Finding Starts in Personal Essay Writing: Part 3

Mining the Three Freewrites: Whether you have done these freewrites ( see Part 1 and Part 2)  in the course of one writing session or over several days, find out what the freewrites have to tell you about an essay you might write by combing through them and jotting down images and phrases that interest … Continue reading

Finding Starts in Personal Essay Writing: Part 1

[The following article appeared first in “The Heart and Craft and of Life Writing.”] It  might not be obvious that those of us who write personal essays can benefit greatly from not knowing what we have to write about.  That is surprising to people who think of the essay as researched knowledge with a professorial, … Continue reading

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

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

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

There are Limits

There is a place for essays of every length in the world of creative nonfiction. Susan Bono, publisher and editor of  Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative, offers us some thoughts on writing short personal essays as well as examples of her own.  Noticing what subjects appeal to you and how you place yourself … Continue reading

Getting Your Writing Past Contest Screening Judges

About seven years ago, Sheila agreed to judge a personal essay contest for a writing magazine. Her task was to choose and rank the ten top essays among the submissions. Told to expect about 1,000 essays, she was surprised when 3,500 showed up at our door with only three weeks to choose the winners. I … Continue reading