A Note to my Students: Dare to Write the Un-Seemly and the Not-to-be-Seen
(Written to the members of The Memoir Club, 2016)
I am struck by something in all of your work. It is when you dare to describe the very hardest thing that the writing seems to expand, to grow into something larger than it was, and to become, in fact, beautiful. It is through and as against the darkness that the capaciousness of the writer’s love, and the contrasting happiness shines. By taking literary care, by devoting oneself to writing richly and honestly about racism, sexual violence, abandonment, struggle, disappointment—summoning the courage to write the “unseemly” and not-to-be-seen—that your writing becomes compassionate and true, like a gift.
Please find time for your wonderful, nourishing work.
White Cat-Black Cat: What is the truth about my life? The Question of Truth in the Writing of Memoir and A Roomful of Babies: Which story of the many should my life tell? The Question of Story in the Writing of Memoir, Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy, Spring 2019.
Teaching the Writer of Creative Nonfiction: How to Treat a Heart, Teachers & Writers Magazine, June 18, 2018.
“The memoirist grows up: As a memoirist writes she transforms as wordsmith and woman,” shewrites, September 2017.
Memoir, Mother, Mirror, Myself Summer 2016. Published in Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy.
“Whose admiration do we really value?“ shewrites, November 2016.
“Diving into the Wreck: The Bravery of my Students,” The Writer’s Guide, November 1, 2013.
“How can I get my memoir published?” Women Writers, Women’s Books, October 25, 2013.
“Tips of the Trade: 5 Ways to be Book-Promotion Buddies,” shewrites, July 2013.
“Writing is a Humiliation Banquet,“ shewrites, May 2013.
“White Cat-Black Cat: The Question of Truth in Memoir-Writing,” The Writers’ Guide, August 23, 2011.
Lecture on memoir writing for the Vermont College of Fine Arts, June, 2010.
A lecture that considers the challenge of making a story out of the mess of one’s life.
Ten Thoughts on Writing About Family Members
When You Get Feedback That Lacerates