Just Write

Personal Essay – Pivotal Event Plus . . .

A personal essay isn’t your life story. It’s a pivotal event. The narrator has an epiphany, or is changed at the end of the story. “Personal essays represent what you think, what you feel . . . your effort to communicate those thoughts and feelings to others . . . What is the point of your essay? Don’t belabor the point too much; let the point grow out of the experience of the essay. It might be true, in fact, that you didn’t even have a point to make when you started writing your essay. Go ahead and write it and see if a point develops.” — The Personal Essay More on personal essay: How to Write a Personal Essay Writing Personal Essays Personal Essay is Memoir in Short Form Still don’t know how to start? Gather your writing implements: Paper, pen, pencil, writing device, choose a writing prompt and…

Sparks

Dad

By Susan Bono “That’s quite a sack of rocks you’re carrying, sweetie,” my father’s friend Bruce said more than once during phone calls last year. It was his way of acknowledging how heavily Dad’s poor health, hard-headedness and self-imposed isolation weighed on me. But I also took it as a tribute to Dad’s stubbornness and my strength, too. “Dumb as a rock” never made much sense to me, since stone strikes me as having its own unassailable intelligence. Its ability to endure illustrates its genius. I have never believed in the ability to factor equations or compose sonnets was proof of brain power, although I shared with Dad the idea that someone with rocks in his head was lacking in foresight and flexibility. Rocks may be smart, but they are slow. Time measured in stone is something else again. There were moments during my dad’s dying that were as slow…

Guest Bloggers

Joys and discoveries when re-reading books.

Do you feel guilty when you re-read a book (on purpose, not because you forgot you previously read it)? Juan Vidal wrote a thoughtful essay about the joys and discoveries one makes when re-reading. “Returning to a book you’ve read multiple times can feel like drinks with an old friend. There’s a welcome familiarity — but also sometimes a slight suspicion that time has changed you both, and thus the relationship. But books don’t change, people do. And that’s what makes the act of rereading so rich and transformative. The beauty of rereading lies in the idea that our engagement with the work is based on our current mental, emotional, and even spiritual register. It’s true, the older I get, the more I feel time has wings. But with reading, it’s all about the present. It’s about the now and what one contributes to the now, because reading is a…

Just Write

How To Write A Memoir — Part One

Your Life. You lived it. Surely you can write about it. Right? In How To Write A Memoir, Part 1, we’ll discuss methods and ideas about writing personal stories, with links to published memoirs. How To Write A Memoir, Part 2, we’ll cover organizing, revising and more. You can write in chronological order, or build your story around pivotal events. In the beginning, it doesn’t matter what structure you use. Write in a style that is comfortable for you. Try one way and if isn’t working for you, try something else. Memoirs written in chronological order (with back story woven in): To Have Not by Frances Lefkowitz  and Grief Denied by Pauline Laurent. Rachael Herron, A Life in Stitches, assembles her stories around her knitting experiences. For the first draft, it’s fine to jump around in time. Don’t worry too much about making sense in the early stage of writing….

Book Reviews

What Have We Here by Susan Bono

What Have We Here by Susan Bono Review by Pat Tyler: Last night I went to bed thinking I’d read a story or two from What Have We Here by Susan before I went to sleep. Next thing I knew it was about 1:00 a.m. In my world, that’s late! Today, you’ll find this impressive little anthology in my purse or in my car — knowing its plethora of delightful stories will engage and entertain me as I indulge in a cup of Starbucks or wait impatiently to be seen by my family doctor. These beautifully crafted essays will make you chuckle or bring a tear to your eye. More importantly they will remind you of home and family —either the one you had — or the one you always wished for. Pat Tyler is still alive and writing in Cotati.  Review by Carol Hoorn: What we have here is…