A Read Through Judith Kitchen’s Work

After reading In Short and In Brief, two anthologies of short personal essays co-edited by author Judith Kitchen, I re-read her collected essays in Only the Dance and Distance and Direction, and then her novel The House on Eccles Road. As I went to my bookshelf, I plucked Distance and Direction down first and returned … Continue reading

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Two Essays by Judith Kitchen

Yellow by Judith Kitchen (Reprinted by permission of the author from Distance and Direction, Coffee House Press, 2001, this essay first appeared in the Great River Review.) Lately the rush hour traffic begins before you have to put your headlights on. The season’s turned. I’m thinking back to summer solstice, thirty-five years ago, in Denmark. … Continue reading

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Insights into Endings – Part 2

After reading essayist and editor Judith Kitchen’s observations about effective essay endings for last week’s article, I turned to In Brief, the second of two creative nonfiction anthologies Kitchen co-edited with Mary Paumier Jones and published with W.W. Norton. In the introduction to this 1999 volume, Kitchen and Jones write that in addition to an … Continue reading

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Insights into Endings

In “Endings,” an instructional essay for the literary journal Fourth Genre, Fall, 2001, Judith Kitchen asserts that in a piece of creative nonfiction, “the building of thought is what interests the reader.” “We look as much for how an author approaches a subject,” she writes, “as for the subject itself.” In reading and writing essays, … Continue reading

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In Short – An Inspiring Essay Anthology Edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones

“It is a matter of proportion,” Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones say about the criteria they used for selecting essays for an anthology entitled In Short and published by W. W. Norton in 1996.  Noticing that nonfiction writers they admired were frequently writing very short prose, they realized that what mattered in an essay … Continue reading

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An Inland Navy

In last week’s article I reviewed Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Failure: A Bartender, a Monk, and My Unlikely Path to Truth. Near the end of the book, when Goldberg’s elderly father, who’d been operated on for colon cancer, sits down to hamburgers with her at a restaurant, my back bristled.  In my opinion, the author … Continue reading

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A Story of Two Fathers and the Daughter Who Loves Food Too Much

Reading popular writing guru Natalie Goldberg’s newly published memoir, The Great Failure: A Bartender, a Monk, and My Unlikely Path to Truth, Harper San Francisco, 2004, I am drawn to the speaker’s many descriptions of the two influential male figures in her life, her bartender father and her now deceased Zen teacher. When she writes … Continue reading

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Excerpt from Writing and Publishing Personal Essays by Sheila Bender

This week I am sharing an excerpt from my new book Writing and Publishing Personal Essays, just out from Silver Threads in San Diego. The excerpt demonstrates the power of extended metaphor for writing the essay. **** Telling It How It Never Was to Find Out How It Is One of the exercises you can … Continue reading

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Birthday Memories Offer Kernels For More Writing

This week, in the last of four articles presenting writing generated from Writing It Real exercises, I have included the work of three subscribers who sent me results from the exercise I proposed in Remembering Your Birthdays, August 19, 2004.   After reading Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven, I felt certain that … Continue reading

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Instructional Exercise based on Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine

Just before most of us turn our clocks back, and we are well into fall, I’d like to share two subscribers’ results from the exercise I proposed in “Put Summer on the Page,” July 8, 2004. In that article, I excerpted words from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and discussed a writing strategy that facilitates collecting … Continue reading

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Villanelles by Writing It Real Subscribers

It seemed to me that if we copied Thomas’ technique of speaking in paired commands, we might write well.  Although I didn’t expect readers to necessarily write tight villanelles as a result of the exercise (I actually suggested repeating the lines throughout an essay), two Writing It Real subscribers sent me the villanelles they’d created … Continue reading

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Writing It Real Subscribers’ Braided Poem

In May, I posted an article called “Coaxing Imaginative Awareness,” in which I reviewed Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser.  After reading the review, some Writing It Real subscribers teamed up to work on creating braided verse inspired by the results of these two poets.  One of these teams, … Continue reading

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Jiggs

Excerpted by permission of the author from Helen’s Garden: What we learned about life and love in a small country school, by Helen Mitchell, Niche Press, 2003. One of many stories in Helen’s Garden, “Jiggs” reminds us that we are all learners and sharing the process of one’s learning fosters friendship. Jiggs by Helen Mitchell … Continue reading

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A Fortunate Meeting with Helen Mitchell and her book, Helen’s Garden

On a sunny day in mid-July, I visited a lavender farm in Sequim, WA with my friend Judy from Northern California.  She was beginning to grow lavender herself, and as a merchant at her local farmers’ market, she was eager to add lavender products to her offerings. At the small organic farm, we met Helen … Continue reading

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Sandi C. Shore’s Secrets to Standup Success

Most teachers who understand writing as a process say that the first step is to play with words.  They provide exercises for helping students jump and run and climb on the word playground.  But what if your teacher is a stand-up comic?  Well, then, she helps you define your personality, sharpen your comedic style, and … Continue reading

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Just My Two Cents Worth

Having been a student of Jack Grapes, I am privileged to be on his email list and receive messages about reading and activities that inspire thoughts about the nature of writing.  In a recent email from Jack about authenticity in writing, I read this opening question, “If you can’t do it in the journal, what … Continue reading

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The Lonely Voyage of Betty Mouat, Part II

In the latter half of Chapter III of Barbara Sjoholm’s The Pirate Queen:  In Search of Grace O’Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea, the author finds a woman who tells her the truth about women’s fishing history in Norway. “The Lonely Voyage of Betty Mouat” (c0ntinued) Excerpted by permission of the author from … Continue reading

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The Lonely Voyage of Betty Mouat

The Lonely Voyage of Betty Mouat We are pleased to present Chapter VIII of Barbara Sjoholm’s new book in two parts.  In this chapter, the author tracks down information on a woman who at age 59 was the sole survivor of a boating accident off the Shetland Islands in the winter of 1886.  Looking for … Continue reading

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A Conversation with writer Barbara Sjoholm

This past spring, The Seattle Times ran a review of Barbara Sjoholm”s new book The Pirate Queen:  In Search of Grace O”Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea.  The review opens: If Janet Forsyth lived in the here and now, instead of 17th-century Scotland, she would be on the front page across the country. … Continue reading

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Remembering Your Birthdays

In Mitch Albom’s tale, 83-year-old Eddie Maintenance, as children call him because of the stitching on his work shirt, dies in an amusement park accident at Ruby Pier, where he has spent decades making sure that all the rides are operating safely.  In the course of the book and our introduction to Albom’s version of … Continue reading

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