Write Part of My Memoir in November, Day 14: Writer as Serial Monogomist

Write Part of My MemoirWelcome to Day 14 of my memoir writing challenge, wherein I find a rationale for my topic shifts.

I decided to take a semi-break from my memoir today to attend a local food writing forum because I am, among other things, a food writer. In fact, food writing has been the only constant since I became a freelancer. It was naturally part of my travel writing repertoire — you can’t write guidebooks without writing about restaurants in the places to which you’re guiding people  — but I also got regular contributing dining editor gigs, which continued through my days as a dog book writer and genealogy blogger.

I bring all this up because, at today’s forum, chef Deborah Madison described herself as getting typecast as a vegetarian cookbook writer (or was that a writer of vegetarian cookbooks?). “People want you to be one thing,” she said. “It’s hard to change, especially when you’re older.”  As someone who was known for years as “the Blackburn lady,” because I edited The Collected Poems of Paul Blackburn for my Ph.D. dissertation, I feel her pain.

Speaker Jeff Biggers, author, historian, playwright, had a different experience. He described himself as a “serial monogamist” of a writer: “You pick your subject,” he said, “and you go deep until you become an expert.” And then you move on.

Megan Kimble, author and editor of Edible Baja Arizona, to which I sometimes contribute food stories, said she writes to learn.

I’d been feeling like a dilettante with all my subject switches, so I liked Biggers’ and Kimble’s takes. They work as a rationale for my moves from topic to topic, for being a research geek. Now that I’m writing a memoir, that topic is myself. It’s a tougher nut to crack than you might imagine. I’m probably the world’s expert on myself, but going deep remains the challenge. I’m learning, though. I’m learning.

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About the Author

Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

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