Possible Side Effects: My first step in an Autobiography
Everyone Has a Story to Tell
One of my most favorite books is “Possible Side Effects” by Augusten Burroughs. It is a book that randomly accounts the life of a man. The story is written in first person, and I don’t think the character’s name is ever stated. This writing style results in the reader never actually knowing if the book recounts the life of the author or someone else or if it is made up. Either way, this book is HILARIOUS. It makes me laugh out loud (just as much as Stephanie Plum!). If you have not read it, I recommend it.
Another reason I love this book, is because it is exactly the kind of book I want to write. I would record all of the things I remember in my life and add in the psychological aspects, the growth aspects, the spiritual aspects. Is there a market for this? Is it self-help or fiction? Can I write a self-help book without a psychology degree? Will it be the autobiography I’ve always dreamed of writing? Will it need to be deemed a "Christian Autobiography" because I've had a spiritual conversion? Would it have to be in chronological order? Would anyone learn anything from the circumstances I have dealt with in my life? Which ones do I include and which ones do I keep out? Are some things too private?
With my book, I think the Possible Side Effects would be pissing off people who are included in my story. Would I be able to mask the truth (to protect my relationships) and still be able to convey my message (to help the reader grow)? Do I focus on childhood, teenage or adult years? Can I get three or four or five books out of my life? (I have four blogs, why not five books?)
I Have Written a LOT Over the Years
I have memories that start when I was less than two years old. I know the memories are from this time, because my sisters left me when I was less than two years old. I also know that the memories are mine and not implanted by someone else or a photograph, because I have never told anyone these memories.
The very first memory I have is of my two sisters and I, late at night. We should have been sleeping, but instead we were all on the top bunk. We were giggling. And then we heard a door slam and Mandy said, “Uh oh, Brian is home.” And we were all instantly scared. We cowered in the top bunk together until all was quiet and then I climbed down the ladder and went to my bed. For most of my life, I thought we were scared because Brian was mean, because he had come home drunk and we thought we would be beaten. I think I assessed the situation this way based on what I learned of him growing up. Now that I have a toddler, I realize that we were probably scared because we knew we were doing something we were not supposed to be doing – we should have been sleeping!
My next memory actually includes my biological father. The details are hazy, but I was in his apartment. I can see the layout. I met his girlfriend, Lynn. She was tall and skinny and had long dark hair. I liked her. The same memory includes Rick dropping me off at my mom’s house on Louisiana Ave in Crystal. He was holding me. He had on a hat - brown leather. He had a mustache. I was happy.
Okay, not funny like Augusten Burroughs, but (trainwreck) entertaining none the less. And definitely fun to psychoanalyze. “Possible Side Effects” probably sold millions of copies. My book might not sell millions. But if one person learns from it, it would be worth all of the effort.
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© 2009 Leslie Broussard
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