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Are You Interesting?

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It’s an oft-repeated legend. And who knows if it’s even true? But it’s a good one.

As Rick Bass recounts in his introduction to 1993 University Press of Mississippi combined volume Boomerang and Never Die, a student asked Barry Hannah how to make her stories more interesting. Bass writes, “Barry, I am told, looked long and hard at the student, decided she was earnest about becoming a better writer, and told her the truth, told her Jack’s and Homer’s truth: ‘Try making yourself a more interesting person.'”

It’s tough advice. But, when you sit down to put your personal experiences on the page, how can you be confident that you are, in fact, interesting enough?

I’m working on something now that requires me to write about my real life more than anything I’ve ever written. At the end of each page, I feel like putz for writing about myself. Who is going to find my life interesting?

A friend of mine who has written several bestsellers, including a memoir, says that he simply reads his work out loud. If the listeners think the story is interesting, then it is. If they get bored, then he needs to get back to work or chose a different life experience to write about.

I guess that’s one way. How do you memoirists and non-fiction writers out there deal with it? How do you get over the feeling that you’re a doofus for assuming anyone wants to read about your experiences?

Or is it just me?