A bit about my mini-memoirs

Why the [*/52] stuff?

While I’ve written several short memoirs before, I have dedicated my 52 week writing challenge to writing more... a lot more.

A full list of my published 52 mini-memoirs can be found at:

It’s a bit more daunting than I had imagined it would be, writing one a week, especially since some of them go quite long.

This is what is noted as the [*/52]. They are not necessarily published in order, however. Some publications take longer than others, and some pieces I’ve had trouble getting to the point that I’m happy with it, so I did the writing for that week and numbered it, but went to the next one, planning to come back and tweak the earlier one a bit.

For example, I published [6/52] a little while ago, while I’m just now getting ready to publish [2/52] due to some issues delaying it.

These are Nonfiction

I need to elaborate a bit. Yes, these are nonfiction, else they wouldn’t be memoirs. They deviate a bit from the norm, though.

I do want to make it clear, though, that these are absolutely nonfiction*.

I write in nearly every style I know of (I’m not saying I’m great at them all) and I write my share of purely narrative nonfiction, but it does fight a natural inclination of mine.

I’m a storyteller. I grew up watching TV, watching movies, and reading epic fiction. All of those have copious amounts of dialogue in common. That was my first exposure to what writing should be like. I then started writing fiction, heavily dialogue-driven fiction. (think Kevin Smith — not comparing talent, just the amount the dialogue contributes to driving the story). I honed my dialogue writing until I felt it could grab people and pull them in. I struggled to make every conversation as realistic as possible, since the mind is really good at shouting out hey, no one would ever say that!

I’ve also have a VERY long and clear memory on these things (I recently gave a brief description, in another mini-memoir, of the underwear the first girl I had sex with was wearing… it’s crystal clear in my head, and that was a long time ago). I remember the conversations fairly clearly.

I also kept a journal at various times in my life (for example, my Emy stories and a yet-to-be-published story about Rachael come from journal entries).

So when I tell these stories, I sometimes opt for including dialogue, which can be unusual for nonfiction. Of course I can’t claim to remember every exact word, so I do approximate when it’s called for, but it’s not to add or take away from the nonfiction, but simply because I prefer having dialogue there. When I don’t have enough clear recall of a conversation, I’ll usually switch to pure narrative to convey it in less exact terms.

The point is, including dialogue isn’t fictionalizing anything, it’s just a writing style I often choose to employ, given my specific writing talents. Think of it as the difference between a straight documentary and a movie telling a true story from the characters point of view (except I was actually there for stories and I’m a lot more honest with the telling of my stories than movies enhanced to blow up the box office are).

This differs from creative non-fiction as I’m not adding conversation that may or may not have actually happened.

There is also an element of unreliable narrator in this. Where I thought I might have sounded cool or clever, I might have actually sounded like an ass or an idiot. Where I might recall sounding like an idiot, I might very well have come off genuine or just awkward. I might have even been cool once in a while.

So, when you read these memoirs, as opposed to my truly narrative nonfiction, the dialogue is about 80% exactly as it occurred and about 20% approximation.

* [from nonfiction near the beginning] I’ve sometimes thought of myself as a sort of ‘Bizarro world’ Tucker Max (on Medium as Tucker Max).

If you’re not familiar and can deal with some seriously cringe-worthy and hilarious disasters resulting from some truly awful life decisions by a true ‘dickhead’ (his words!) who tells it honestly, rather than ‘look how cool I am,’ you would probably enjoy cringing through some of his stories. Seriously, in one story, after some truly reprehensible happenings, he tells of the aftermath of trying to walk through a hotel lobby in boxer shorts with an uncontrollable case of diarrhea:

I try to be as diplomatic as possible, considering that I am about to crap my pants:
Janitor “No, no se habla Ingles.”
Janitor “AYA, AYA!”
She points across the lobby. About 60 yards from where I am standing, at the complete other end of the lobby, there is a set of doors that have a large “Restroom” sign over them. Right where the front desk lady said it would be, except on the opposite side of the lobby.
I have about half a second to make a crucial decision: I can either sprint and hope I make it there before I shit in my boxers, or I can stick my thumb up into my ass and shuffle the 60 yards to lavatory freedom. The decision is simple: I break into a full-on dead-ass sprint.

tuckermax.com The Austin Road Trip

The thing is, instead of having these ‘real life is stranger than fiction’ stories from being a terrible person (I don’t believe he’s a terrible person, well, maybe he used to be), I’m a genuinely nice guy who gets into bizarre, epically fucked-up, humiliating, occasionally awesome, and all around weird scenarios through pure stupid luck and, actually like Tucker, bad and/or unusual decisions.

Note: His stuff is damn funny (and yeah, it’s going to offend the shit out of most people, no pun intended). I’m claiming neither to be as good a writer nor nearly as funny as he is. Some of mine are pretty funny, sometimes just ‘WTF?’ (eg. I once punched a mountain lion), and some are just tragic.

So, yeah, these are true stories and can be corroborated in most cases. I hope they’re enjoyable… or I’m going to look like a complete asshole for writing all this shit out.

Heath Houston

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