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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Letter to My Son

Writing It Real members and students know my love of the epistolary (letter) form in literature and the many examples of it I offer as writing models. During the holiday season, a time of letters from those near and far, I am especially inspired to write to my son, Seth. At the letter’s end, I … Continue reading

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Grandma’s Fridge

Years ago, Jennifer Wagley entered a vivid, funny account of her perceptions of her grandmother’s attitudes toward food — buying, keeping, and serving it. It turns out she did this in 12 paragraphs, and as you know, we are celebrating our 12 year Writing It Real anniversary asking for essays that use the number 12. Check our contest guidelines … Continue reading

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The Honor of Writing a Foreword to an Anthology

The following is the 2013 foreword I was honored to write for the anthology Times They Were A’Changing: Women Remember the 60s and 70s, edited by Linda Joy Myers, Amber Lea Starfire and Kate Farrell. Paying tribute to the vibrant decades during which I was a college student and next a mom to two young children was certainly a … Continue reading

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Last Words, Glenn Fleishman’s Essay on Loss

Glenn Fleishman’s expertly executed and moving personal essay about the his mother’s death and the last time he saw her will resonate with any of us who are striving to write the details of loss and our lives at the time of our loss. Notice the mix of medical information and terminology, with personal medical … Continue reading

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My Marital Status

After reading that I’d mentioned an interview he did with Marion Woodman in a Writing It Real article, James Kullander contacted me. After reading the whole article, he offered permission to share another essay originally published in the December 2007 issue of The Sun magazine. “My Marital Status” takes a moving look at love and commitment, at what … Continue reading

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Writing Your Way in the Back Door: The Painting as Entry

Christine Hemp offers us her thinking about how we may find our prose and poetry’s true subjects followed by a writing exercise for practice and two sample poems. [This article and exercise were originally published in Now Write! Nonfiction: Memoir, Journalism and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers, from Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, edited by Sherry … Continue reading

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Celebrating and Learning from Three Wonderful Poets

It’s National Poetry Month and I am celebrating poets I know whose work I have been following both in their books and by attending readings in my town and surrounding areas. Each of the next weeks, I will publish a poem by each of three of these poets along with their own words about their … Continue reading

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Michael Shurgot’s 2nd Place Winning Essay “The First Time I Should Have Died”

Our guest judge Molly Tinsley’s notes about choosing Michael Shurgot’s essay for our second-place winner are these: “Great propulsion. The building of tension, the sense of time running out, the hints of questions left unanswered — all are the strategies of an accomplished story-teller. The detachment of the retrospective voice hooked me in further, the … Continue reading

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First Place Winning Essay – “Why I Write” by Mary Kurtz

Our fall/winter writing contest judge, Molly Tinsley, chose “Why I Write,” a personal essay by Mary Kurtz, as our first-place winner. Molly said in her notes about this essay: “Emotional control of the narrative makes Mary’s experience all the more riveting and poignant. I was swept up by the vivid flow of habitual action interrupted … Continue reading

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On Meeting the Lost Boys of Sudan, Personal Writing at the Intersection of History

Writing It Real member Betty Shafer met five of the Lost Boys of the Sudan during a time that she was mourning personal losses and considering a major life change. Entwining their story of tragedy and survival during an historic upheaval with reflections on events in her own life, Betty arrives at clarity, strength, and … Continue reading

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New Year’s Thoughts and Advice From My Correspondence With My iPad Mini

December 31, 2013 Dear Mini, Today marks our six-month anniversary of being together!  Six months! And you, my love, remain ever fresh and surprising, ever so original! We haven’t parted for even a day since that July afternoon when I gave in to the gleam in your eye and brought you home. I want to … Continue reading

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Foreword to Times They Were A-Changing

It was an honor to be asked to write the foreword to the newly released anthology Times They Were A-Changing, edited by Linda Joy Myers, Amber Lea Starfire, and Kate Farrell, whose selection of forty-eight powerful stories and poems by women about life changing experiences in the ’60s and ’70s vividly re-creates those two decades … Continue reading

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Writing a Eulogy Starting with a Remembered Trait

When asked to write a eulogy for a family member you cared for, you may find that your memories and those of others who knew the person you are writing about might span a lifetime but with gaps. Thinking of a physical trait you strongly associate with the person who has died and opening the … Continue reading

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Using Anaphora — A Model for a Speech

When my daughter Emily Bender was writing a Valedictorian speech to be delivered at her UC Berkeley graduation, she was nervous about having something worth saying. With all of the demands of her life as a graduating senior, she had mulled the speech over but not found a way of tying things together. The she … Continue reading

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On Writing the Eulogy

As writers, we are frequently the ones asked to write eulogies for friends and family members. Even if we are not asked, we may feel moved to write eulogies to honor those we loved and then to share our writing with a literary audience. Reading author David Reich’s eulogy for his father and considering the … Continue reading

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A Keynote Address Using Personal Experience

As the writers among our circles of family, friends, colleagues and associates, we are often approached to write addresses and eulogies, toasts and speeches. On September 19, 2013, I presented the keynote address at Providence Hospice of Seattle’s annual Pediatric Luncheon. It is a fundraiser for the organization’s work with grieving and terminally ill children and … Continue reading

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The Work of an Opening — To Achieve an Engaging, Smooth and Useful Beginning

Julaina Kleist-Corwin’s story is our third place winner in the spring/summer 2013 Writing It Real writing contest. Guest judge Terry Persun wrote to us that he chose the story because he liked the pacing and grew “to know the characters, all the while not knowing which to trust or which he liked better.” He also … Continue reading

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2nd Place Winner in Our Spring/Summer 2013 Contest

Our guest judge Terry Persun chose Cyndi Lloyd’s story “Recess” as the second place winner in Writing It Real’s Spring/Summer 2013 Writing Contest. He commented: I like the way this writer was able to draw out several different personalities in such a small space. I felt as though I knew these men and the older … Continue reading

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First Place Winning Essay 2013 Writing It Real Spring/Summer Contest

This week we are proud to publish the first of three winning essays in our recent contest. In choosing Hildegard Hingle’s essay as the first place winner in Writing It Real’s 2013 spring and summer writing contest, guest judge Terry Persun sent these words: This so reminded me of Nicholas Sparks. At first, I’m unsure … Continue reading

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