Other than the first-hand accounts from Holocaust survivors I was obsessed with as a teen, I do not gravitate towards reading biographies. Seems odd considering my writing is primarily autobiographical. But therein lies the explanation. I feel an odd sort of intimidation when I read biographies, comparing my writing with theirs and thinking, how do they do it?
In particular I am always struck by the conversations that are included, some that go back decades. How can anyone remember a conversation they had with someone 40 years ago? I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night.
It seems false somehow. I imagine someone reading my biography one day, reading over a conversation that they were a part of and thinking, "WTF? That's not what I said at all." I mean, I don't get it. How do people recall what was said so many years ago with any amount of accuracy?
The other thing I find hard about biographies is the chronological order thing. My life didn't happen in chronological order. I'm not even sure how I'd put a biography together. Where would I start? What would I include? My life is one big montage--random clips set to the soundtrack of my inner musings. I guess that's why I like the blog format.
And lastly, biographies seem to have happy endings, an endpoint where everything seems to get wrapped up in a box with a pretty bow. I've always thought I couldn't write my own story until I have a happy ending. But there is no ending. It's life. It unfolds.
So, really, I'm just envious. Maybe I just haven't been reading the right kind of bios. I'm open to suggestions. Having said that, I like reading philosophy. That's my kind of biography. Currently, I'm reading Thoreau's Walden. He begins with this disclaimer of sorts which I would quote if I were ever to write a biography of my very own:
"In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience."