Today we're excited to share a guest post from Rob
Rufus,author of Die Young With Me!
Below you'll find more about Rob,
his book, plus a
Ever since Die Young With Me was announced, people have been asking me to explain how they can write their memoir and get it published. They say it off the cuff, as if it’s simple – I mean, if an idiot like me can write a book, anyone can? Right?
Well...kind of. In theory, all you need to write a good memoir is a story that hasn’t been told before, or the ability to tell a familiar story in a fresh and interesting way. But this requires a basic understanding of literary voice, and an ability to put your story in context with stories that have already been told (not to mention tenacity, bravery, self‐loathing, truthfulness, and at least a tiny bit of talent...).
So when I’m asked how to write a memoir, I reply with a question of my own. So far, it has always been met with the exact same answer.
Q: Do you read a lot of books?
A: No. Nah. Not really. Not a big reader. Get bored too easily.
Well – f***! If you want to write any sort of book, you should probably
preface the task by reading some books yourself! Go to the bookstore, see what’s out there, see what you relate to, and get a lay of the land. I mean, if you asked a musician how to be a musician, but then said you don’t even like to listen to music – well, you’d seem sort of like an obnoxious asshole, right?
You don’t want to be an asshole. I don’t want that for you, either. So, for all you nonreading memoirists out there, let me offer some reading suggestions.
Below are five of my favorite memoirs. Some are written in pseudonym, some are partly fictionalized. Some are stories of extraordinary events, and some aren’t. But they all have something in common – they’re the stories of young men
and women who are searching for their place in the world, and they are told with unflinching, often painful honestly.
1.) ON THE ROAD – by Jack Kerouac: Anyone thinking about writing a memoir should read this book. Why? Well, love him or hate him, Kerouac had the guts to do what most of us don’t – he went across the country and got into as much wild shit as he could until he had enough interesting experiences to write about. Then, he sat down at a typewriter, and did it. Hell, his book made him the voice of a generation! Imagine what yours could do, if you’d just write it.
2.) BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY – by Ron Kovic: The story of a young soldier wounded and paralyzed in Vietnam, Born on the Fourth of July highlights not only the horrors of war, but the endless nightmare of recovery that follows. The candor in this book is shocking, unsettling, and necessary. Kids should have to read it in school before they ever vote in a national election or volunteer for military service. A must read memoir.
3.) JUST KIDS – by Patti Smith: Patti Smith captures the romantic lives of young artists like no other. Just Kids is beautiful story of love, friendship, loss, and creation. But you don’t have to be a creative type to dig this book – it will strike a chord with anyone who ever ached for a voice when they were young...meaning pretty much everyone.
4.) MY DARK PLACES – by James Ellroy: Um, so you might want to ease into this book, ok? Because it’s so truthful, so brutal, so goddamn cool, that it may make you give up on writing altogether, just to avoid the humiliation of having a memoir in the same section of the bookstore as My Dark Places. I know that’s how I felt! James Ellroy, king of crime noir, writes about the brutal unsolved murder of his mother in the 1950s, and how it led to a childhood fixation with The Black Dahlia (a topic that he’d eventually get famous writing about). Then, he teams up with the cop who worked his mother’s case, and goes on a search for her killer himself! If you think your odds of being a famous writer are slim, read this!
5.) POST OFFICE – by Charles Bukowski: Young adults should wait till they’re a little closer to the adult side before they read this book, or at least until they’ve had a job they hate. Bukowski is offensive, gross, terrible, disgusting, and hilarious. He describes the absurdity and disappointment of adulthood better than anyone I can think of. Honest to a fault, this book shows that you don’t have to be a good person to write a good memoir.
I suggest that you go read these books, and then ask yourself if you have the guts to be as open about your own heartbreak, pain, and failures as these authors were. Are you willing to put yourself out there, warts and all? If so, get crackin’ on that memoir! If not, no worries, it’s cool. You’d make more money writing a new Game of Thrones series, anyway. Winter is coming, and stuff.
Meet Die Young With Me!
Meet Rob Rufus!
Rob Rufus is a musician and writer living in Nashville. His band, Blacklist Royals, has released two full-length albums and played in sixteen countries over the past five years. Rob has written articles for Modern Drummer, Amp Magazine, Digital Tour Bus, and many music sites. Rob also works closely with the cancer community, including the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Stupid Cancer Podcast (the largest advocacy/support organization worldwide for teens with cancer), and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Die Young With Me
By: Rob Rufus
Release Date: September 20, 2016
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