Friday, June 8, 2012

Writing Advice from Aunt Dora: Take Every Opportunity


Aunt Dora giving a speech at her 100th birthday party 
(which she planned herself)


A student said she wrote a personal story in a particularly safe manner because, she said, “I thought that’s what the class would want.” I quickly shook my head and told her not to do that. She should write the way she wants to write for her intended audience. She smiled.

Today would have been Aunt Dora’s 104th birthday. In remembrance, I’d like to offer some Aunt Dora style writing advice for you in the form of a question:

Did you take every opportunity?

Aunt Dora regularly told me – and everyone – to take every opportunity.

Remember: You are free to write what you want and how you want. How can you create something new and breathtaking if you are trying to conform to everyone’s wishes? Imagine yourself to be free; write that way. And then stay that way in life.

On April 1st, the anniversary of Aunt Dora’s passing, I posted a found epistolary poem composed of things she used to say to me. It wouldn’t have fit into the poem, but I’ll leave you with this quote: When I called Aunt Dora after spending a few weeks in Greece on my honeymoon, she exclaimed, “Chloe? Is that you? I’ll be a swinging pig’s tail. Welcome back!”

And then she asked me all about the opportunities we took while we traveled. We had plenty to discuss. 

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