An Open Letter
The problem with all this first person sort-of-fiction writing, or as I call it, Helvetica, is that the author often makes the mistake of thinking smart people want to read about his life, that they care about him, his comings and goings, when in fact, they do not. Dumb people are interested in other people's lives. Smart people think only of themselves and of the poor. They want to see themselves reflected in any work, especially someone else's autobiography. It follows that each author will have a corresponding audience, a cohort of people who see their concerns reflected.
For me, sort-of-fiction must offer new insight, humble wisdom and a sense of understated depth, a religion without religion. And of course, there is always room for humor. The idea is to be instructed while being amused. Good sentence structure, handsome words, comic timing—these things that flash brightly, but still they are shallow and easy to forge. Tone, however, will reveal the faker. One does not outsmart tone. And so if an author really is just a clever one who likes to talk about himself and sell it as something more, then tone will nip and string him up. But if he really does understand and means to share, then tone will buoy him in the long race. And I will buy his products, maybe more than one—maybe two of the same. As for me, I fear my tone and would hide from it. I know it often paints me small, and yet, I don't know how big is too big for a beginner.