Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Memoir passe?

On Woman-Stirred, Patricia Harrelson writes about the ways she struggled to get her memoir, Between Two Women, published. I've received virtually the same responses from agents and editors about my project:

* You are a talented writer [but] memoir has become a difficult genre to place.

* We found your memoir to be quite well done . . . but feel it would be a very tough sell to commercial publishers.

I never received the following comment, although the fact that Harrelson did makes me wonder if this has been a subtext of some of my rejections:

* We’ve just done a rash of lesbian memoirs so have to work on other things.

A RASH of lesbian memoirs? Where is this rash, on someone's face? It's certainly not in the market.

She also writes that she read an article in Writers' Digest about gay and lesbian writing in which an editor said that "[LGBT] Writers have little aptitude to be truly dangerous or daring." Hello? What about Edmund White? Rafael Campo? Dorothy Allison? Mark Doty? Jeanette Winterson? Les Feinberg? Marilyn Hacker? I could go on listing hundreds of these "anomalies."

And you know these are just the people who've been published. What about all the amazing, surprising stories other queer people have to tell? Saying the coming-out story is singular and overdone is like saying no straight love story has been necessary since Romeo and Juliet.

I do understand that sometimes the coming-out story takes a cliche tack. This is due to bad writing, though--not to the ridiculous (and probably homophobic or heterosupremacist) notion that there are too many queer books flooding the market.

Read the rest of Harrelson's entry to see everything she has tried to get her book out there.
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