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kellytijer
01-28-2008, 07:15 PM
If I'm writing a memoir, and talking about myself in a story, does mentioning myself smoking make me less attractive to the reader in general? Should I intentionally leave smoking out? I'm leaning towards "no," because I want to stay honest.

IceCreamEmpress
01-28-2008, 08:45 PM
Is the smoking relevant to the story? Did you meet someone interesting while grabbing a cigarette outside a hospital? Did you smoke like a stack, and have little children asking, "Mommy, why does that lady smell so funny?" Did you get berated by a health-nut friend over your Habit of Doom?

If you have something to say about smoking that's interesting, then go for it. If all you have to report is that you smoked, then skip it. I mean, when I smoked, I would light up a cigarette once or twice a day (I was never a heavy smoker). I would also pee three or four times a day, drink water five or six times a day, sleep six or seven hours a night...

benbradley
01-28-2008, 08:57 PM
IceCreamExpress has some excellent points. Also, if you've quit smoking (I quit 15 years ago after smoking for 17 years), I think you should mention that, as I consider it an important personal accomplishment. Especially discuss the situation that prompted you to quit ("I was asking whether I should include the fact that I smoked in this memoir...").

johnrobison
01-29-2008, 05:52 AM
If the smoking is relevant to the story as a book-length of memoir, it belongs there.

If the story is really a profile for Match.com, then I'd lose the cigarettes.

Melisande
01-29-2008, 09:13 AM
Enough with the PC already.

If you smoked, and it was a part of your life; include it. If not, skip and move on.

Be honest!!!!

Mandy-Jane
01-29-2008, 09:27 AM
What's so bad about smoking anyway? (not that I do.) Some of my favourite people smoke and it doesn't make them any less attractive to me.

kellytijer
01-31-2008, 12:06 AM
Ok, well here's the deal. I am writing a memoir about being the only white relative in a family of Hispanic in-laws. When I see them, it is an unwritten rule that I spend 50% of my time with my mother-in-law and 50% of my time with my father-in-law. With my mother-in-law, I spend my time sitting at the kitchen table watching her cook, she likes it when I chit-chat with her. With my father-in-law, I smoke. That's the activity he likes me to do with him. The chapter in question involves me taking a break from my mother-in-law to go outside with him and smoke, then all sorts of hijinks ensue that don't involve smoking. Should I change the smoking to, say, dominoes?

This question was posed in my critique group, and I wanted to see what you guys thought. The critique group believes that my readers won't like me as an author because of the smoking.

Thanks for all the comments above!

IceCreamEmpress
01-31-2008, 12:16 AM
Ok, well here's the deal. I am writing a memoir about being the only white relative in a family of Hispanic in-laws. When I see them, it is an unwritten rule that I spend 50% of my time with my mother-in-law and 50% of my time with my father-in-law. With my mother-in-law, I spend my time sitting at the kitchen table watching her cook, she likes it when I chit-chat with her. With my father-in-law, I smoke. That's the activity he likes me to do with him. The chapter in question involves me taking a break from my mother-in-law to go outside with him and smoke, then all sorts of hijinks ensue that don't involve smoking. Should I change the smoking to, say, dominoes?

No, because that would be a lie.


This question was posed in my critique group, and I wanted to see what you guys thought. The critique group believes that my readers won't like me as an author because of the smoking.

Your critique group is crazy in the head. Seriously, I'm sure they're lovely people and all, but that's just nuts. Nobody just writes someone off because they smoke cigarettes with their father-in-law.

Especially if you're somewhat ambivalent about smoking (which it sounds like you might be), but when you're with your father-in-law you do it because you want to bond with him, and that overrides your personal concerns about smoking. That? Really interesting.

If you changed it to something else, it would be both untruthful and less interesting. Nobody's ambivalent about playing dominoes, for instance.

kellytijer
01-31-2008, 01:02 AM
Empress, thanks. I think that the problem might have been that I mentioned the smoking in the story in passing, not because it's my "assigned" activity with my father-in-law. This needs point needs to be made more clearly in my chapter, I think.

melaniehoo
01-31-2008, 01:08 AM
I say stick with the facts. I've left things OUT of my story that would be powerful but hurtful, and oddly they are also about my hispanic FIL. If you're already going down that road I think you should keep it as honest as you can.

