Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Humor & Inspiration in Writing: No, I Won't Write Your Memoir

Completely unsolicited #BookSelfie
The following feature was penned by the oh-so-adorable Lydia Thomas. I became acquainted with Lydia's wit and generosity when she reviewed my book. It coincided with Becoming Beauty's blog tour and was more personal than several of the tour participants' posts. Since then I have been a huge fan of Miss Lydia and I am more than pleased to share her one-of-a-kind style with you. Enjoy! 
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I truly thought they were being dramatic, those writers who complain about people who say, “You know what you should write...” or, “I have this story idea...” I guess I was just jealous because it had never happened to me.
Then, one fateful November day, I was typing away on my work computer – probably an email – and one of my co-workers says, “Working on your novel?”

“Oh, yeah, I think Oprah might actually put her sticker on this one.”

I thought my sarcasm had been clear until he asked, “How long have you been writing?”

“My whole life.”

And you know, usually that’s when someone will ask what I write about, but not this guy: “I have a story. What do they call it when it’s someone’s life story?”

“An autobiography.”

“No. Well, it’s like a biography, but more personal.” He told me the title he’d chosen, and then hit me with this: “You could retire off of this book deal.”
“Well, that’s not really--”

“I have all of the memories.” How it works. “I just need someone to put them together for me. I can start feeding them to you, and you can type them up.”

“Well, that’s not really--”

“Seriously, you could retire off of this book deal.” How I work. “We can split the royalties.”

As he related a memory from his truly tragic childhood to me, I wondered how to politely tell him that I don’t want to write his book.

I thought about telling him that I didn’t have time. After all, I’m editing my second book, A Year with the Baptists, writing the first draft of my third book, Rachael’s Unfolding, and plotting an unnamed fantasy series. And it’s not like when I’m done with all of that I’ll be at a loss for ideas.

I thought about telling him that the market is saturated, to say nothing at all about the memoir genre. Telling stories is not enough; you have to be able to get people to listen. In order to get people to listen to you, you have to be listening to them.

I thought about telling him that I get paid ahead of time for any freelance work I do, in case, you know, the co-writer can’t hack it. I think anyone whose opinion is that a writing career just happens won’t hack it, and would therefore be a poor investment of my time, energy, and significant talent.

I also thought about telling him that maybe I didn’t want to retire off of his book deal; I want to retire off my own.
I ended up going with, “You really want a writer who can do your memories justice, and memoir is really not my thing.”

Even though the encounter was every bit as frustrating as my writing friends had led me to believe, I was inspired to continue tapping out my own lowly story ideas, building relationships with people, and otherwise investing my time in worthwhile pursuits.
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Lydia Thomas...just goofing around!
Lydia Thomas cannot dance or snap her fingers, but she can sing and write, so most days she feels pretty good about herself. She enjoys DIY projects and crafting, and spending time with family and friends, playing board games and watching movies. Her first book is The Field, and she’s working on her second and third, A Year with the Baptists and Rachael’s Unfolding.

Lydia Thomas can be found on:
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Thus the Humor & Inspiration posts begin! Many wonderful writers have influenced me since I started my journey as a writer/wannabe author. Now it's time to shine the light on those who shared, uplifted, and mentored me along the way. 


  1. How awkward...but nice job on the tactful response! I love reading and now have The Field on my Amazon wish list.

    1. Awesome! Lydia is such a cute lady...The Field is on my TBR list on the kindle. By the way, you're up next, sweetie!

  2. This is so funny! I had something like that - a 'friend' who had a great idea for a book that she wanted us to 'co-write'. After I'd turned her illiterate notes into a publishable book, and completely rewritten her unfeasible story arc, she presented it to a literary agent as her own work. Was that ever a learning process!

    Thank you again, Lydia, for your kind and thoughtful reviews of my books, too xx And I am just going to look at The Field :)

    1. I'd be about ready to say, "Good luck writing the sequel, sucker!" I can't imagine the young Terry who took on that gig in the first place. Live and learn, right? BTW it's been fun to pull up Blogger and find all these messages from you, Terry! :)