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The Establishment: Does Writing Memoir Make You Crazy?

EST_logoLast month, Grace, a memoirist from Fort Greene, was having brunch with some of her colleagues. One of them—an attractive LA transplant named Sofia who layers her clothing in that elusive way you can never carry off—mentioned that she and her boyfriend were thinking about trying to get pregnant. Everyone congratulated her and ordered a round of pink cocktails. Grace asked her how she felt about it.

“To be honest, my first thought was, who should I tell?” Sofia said. “Then I thought, writing about going off birth control would be a great essay topic. So many people can relate to the experience of trying to become pregnant. And then I thought—wait a minute! An even better idea would be to write one about the decision of whether or not we should tell people that we’re trying.”

“Or, if you get pregnant easily, you could write an article about fertility guilt,” said another woman, a Boerum Hill freelancer named Viv. “But if you guys have problems, well . . . then the possibilities of what to write are endless.”

A few minutes later, Jennifer, a winsome content provider, came along. She’d just finished her tantrum yoga class.

“The woman on the mat next to mine was about 40 pounds overweight and it was her first time,” Jennifer said. “I wondered, should I say something encouraging to her? Or would that be patronizing? Then the whole entire time I was thinking, how should I describe her in my essay about this experience? And should I write a second piece about how it’s so unfair when my thoughts get cluttered during the hours I specifically devote to mind/body wellness?”

Since memoir has exploded on the Internet like a Bieber-Bloom kerfuffle, writers have started confronting the very real possibility that memoir is slowly driving them insane.

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