Poetry and Essays by Carol Smallwood: Observer, Librarian, Philosopher

Librarian, poet and author Carol Smallwood came to my attention over the years when she emailed calls for essays to consider for anthologies she was editing. I was very pleased to learn about these anthologies and very pleased when she accepted my essays for inclusion in Poetry: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing by Successful … Continue reading

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Sheila Reads Her Poems for National Poetry Month

For National Poetry Month, tonight I am reading from my own poetry at the link below. For me poetry is an everyday experience and so there aren’t any huge production values or perfect lighting in this video. Just me sharing my poems and talking to you about what I hope poetry accomplishes for humanity. You can … Continue reading

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The Way I See It

“The Way I See It” is the “Prologue” from Writing Personal Essays: Sharing and Shaping Your Life Experience, Published in print and digitally by Sheila Bender’s Writing It Real, March, 2017 [Note: I wrote a slightly different version of this essay for the 1995 edition of my book. Everything I realized then remains important to … Continue reading

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Writing the Eulogy

As my mother?s 90th birthday approaches, my husband and I have sorted through photographs from nine decades of her life. He is making a photo essay book to be given to her this Sunday and shared with guests at the party we are making. As we sorted, I reached into a manila envelope and to … Continue reading

Why I Want to Write

[Editor’s note: Sometimes I teach a class for Women on Writing that I call “Writing is a Friend with Extraordinary Benefits.” The following essay by Katherine Clarke is reprinted with permission of the author, is an example of what happens in this class — one writer’s words offering extraordinary benefits for each of us who write.] Like many people … Continue reading

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A Passion for Writing Might Save Us in These Times

What are we writers to do in a nation where so many young and old seem to have gone mad, publically shouting and bullying, using crude names for those of the female sex and for people of non-Christian religions and for people of color — here in a country where over decades we?ve: Passed legislation … Continue reading

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Making Books from Lists Part II: Adam Diament’s Kosher Patents

Adam L. Diament, the author of Kosher Patents: 101 Ingenious Inventions to Help Jews be Jewish, is a practicing patent attorney in Beverly Hills, California. He earned a B.A. in Religious Studies with an Emphasis in Judaism from the University of California, Berkeley in 1997 and a law degree from the University of San Diego … Continue reading

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Writing the Dear Mom Letter with Deborah Berger

 Deborah Berger asked women to write letters about what they never told their mothers.  Ultimately, she edited a selection of the contributions, along with profiles of their authors, into Dear Mom, Women’s Letters of Love, Loss and Longing. In her introduction to the work, she writes, “We are always linked to our mothers: both to … Continue reading

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Excerpt from Richard-Gabriel Rummonds Fantasies & Hard Knocks, My Life as a Printer

This book is a big one?in every way. In its 813 beautifully designed pages and over 450 gorgeous photos and images, a story unfolds not only of fine handpress printing but the man who printed works by many great 20th Century writers as well as prepared food for them and others in his own kitchens … Continue reading

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Another Fall/Winter Winner: Afrose Ahmed’s “the world did end…we just didn’t notice”

Our fall/winter contest judge Stan Rubin was struck with the lyric qualities in Afrose Ahmed’s entry, “the world did end…we just didn’t notice.” He wrote in his comments: “A gorgeous piece of lyrical writing. The odd but wonderfully sustained angle of vision—post-apocalyptic, witty, and liminal all at once—establishes its own rhythm and deepens to revelation. … Continue reading

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Contest Winner — The Meditation Room

Stan Rubin, our guest contest judge, shares these remarks about his choice of Amanda Noble’s essay, “The Meditation Room”: A nuanced portrayal of the shifting stages of private grief––and its gradual acceptance. This process is depicted with precision, intelligence, and sophisticated self-awareness. The writing keeps a sharp focus. A lot of emotional terrain is deftly … Continue reading

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Fall/Winter Writing Contest: Emma Hunter’s “God’s Breath and Bolognese”

Contest judge Stan Rubin, a master teacher, poet and friend of writing, wrote that Emma Hunter’s essay: Gracefully lives up to its rather daunting title, with wit and philosophical sweep. Concisely renders a dual vision — adult and child, the mundane and the cosmic — with natural dialogue and internal reflection, in a realistic scene. The relationships are delicately and … Continue reading

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Finding Form

Tarn Wilson delivered this paper for a panel on “Hydra-Headed Memoirs & Well-Connected Essays” at the 2015 Nonfiction Now conference. I am delighted to have her permission to post her words for Writing It Real readers. Tarn’s lovely memoir is The Slow Farm. She uses her experience writing it to inform other writers about her … Continue reading

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Excerpt from Route 66, a Nonfiction/Fiction Book Project by Jack Heffron

In this excerpt from Jack Heffron’s book project?that combines fiction and nonfiction, you’ll notice the strength of Jack’s?scenes and dialog, exactly the craft skills?he?will be teaching this year at the June 9-12 Writing It Real conference. In the book, Jack told me, the protagonist, Jack Finney, is a retired advertising executive who recently has been … Continue reading

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Excerpt From The Third Law of Motion, a Novel by Meg Files

The opening of Meg Files’ fine novel The Third Law of Motion?introduces the?book’s first-person narrative as we enter protagonist Dulcie White’s life as a college-bound high school student. In alternating chapters throughout the book, the young woman’s sometimes boyfriend, a confused and needy?young man, also narrates, but in the third person. Meg does an expert … Continue reading

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Excerpt from Good Morning Sam by Phyllis M. Washburn

The following is an excerpt from Phyllis M. Washburn’s book Good Morning Sam. In this part of the story, Phyllis and her husband Ralph rescue Sam, a mute swan, from bleeding to death. In all, the couple shared twenty-four years with mute swans and the book documents their time in narrative and photos. To read my interview … Continue reading

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Third Place Winning Essay — Winter Contest 2014

This week we present the third place winner in our 2014 Writing It Real Essay Contest. Our guest judge Midge Raymond selected Lisa Hunter’s essay, “Twelve Random Cards: A Self-Portrait in Archetypes.” Midge wrote this about her selection: “This clever self portrait, while a memoir of self-examination and brief stories, also allows us as readers … Continue reading

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Second Place Winning Essay — Winter 2014 Contest

We are pleased to post the second place winning essay in this past winter’s Writing It Real essay contest. Our guidelines said the number 12 was to be somewhere in the essay in honor of Writing It Real’s 12th Anniversary. Our guest judge, Midge Raymond, co-founder of Oregon’s Ashland Creek Press, chose Maureen Mistry’s “The … Continue reading

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First Place Winning Essay — Winter 2014 Contest

We are pleased to post the winning essay in this past winter’s Writing It Real essay contest. Our guidelines said the number 12 was to be somewhere in the essay in honor of Writing It Real’s 12th Anniversary. Our guest judge Midge Raymond, co-founder of Oregon’s Ashland Creek Press, chose Gillian Herbert’s “Three of Twelve” … Continue reading

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Excerpt from Susan Bono’s Collection What Have We Here

The following essay by Susan Bono is the title essay from her new collection What Have We Here: Essays about Keeping House and Finding Home. We reprint it this week with her permission. To learn more about Susan’s writing and the place of the personal essay in her writing life, please see last week’s interview. What Have We … Continue reading

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