Should You Write a Memoir If You Aren’t a Celebrity?

I think yes, and here’s why

Perusing Barnes & Noble a few years back, I came across a book that grabbed my attention — Idiot: Life Stories From The Creator of Help Helen Smash by Laura Clery.

I had no idea who Laura Clery was, nor did I care. What I cared about was the bluntness of the book title. I was charmed by her cover choice (a close-up shot of the author with what appears to be beer cans used as hair rollers), and entranced by the fact that she didn’t have the same plastered-on smile as the authors beside her.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the package was the back cover — a full-body shot of Laura in a sexy red dress, with crude and hilarious comments from her mom, friends, and husband surrounding her — replacing the typical best-seller blurbs from high-brow critics.

The relatability of it all seemed too convenient. You could tell this book was written by someone who simply did not give a sh*t about what other people thought of her. Period. You were going to get a dose of reality — in all its beauty, rawness, and ugliness — with this story.

As I stared at Idiot, crammed between rows of ostentatious self-improvement material, I knew it was the book to buy that day for the sole reason that it wasn’t trying to be something it wasn’t.

I chose to think of that as an instructive metaphor for how we all should conduct our lives. Being yourself — your unfiltered, uncensored self — is the greatest gift you can give to the world, because it gives other people permission to act accordingly.

Most “how-to-get-published” podcasts I’ve listened have reiterated the notion that unless you are a celebrity, or someone with a large following, you should not write a memoir because “no one will care what you have to say.”

I think the opposite is true. Memoirs from “ordinary” people have the power to be more impactful than the narratives of celebrities and public figures because they’re not adhering to some publicity or marketing agenda to stay “on brand” with their fanbase. They have the freedom to be unapologetically themselves without fearing the consequences.

I think personal stories from the stay-at-home mom who overcame alcoholism or the twenty-something with mental health struggles are what the world needs more of.

Sometimes relatability is what the reader is really craving. More often than not, what we all want (and need) from a book and from each other is the validation of feeling seen. The relief that we aren’t alone.

It can take years to pull off a well-written, relevant, and valuable book. I’m all about supporting talented writers trying to break into the memoir category and make a name for themselves. But the only way we’ll know those talented writers exist is if we choose their titles instead of (or in addition to!) the latest novels from Reese’s Book Club.

Ashley Alt is a Connecticut-based writer specializing in mental health, wellness, and fashion. She is currently working on a memoir about the motherhood identity crisis. She has a 5-year-old son with a baby girl on the way.

You can check out (and sign up for) her mindset health newsletter here.

--

--

--

Moms Don’t Have Time to Write is a new Medium publication inspired by the award-winning podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, hosted by Zibby Owens.

Recommended from Medium

The Answer to Your Writing Woes? Ending Self-Doubt

Sitting down to write can be a tough thing to do, especially if you’re not already in the habit of…

Medium Fiction Publications

medium fiction, medium fiction publication, medium publication fiction, medium active publications, medium fiction writing

Why Real Writers Fantasize About the Money

26 Thoughtful Dr. Suess Quotes To Help You Become A Better Writer In 2019

Claire Elaine — Interview

Peace sign

Your Art Matters More Than You Think It Does

Delia Iaboni Top Childrens Author

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ashley Alt

Ashley Alt

Life is better when we laugh. I write about the importance of mental health & believe our weirdness is what makes us great. https://ashleyalt.substack.com/

More from Medium

How to Motivate Yourself to Write When You Don’t Feel Like It

woman, sitting on bed with laptop, trying to find motivation to write

Parents, Your Kids See You.

My Fibromyalgia Symptoms

An arm is coming up out of the sea.

12 Physical Effects Anxiety Has On The Body.