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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Judith Kitchen on Reading as a Writer Reads Part 2

Applying her method of reading as a writer reads to Pam Houston’s Contents May Have Shifted, Judith Kitchen asks, “So is this memoir, masked as novel? Or novel, masked as memoir? That’s one of the first questions that a reader of this book asks. “What does it matter?” you might venture.   Here is our guest author’s explanation. Reading … Continue reading

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Judith Kitchen on Reading as a Writer Reads Part 1

For our community read this past March 2013, the librarians in Port Townsend, where I live, chose Pam Houston’s novel Contents May Have Shifted, a story, they felt to be about love and freedom in middle age, something dear to the hearts of many in this community. At the top of the month the library … Continue reading

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“March 9th, Day Zero” — Excerpt from Stumbling Through the Dark

Thelma Zirkelbach describes her memoir as “a story of love and loss and unexpected courage.” In the following excerpt from Chapter 11 of Stumbling Through the Dark, Mazo Publishers, 2013 (posted here with permission of the author), Thelma’s husband Ralph is undergoing a red cell transplant. How does one commemorate what is supposed to be … Continue reading

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Parking Garage – A Personal Essay on Widowhood

Along with editors Barbara B. Rollins, Becky Haigler, and Robyn Conley, Thelma Zirkelbach edited the anthology On Our Own: Widowhood for Smarties. We posted an interview with Thelma last week about the process of finding contributors and publishing the anthology. This week, we are pleased to post an essay by Thelma from the 2012 book. … Continue reading

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Our Third Place Winning Essay – Salvation by Pam Robinson

Pam Robinson is our third place winner in the Writing It Real winter, 2012 writing contest. Our guest judge, Shanti Bannwart, sent these words along about Pamela’s essay: The piece begins with a quote that provides almost a summary of the story that follows. And the almost is the trigger here, whetting the appetite of … Continue reading

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Our Second Place Contest Winner: Navy Blue by Kate Foley Cusumano

We are proud to post the second place winner in our Winter, 2012 Writing It Real contest. Kate Foley Cusumano is a former Navy officer and elementary school teacher. A Midwesterner at heart, she’s been influenced by years in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan and Italy, among other locales. Kate is currently an adjunct professor for the … Continue reading

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I Grew Up in That Place – First Place Winning Essay, Winter 2012 Contest

The contest results are in and we are proud to publish the first-place winning essay in our winter, 2012 contest. Guest judge Shanti Bannwart sent these words about Kate Allen’s “I Grew Up in That Place”:  The essay is a touching example of the mythological Hero’s Journey – or better the Heroine’s Journey: the challenge of encountering … Continue reading

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Excerpt from Meg Files Novel The Third Law of Motion

This excerpt is from Chapter 15 of The Third Law of Motion by Meg Files, published by Anaphora Literary Press, 2011, reprinted here by permission of the author. Lonnie had already started work as an inventory clerk in a new discount store just outside town, and we’d used the Christmas money from Dad for rent and … Continue reading

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Talking Recklessly

 “Talking Recklessly” is excerpted by permission of the author, Kim Stafford, from his memoir 100 Tricks Any Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared published 2012 by Trinity University Press, San Antonio, TX. When we were young, our father had a habit of abruptly increasing the voltage by announcing, “Let’s talk recklessly!” This meant any … Continue reading

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Our Dreams Choose Us

After I began studying with poets at the University of Washington in the early 80’s, I had a closet in my bedroom under my house’s eaves converted into a writing nook with a skylight. Sitting there at night, I could see the stars and sometimes the moon. During the day, sunshine and Seattle’s famous clouds, … Continue reading

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A Holiday Letter

After a request from a Writing It Real member to write more on the topic of composing holiday letters, I decided first to write my holiday letter and see what lessons came. I started with the scene of a recent night’s wakefulness and let that scene lead me to associations concerning some of the events … Continue reading

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In Praise of Inadequate Gifts

Former Writing It Real intern, Tarn Wilson, shares an exquisite, humble essay about the times we confront loss in the lives of those we don’t know well and the times others address our own losses. This essay first appeared in Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Vol. 40, Nos. 3 and 4 (Summer/Autumn 2012): 13-16. Copyright 2012 The President … Continue reading

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Expect It In The Casino by Diane C. Drury, Our Third Place Winner

The recent Writing It Real contest provided the opportunity for people to write about the world around them, send in a draft, receive my responses for help in revising, and then re-enter a revision for our final judge, Betsy Howell. In selecting Diane Drury’s poem “Expect It in the Casino,” Betsy wrote: Not all memoir … Continue reading

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