. To quote: “What’s this Lit major bullsh*t? You read the book. You liked the book. End of story.”

    1. Teri Post author

      End of story. (shrugs and brushes hands to together for emphasis)

      By the by, Les, I’m back in town, so whenever you have time to meet for a drink or coffee before heading back over the hill, let me know.

  4. Averil Dean

    No offense? What a crock!

    Helpful advice for me includes the myriad ways in which people explain that erotica is the lowest form of fiction writing. Sex should only be inferred, the door should remain closed. Why spell it out? Why not write a real novel?

    1. Teri Post author

      Shame on you for opening those kinds of doors, Averil, and spelling it all out. I bet you don’t use chapters or dialogue or metaphors, or even page numbers — it’s all sex sex sex sex sex.

  5. LauraMaylene

    Oh my god, these are awesome. I would like to introduce these people to the people who have looked me right in the eye and said, “Oh, you write fiction? I only read what actually happened” or “What’s the point if you just made it up?” or “I can’t imagine anything more interesting than what really happened.” I think they’d get along great.

    Must remember to say something really offensive and follow it up with “no offense” at least once this week. Also, to become a victim of marketing more often. Those damn nonfiction writers, fooling me by writing their books in compelling and artful ways (except for the lack of metaphors, of course)…they’ve tricked me with all their embellishments!!

    1. Teri Post author

      Those lying bastards, embellishers and market-conscious suck-ups, with their lack of metaphors. No offense.

  6. lisahgolden

    Well now, it’s one thing for my inner critic to say these kinds of things, but an exterior critic? That deserves a karate chop. No offense, yo.

    1. Teri Post author

      In the interest of full disclosure, I poked my fun at the metaphor story at breakfast one morning, only to have the person who said it speak up from the other end of the table, “Hey, I said that!”


      1. Teri Post author

        It would be one thing if she realized that statement made no sense, but she continued to defend it. With vigor. She’s kind of asking for that karate chop.

  7. Downith

    No offense but… This is only ever said when the person realizes that what they’re saying is offensive but feel that if they throw “No offense” in, it’s okay.

    Me, I’m cringing every time someone asks me how my book is coming. Wishing I’d never said squat.

    1. Teri Post author

      No matter how often people have advised me to never, ever say I’m writing a book, I can’t seem to help myself. When asked what she does, a writer friend of mine replies with, “I teach Middle English, Chaucer, and the poetry of John Donne.” She claims it brings all questions or further conversation to an abrupt halt.

      I met a writer last week who said she never tells people what she’s writing about. “What’s your book about?” they ask, and she says, “I don’t know yet. It’s not finished.” — Love that answer. Not to mention, it’s also true.

    1. Teri Post author

      I’m so happy to got to see our Sherry, Cat. I was just reading you over at Averil’s and it sounds like you have a houseful. And no beer!! That’s one hell of a crisis, my friend. I hope you can send one of those kids to the market.

    2. Teri Post author

      Oh, and I AM still coming to Italy, but will only be in Rome for 3 days. I’m so bummed I’ll miss you, but that just gives me a reason to come back.

      1. Catherine

        Yes do come back! I have a lot of bars and gorgeous piazzas up my sleeve! Enjoy Rome and watch the pickpockets. Go to Via della Pace and have an aperitivo ciao cat

  8. jpon

    The only drawback of a self-designed writing retreat is that there aren’t other writers to bounce ideas and passages off. Right now I’d even take some bad advice. Guess I’ll have to wait until I get back home for that.

    1. Teri Post author

      Careful what you ask for, Joe! I’m guessing you’re doing great with your book. Keep that bacon coming —- I hear it’s good for appropriate metaphor production.

  9. Lyra

    “I don’t know how to do that.”
    “I don’t know what to tell you. It has to be done,” said while walking away.

    Imagine taking a test on physics after learning earth science.

    1. Teri Post author

      That is SO helpful. I don’t know who that person is, but I’m guessing he or she may be repaid this favor one day. Soon.

    1. Teri Post author

      Indy, I see your poetry and raise you a Capote: “Who is Truman Capote?” Also said in a grad school program … for writing.

      1. independentclause

        …. Whoa, you win. Although the other one that boggles my mind is the reaction to my saying “I’m sad that Lewis Nordan died” in a crowd of writers. “Who?”

      2. Teri Post author

        I’m a competitive wench, but that is one I wish I could lose. Seriously, how sad is that?

        As for poetry, I thank my passionate poetry teachers, Michael Dennis Browne and Sam Maio. I still remember the first time I discovered Anna Akhmatova and Robinson Jeffers and soooooo many others.

  10. Deb

    My, oh my, oh my. I’d like to bop a couple of those noses on your behalf as a reminder to keep them out of your business. The sister in law’s husband asked to read my ms. I said yes! Sure! He cornered me at the table during a party, so it was easier to agree. There is no way I’m sending it to him. The sil begged to read a chapter a while back and called me especially to let me know that although she’s quite certain I chose my words carefully, she would never read the book. He might be genuinely interested, but I think it would be more a mission to find out what a bad writer I am and make sure I know it.

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