The experience on the page is not for you, the writer. This is a mistake people make about memoirs – that if you have had a bad enough ass-whipping, you should make a lot of money. Now, I think we should all make a lot of money, but that’s a topic for another evening.
But in therapy, say, you pay them. In memoir, hopefully, they pay you. That suggests that you are supposed to give them something: an experience – that distilled experience. You’re supposed to create a world where things that perhaps sound strange on Jerry Springer actually begin to sound feasible or possible.
If you’re looking for a shorter quote from Karr on the same general subject (say, something to write on a Post-It note and stick on the bottom edge of your day-job computer monitor, in hopes that its continual presence in your peripheral vision will make you a better writer/person) I suggest: “bring something to the fucking party.” I think it’s helping me! Or at least I am thinking more about parties these days.