Ritergal
01-31-2008, 06:57 AM
The whole idea of ritual smoking with your f-i-l sounds intriguing. Even as a non-smoker, I fully understand that there are rituals involved with this activity, and at times, even though the idea of smoking is repugnant, I feel a little envious of those rituals. I absolutely vote for remaining authentic and true.

brutus
01-31-2008, 06:17 PM
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Shadow_Ferret
01-31-2008, 08:28 PM
The critique group believes that my readers won't like me as an author because of the smoking.



Oh horse hockey! How stupid. What reader, unless they are vehemently anti-smoker, is going to dislike you for simply smoking?

Readers like writers for their WRITING, not for their personal habits. Sheesh.

Melisande
02-01-2008, 01:12 AM
This question was posed in my critique group, and I wanted to see what you guys thought. The critique group believes that my readers won't like me as an author because of the smoking.



That's just plain stupid. Don't listen to them. What the hell do they know?? Stick with the truth!

benbradley
02-01-2008, 05:16 AM
Ok, well here's the deal. I am writing a memoir about being the only white relative in a family of Hispanic in-laws. When I see them, it is an unwritten rule that I spend 50% of my time with my mother-in-law and 50% of my time with my father-in-law. With my mother-in-law, I spend my time sitting at the kitchen table watching her cook, she likes it when I chit-chat with her. With my father-in-law, I smoke. That's the activity he likes me to do with him. The chapter in question involves me taking a break from my mother-in-law to go outside with him and smoke, then all sorts of hijinks ensue that don't involve smoking. Should I change the smoking to, say, dominoes?

This question was posed in my critique group, and I wanted to see what you guys thought. The critique group believes that my readers won't like me as an author because of the smoking.

Thanks for all the comments above!
Do readers have to smell your smoke to read youir book? I'm an ex-smoker (and probably much worse than a never-smoked non-smoker) and I wouldn't have a problem reading about your smoking. Clearly in this case smoking is part of the socializing (or even the whole excuse to go outside and socialize) with your father-in-law. IMHO, you should tell the story as it was. And another thing, I know very little about Mexican culture, but where I've lived people don't usually go outside to play dominoes.

I recall smoking to be an "inportant" activity in some respects such as at work, where there would be a separate smoking room or smokers would stand outside to smoke. This allowed socializing and news-and-rumor-passing that I otherwise night not have had access to. Whether a person smokes or not is a strong determinant in who he or she "hangs out" with.

kellytijer
02-01-2008, 07:05 AM
Do readers have to smell your smoke to read youir book?

No, but wouldn't that be cool? I could do a frying grease smell for the page where I'm sitting with mother-in-law, and a smoke smell for when I'm with father-in-law, and, and......:D


But well put Ben, thanks for your input.

Daehota
02-13-2008, 07:36 AM
You are your own character, aren't you? If you smoke, you smoke. You don't have to deliberately bring it up, but, geez.
I would error on the side of honesty.

Daehota

Pat~
02-13-2008, 08:25 AM
With my mother-in-law, I spend my time sitting at the kitchen table watching her cook, she likes it when I chit-chat with her. With my father-in-law, I smoke. That's the activity he likes me to do with him.

I don't particularly care for smoking, but I say keep it in. The fact that you choose to do what each in-law likes tells a lot about you, the author. It makes you real, and I think, likable.

Shwebb
02-20-2008, 03:33 AM
The whole idea of ritual smoking with your f-i-l sounds intriguing. Even as a non-smoker, I fully understand that there are rituals involved with this activity, and at times, even though the idea of smoking is repugnant, I feel a little envious of those rituals. I absolutely vote for remaining authentic and true.I agree with Ritergal.

When I worked as a nursing assistant while in high school, they'd just started banning smoking at the nursing station. The nurses and the aides would all give themselves a few extra breaks so they could go off the unit and smoke, and I'd be left behind to hold down the fort. (I was on the midnight shift.)

I grew up around smokers--I'd determined that I'd never pick up the habit. But I did try a cigarette once, just to see what I'd be missing for the rest of my life. Doggone it, but I still don't know what it might be. (Except for extra work breaks, perhaps!)

AllyWoof
03-06-2008, 12:43 AM
Oh horse hockey! How stupid. What reader, unless they are vehemently anti-smoker, is going to dislike you for simply smoking?

Readers like writers for their WRITING, not for their personal habits. Sheesh. That's like saying "She bites her nails? Ew gross. I won't be your friend." Definately don't leave it out.