Another writer I respect (who has not read Eat, Pray, Love) is of the opinion that making a book deal in advance can change your perspective.
Her guess: "What you focus on, what you write down, is not as organic, as intuitive, as just fully experiencing in the moment."
She imagines the writer would have to feel "pressure to make a 'good' or certain kind of book."
Which makes me think of Larry David's reaction when the Seinfeld series was picked up. He was, he has said, terrified. How was he going to come up with a whole season's worth of stories?
Gilbert must have felt the same sort of pressure as she traveled through Italy, India, and Indonesia. Could she really turn her experiences and her reflections into a book anyone would want to read?
Let's face it, though, deadlines and commitments are how an awful lot of writing gets done.
But I suppose the real issue here is that we're talking about a memoir.
"What then is the difference here between memoir and reportage?" Gretchen wonders.
I'd say that Gilbert was in effect reporting on herself. Kind of like writing a travel book with a unique theme and highly personal perspective.
She contrived to bare her soul and, in large part, succeeded.
She may have skipped over some things and shrouded others -- either to protect herself or please her readers -- but nobody tells the whole truth.