Our Baby, Not Yours

Barbara Graham’s essay about the birth of her granddaughter, Isabelle Eva, and the changes it made in her and her family are not only the subject of this wonderful essay but also the inspiration for a whole anthology of writings by women writers on grandmothering, Eye of My Heart published this year by HarperCollins. Last … Continue reading

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Conversation on Creating and Supporting an Anthology of Essays by Many Contributors

Earlier this year, Writing It Real contributor Steven Winn wrote me that Barbara Graham, a former San Francisco Chronicle colleague of his, was publishing a collection of essays by women writers on grandmothering. He wondered if I would be interested in contacting her. Writing from the life experiences of becoming a grandparent, moving into a … Continue reading

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Exactly How to Write the Narrative Essay

[This essay was adapted by the author from her book Naked, Drunk and Writing: Writing Essays and Memoirs for Love and for Money] For all its charm and sometimes apparent aimlessness, an essay has a skeleton, an underlying structure that makes it work. Often it’s the age-old structure of a story. By “story” I don’t … Continue reading

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Making Poetry From the Prose of Our Daily Lives

I have recently completed one more semester of mentoring graduate student Kathy Lockwood in her Creative Writing program at Alaska Pacific University. Here is a third article from our series of exchanges about writing poetry. Just before Kathy sent this letter, she called me. She was frantic about getting back to writing poetry on time … Continue reading

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Writing in Style

Last week we posted an interview with memoirist Sue William Silverman. This week’s article is an excerpt from her new book, Fearless Confessions: A Writers Guide to Memoir, and  is reprinted here with the permission of the author and University of Georgia Press. Writing In Style I love red shoes. Always have, always will. I … Continue reading

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On Sue William Silverman’s Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir

Memoirist Sue William Silverman’s guide for memoir writing is hot off the press this month. Fearless Confessions is immensely useful and absorbing. Its tone is warm, patient, helpful and reassuring, and it is itself an example of its lessons — it reads like a memoir about writing memoir and is quite playful as it goes … Continue reading

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Learning from Kim Addonizio’s Ordinary Genius

As I continue to mentor Kathy Lockwood, who attends Alaska Pacific College in Anchorage, I grow and learn by considering her poems and her readings of the published poems she studies. Just as I did in April of this year (Working With Mentors Both Near and Far), I am publishing another of our exchanges for … Continue reading

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Indexing: Who Does It and How?

I’ve been to your web page and read: ABOUT INDEXES Sheila Before I met you this winter, Katherine, I had never spoken to an indexer, not even the ones some of my publishers employed to make the indexes for my books. All I knew was that libraries are more likely to purchase nonfiction books with … Continue reading

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Chapter 4 of Off Kilter by Linda Wisniewski

This essay is excerpted from <em>Off-Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother and her Polish Heritage</em> with the author’s permission. It is my pleasure to offer you this sample of the book’s excellent essays — each one evokes the writer’s growing up clearly and vividly. Less than a mile into our school … Continue reading

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An Interview with Linda C. Wisniewski

This week we present an interview with author Linda C. Wisniewski. Her book Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother & Her Polish Heritage accomplishes what many of us wish to accomplish when we are writing personal essays. Reviewer Marc Schuster of Small Press Reviews explains it this way: Wisniewski conjures … Continue reading

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“Walking to School” by Nancy Kane

“Walking to School” is an essay that is very close to being completely satisfying. I want to share the essay and the comments I sent Nancy in our recent No-Contest Contest to provide the experience of workshopping an essay using the three-step response method I advocate. I believe that as we become skilled at offering … Continue reading

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Excerpt from Wounding’s Grace: Confessions of an Extraordinary Heart

I am pleased to present the second place winner in our spring 2009 Writing It Real No-Contest Contest. Mary Oak has woven her childhood longings and adult experience into a rich tapestry in the service of informing many through her life review. As she writes in her bio information, after surviving a cardiac arrest in … Continue reading

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The Hershey Bar Incident

Kathy Krause’s personal essay “The Hershey Bar Incident” entertains as well as reminds readers of something very important–how many times as adults we make promises to children and then don’t come through, thus eroding the admiration the children have for us and leaving more hurt behind than we willingly acknowledge. Kathy’s well-drawn descriptions of what … Continue reading

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What the Moment Can Hold

The first time I hold my daughter’s daughter I feel so sad. I don’t remember feeling this when her sons were born. It is a strange feeling, the wrong emotion for this happy time, but I can’t help it. I’m remembering when the baby in my arms was my daughter, when it was all still … Continue reading

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Getting Started Writing Memoir

Ever since I started writing in earnest and working with other writers, I’ve been curious about why one chooses fiction for one story and non-fiction for another. Most of what I write is drawn from personal experience so for me it’s pretty simple — some stories need to be served straight up. That’s non-fiction. Others … Continue reading

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On Writing Early Readers

Caroline Arnold has been a contributor to Writing It Real, and recently, she sent me an essay about how one of her early children’s books began as gardening observations with her children. We will be posting an excerpt from that book, Wiggle and Waggle, after our current exchange and refresher on the issues involved in … Continue reading

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An Introduction that Puts Argument to Work

In this slightly abbreviated excerpt from another of author Elaine Partnow’s introductions, we see an argument at work that informs as it asks us to consider the absence of women from lists of notable playwrights.  Partnow has put her book together, she says, to “allow women playwrights throughout history to resurface, as well as to … Continue reading

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Words of Introduction Outline a Book

Elaine Partnow wrote this introduction for The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Your True Age, which she co-authored with her sister Judith Hyman, Ph.D. You will see the work a book’s introduction can do for managing readers’ expectations of how a book is ordered and how they will participate in learning. Youth is as much a … Continue reading

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Elaine Partnow, Author, Actor, Playwright

I started out in life as an actress. Around my 32nd year, I was depressed. I had been getting great reviews on my theater performances in LA, but I was not getting hired for films. I had little parts in big movies and big parts in little movies, but not the work for which I … Continue reading

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Creating Voice in Poetry and Prose

Voice is one the most essential features of successful writing; if we fail to create an authentic, credible voice in our work, that work will fail — in spite of other virtues it may have. However, voice is often referred to as something elusive and indefinable. In their book, A Poet’s Companion, Kim Addonizio and … Continue reading

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