Monday, February 17, 2020

Your Story is Your Story

Your story is yours. Memoir writers often struggle with the idea of ownership over a story. We will say something like, "But.. it happened to someone close to me; my response doesn't matter." Or, "The other people involved don't agree with my memory."

I'm here to remind you that everything that you've done, that has happened to you or you experienced in some way or another is a part of you. It makes you. You are composed of your actions, your responses, the actions of those around you, things you've read and the events that happen in your home, neighborhood, country... the list goes on and on. For example, if you were affected by a friend's loss, then your response is indeed a part of you.

Give yourself permission to write your story. If you learned something or changed from an outside event, then you might have something interesting to explore in writing.

Of course, you don't necessarily have permission to use other people's names or identifying details or specific event details. Your response, however, is always yours. (This is where you might need a disclaimer before your creative non-fiction piece to describe where you've taken some creative liberties.)

For more on this, you might read Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family, edited and with an introduction by Joy Castro.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Valentine's Day Reading & Shopping


The Bay of Marseille, Seen from L’Estaque
c. 1885,Paul C├ęzanne, Art Institute of Chicago

This Valentine's Day, show your love by supporting writers and literary journals. Browse New Pages for the latest issues of your favorite literary magazines and subscribe for yourself or a loved one. New Pages also has a great guide to local independent bookstores. If you're in D.C., head to Politics & Prose bookstore for some great recommendations.


For more, here's a Valentine's Day writing prompt I posted a few years ago.

The love poem that I read this morning to my husband? Wife by Ada Limon. Meanwhile, I'll be referencing another art form when I surprise our child with Star Wars Blue Milk on Friday morning. Happily, the movies have led to reading many related books, so we'll add a treat to the fun.

Happy Valentine's Day in every genre and color!



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Before and After the Book Deal by Courtney Maum


If you are a writer of any genre and at any stage of the writing process, I recommend that you read Before and After the Book deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting and Surviving your First Book by Courtney Maum. I was so taken by her frankness, accessibility, research, encouragement and humor. This is your MFA in the writing and publishing life contained within a single book. The chapters are easy to digest and the resources listed at the end will save you time in the future. I will be assigning this book to writers for years.

I'll stop praising it only so you have time to read it.