Head Size 8

We present here the 3rd place essay from the Writing It Real Spring 07 Personal Essay contest. I have included some comments following Jan Henrikson’s winning essay. Head Size 8 by Jan Henrikson “Head, Size 8,” Tony said gravely as I stepped through the door of his apartment. He waved a tiny slip of paper … Continue reading

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An Excerpt from “Art is a Lie that Tells the Truth”

Art is a lie that tells the truth. — Picasso A fantasy: I want to write A Diary of Lies. Actually, it’s already in my head, written in invisible ink. But I could just as easily call it A Diary of Imagination. It pretends to be real in order to express the full flavor of … Continue reading

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Tanka by Michael Dylan Welch

Editor’s Note — to learn more about Tanka poetry, click here to read Michael Dylan Welch’s accompanying article. Missing Poems this is but a moonless night, and my pillow has no tear stains— it is in the grocery aisle amid the frozen vegetables that I long for you my pen poised above the notepaper— no … Continue reading

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Driving Robert Frost

Being tall is not all bad. Sure your hit your head a lot, and people are always asking you to get something breakable down from high places or rescue a cat. But my height has served me well a time or two. Once, during my senior year at the University of Arizona, one of my … Continue reading

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So Have I Been A Good Stepmother?

This week, we begin a series about the work of writer and Emory University law professor Martha Grace Duncan. In her essay and book writing, Martha combines her passions for law, teaching, and memoir. This memoir originally appeared in The Gettysburg Review, 19:3, Autumn, 2006. So Have I Been a Good Stepmother? By Martha Grace … Continue reading

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Partners

“Partners” by B. Lynn Goodwin was one of ten honorable mentions in this year’s inaugural Writing It Real Personal Essay Contest. The essay is followed by response comments Sheila sent to the essay’s author, as promised for all ten honorable mentions. Partners By B. Lynn Goodwin I was in my twenties when I told my … Continue reading

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The Same Hospital at the Same Time

This excerpt from Allison Gilbert’s Always Too Soon: Voices of Support for Those Who Have Lost Both Parents (Seal Press, 2006) is reprinted with the permission of the author. Please click here to read Sheila’s interview with her. In this excerpt, Gilbert writes from her interview with Dennis Franz. You ONLY GET one set of … Continue reading

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“Heat” – Riley Ellen Martin’s Third Place Winning Essay”

Following this prize-winning essay, Sheila discusses the author’s way of putting description, metaphor making, example, comparison and contrast and cause and effect to good use in developing a humorous essay that clearly defines the experience of menopause and the mental and emotional states it encompasses. Heat by Riley Ellen Martin The open window brings the … Continue reading

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A Dime in My Pocket: A Memoir

Following this prize-winning essay, Sheila discusses the author’s craft and technique for creating an essay that uses imagery and details to work toward a felt understanding. A Dime in My Pocket By Kelly Sievers I scooted a chair close to my father’s bed, pulled the side rail down, and released his hands from restraints. In … Continue reading

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“I Do, Undone” – Catha J. Loomis 1st Place Essay

Following this prize-winning essay, Sheila discusses the author’s craft and technique for creating a successful personal opinion essay. I Do, Undone by Catha J. Loomis Shocked by a message on the answering machine, I dashed upstairs and turned on the computer, hoping for some online confirmation. “Oh my God,” I yelled. “It’s true!” “It” was … Continue reading

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Getting Around Concord

From Miss Alcott’s E-mail: Yours for Reforms of All Kinds by Kit Bakke. Reprinted by permission of David R. Godine, Publisher Copyright 2006 by Kit Bakke It was a wild, windy day, very like me in its fitful changes of sunshine and shade. — Louisa May Alcott, 1865, age thirty-three December 14, 2005 Dear Miss … Continue reading

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Getting Feedback – Twenty-Two Years

Reprinted with permission of the author from Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive, University of New England, 2006 Chapter Two: Getting Feedback — Twenty-Two Years By Joni Cole One time I went with a friend of a friend to lunch, my treat, so I could pick his brain about feedback. This man was a … Continue reading

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Decoys

This week, we offer a third essay by Brenda Miller, in which she skillfully uses an chance meeting to draw a metaphor that allows her to more deeply reflect upon herself as a writer. Again, the weaving of the outer world with the inner world yields a rich essay and a transformative experience. The other … Continue reading

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On Thermostats

Last week, we posted Brenda Miller’s essay about how making metaphor both removes us from the moment we are in and sets us more deeply into meditation, helping us know ourselves and our inner worlds. In “On Thermostats,” she once again weaves the outer world of a writing retreat with her inner world as a … Continue reading

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The Case Against Metaphor: An Apologia

“Writing it all down,” is the phrase that ends Brenda Miller’s essay. That’s what we strive to do as writers. It is an ambitious striving, a striving that forces us to question our experiences and ourselves–can we possibly write it all down? Can we possibly get it down right? What would it feel like if … Continue reading

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The Limits of Skepticism

describes a time of not writing but enjoying the garden of a rented London apartment.  Her husband thinks she is avoiding her writing, but actually she is cultivating it. Sometimes writing is allowing the senses in without direction. In the garden, specific blossoms stir specific memories of her mother. Weimer sits and plants and remembers. … Continue reading

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It’s a Short Trip to Guilderland

Most of the time, I am one of the most annoyingly politically correct people I know. I am so PC that even the word “tolerance” strikes me as a tad intolerant. But there is one minority group I can’t stand, and I make no apologies for it: I cannot abide Guilders. Don’t bother checking your … Continue reading

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Alan Should Have Rented a Car

This essay is reprinted here from Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed by Mimi Schwartz by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 2002 by Mimi Schwartz. Available wherever books are sold or from the University of Nebraska Press, 800.526.2617 and on the web at nebraskapress.unl.edu. No further use may be made of these materials … Continue reading

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Fatherhats

After reading Jack’s instruction last week about narrating a day in your life to find material, you will be interested in looking into this story to find the quantity of details that come from such close observation, from the way one of the characters tugs at his beard and the other covers his ears and … Continue reading

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Since that First Night of Lit Halls

As you read this short story by magical realism enthusiast Tamara Sellman, pay attention to the ways in which the omniscient third person narrator reports the main character’s thoughts and ideas.  Techniques of magical realism allow readers to understand and accept the mother’s way of understanding what is happening. With this acceptance comes an ability … Continue reading

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