I know I said in the first Survival Tip not to take any of this personally... unless you already made it personal by writing about your life in some kind of vaguely fictionalized way.
Case in point: The Query Shark's latest chum. (My apologies. Apparently, he asked to have his query removed right after it went up - and after I wrote this post - so the 'case in point' will have to fly without your actually being able to look at query #237.)
This poor guy wrote a book about his life and added some fictional elements to snazz up the place. And what he got was a poor treatment of his life and a poorer treatment of his query. (Not that Ms. Reid wasn't justified. He asked for it; he got it. Toyota.)
If you feel like you MUST write about your life in some kind of fictionalized way, you're going to end up taking the rejections personally. Who wouldn't? See, this is why my college English professor told us all that we needed distance from any story before we could do the story justice. Distance, my friends, is the getting personal without letting all the rejections get personal.
I feel bad for the guy who offered himself up as bait for the Shark. He thought his life was pretty interesting. It probably was. Hell, my life has had its share of interesting bits. I've even thought about writing some of them down in what would have to be a fictionalized memoir (because I can't remember all the details of the events - not because I want to pull a Mr. Frey.) I haven't written it because I was too close. I may always be too close. Hell, I'm living this life, so it's kind of hard to divorce myself from it.
On the other hand, they do tell you to write what you know. And as Ms. Reid pointed out in her critique, the gentleman did do that - perhaps to extremes. I think the idea, though, is to weave bits of yourself into your work. It is not to have yourself and that work be intertwined.
There's nothing wrong with getting personal, folks. But like Aristotle said 'everything in moderation'. Take bits of yourself to weave the tapestry, but don't give all of yourself.
Because, let's face it, folks - no matter how interesting we think the entirety of our story is, it just won't sell as is.
What about you? Have you ever thought of writing a memoir? Do you use bits of yourself into your fiction? How much is too much?