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Why do people write autobiographies? (1 Viewer)

greggb

Senior Member
I've often thought about writing and publishing an autobiography. It'd be a pretty easy task, considering the fact that I wouldn't have to do much research on my own life. And I wouldn't have to spend much time interviewing myself, either.

I suppose that if I were to write an autobiography I should interview some of the people who've known me, but I know they wouldn't give me honest answers to any of the questions I asked them. Not while I'm living, and even more, asking the questions.

For instance, if I asked the question, "So what do you think of me as a person and friend" they wouldn't say, "Well, you're kind of weird, and you really let me down by going to the bar instead of coming to my wedding reception" (no friend would say that to your face). Instead they'd say, "Well, you were always very nice and kind, and I still remember the uh... umm... wedding present you got me".

So what would be the point in interviewing people who've known me, if they're not going to give honest answers? There'd be no point in it.

Really, to write an autobiography, all I'd have to do is sit down and start describing my life, the way I see it. I'm telling you that I could do that without much trouble. But why would I want to do that?

That leads me to the question: Why do people write autobiographies? I've often wondered that.

The most logical answer to this question I can think of is: People write autobiographies because they want the information about their life on earth to be preserved after their death. Why else would they go to the trouble of writing so many boring details about their life?

Even more, people write autobiographies because they're afraid the information about their lives will be forgotten after their death. I won't even ask the question: Why does it matter to your dead corpse whether or not people talk about you while you're turning into worm food? But I will ask the question: Why are people afraid the information about their lives will be forgotten?

The most logical answer to this question (that I can think of) is: People are afraid information about their lives will be forgotten because they weren't important enough; because their actions were too insignificant to be worth mentioning again. So, people write autobiographies just in case the generations after them aren't naturally inclined to mention their name, and their actions again.

But if someone happens upon a paperback book at a yard sale 200 years from now, they can read about... what was his name? I can't remember his name but... what did he do? I can't remember that either, but I'll sell you this paperback autobiography for $5.00 (let's add a few bucks for inflation 200 years for now).

It seems to me that either you will be remembered, or you won't. No one will want to read your boring autobiography if you weren't important enough to be remembered. If you were important enough to be remembered, someone might read the first few pages of your autobiography before they realize that it's incredibly boring, at which point they'll read your biography, written by a much better author than yourself, who doesn't portray you as being the center of the universe, rather a fairly normal human being who had an interesting life.

My question, to anyone who'd like to respond, is why would you write an autobiography?
 

Spudley

Senior Member
I think the reason most people write autobiographies is because they're famous and they want to make a bit more money out of their fame.

Seriously, they're the only true autobiographies that tend to actually sell, as far as I can see.

A lot of people write "semi-autobiographical novels", which are centered around events that may actually have happened, but with the freedom of calling it fiction, so they can change any details to improve the story, or whatever other reason. I don't really see any difference between these and writing any other fiction, in terms of how you'd approach researching for it.

If you can remember in perfect detail all the interesting events that happened during your life, then you'll be able to get away without doing any research. But if not, I'd say it's probably a good idea to do some. :p
 
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