‘Quotables’ Archives

Quotables: Andrea Jarrell on Her Memoir “I’m the One Who Got Away”

I ask what it was like for Jarrell to navigate the history of her parents before she was born — two people of a different generation, younger then than Jarrell and her own husband are now, and whose story Jarrell had to wind her way through before she was able to fully understand her own.

‘This is where starting out as a fiction writer really helped me,’ she says. ‘Because I began by exploring my parents’ story in fiction, I didn’t have to be so precious with them. In my fiction, they weren’t my parents; they were characters in a story. Both of them had told me so much about what they did and how they felt before I was born, so I had the reality but I also wasn’t trying to ‘remember’ what happened. I was allowing these people to exist separately from my experience of them. It was important to me that I wasn’t trying to own their story but to use it as a touch point to inform mine. Their relationship before I was born became a fable to me — a cautionary tale that informed my life and choices.’”

 

Read the full article HERE. (Miller, E. Ce, “Andrea Jarrell’s ‘I’m The One Who Got Away’ Is A Memoir Every Modern Love Fan Will Want To Read,” Bustle.com, Sept. 5, 2017.)

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

On Creating a Goal, and Other Tips for Travel Writers

 

Hiking in the Cotswolds (Photo ©2016 Allyson Latta)

Hiking in the Cotswolds (Photo ©2016 Allyson Latta)

 

In “10 Tips for Writing Travel Articles,” Dan Linstead, travel editor of Wanderlust travel magazine, offers some of the best advice I’ve seen. Many of my creative writing students want to write travel memoirs but have trouble finding the “story” in their trip, or identifying and pursuing a goal that the reader will want to see them achieve. Here’s Linstead on creating a goal:

“Some trips have a physical objective (reaching the top of Kilimanjaro, crossing Costa Rica, seeing a tiger) that gives your article direction and purpose. The reader (hopefully) sticks with you because they want to know if you’ll achieve your goal.

“But many trips don’t have an obvious goal; they are more about discovering a place, unpicking its history or meeting its people. In this case, create a personal goal to give your reader a sense of where you’re taking them. Sentences like ‘I wanted to discover…’ or ‘I was keen to understand…’ give readers an idea of what’s to come, instead of you simply plunging them into the unknown.”

 

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Quotables: “At some point in my life I decided that I was going to write like hell”: 15 writing tips from Nick Ripatrazone (The Millions)

 

I once took a novel writing course that my professor said would stretch us to our limits. It did. I hated the draft of my novel: all that seemed to happen is that my characters would go on walks through the woods to a pond, fish, talk, and repeat. One night when my roommate probably wished I would go to sleep, I wrote my professor a long e-mail, and he responded the next morning with the single best writing advice that I ever received: “worrying isn’t work.” It’s not. Writers love to worry. We — it’s okay to admit it — are rather melodramatic. Worrying has never finished a paragraph or fixed a slow opening. You can worry away your writing life, or you can catch yourself the next time you start to worry, go for a walk, and replace those worries with work.”

Read the full article here: “Don’t Worry. Don’t Wait. Write,” The Millions, November 21, 2016

And visit Nick Ripatrazone.

 

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Quotables: Dani Shapiro on the Serial Memoirist’s Plight

danishapiro

“But some readers of memoir are looking for secrets, for complete transparency on the part of the author, as if the point is confession, and the process of reading memoir, a voyeuristic one. This idea of transparency troubles me, and is, I think, at the root of the serial memoirist’s plight. My goal when I sit down to write out of my own circumstances is not to make myself transparent. In fact, I am building an edifice. Stone by stone, I am constructing a story. Brick by brick, I am learning what image, what memory belongs to what. I am arranging the pieces that come my way, as Virginia Woolf suggests in her diary. I am attempting to make a piece of music as clear, as emotionally resonant and orderly, as a sonata. I am striving to make order out of chaos, which is the sweetest pleasure I know. When I succeed, I have a thing, this story, to offer. It isn’t me. It isn’t even a facsimile. I have used my life — rather than my life using me — to make something more beautiful and refined than I could ever be.”

Read the complete essay here:  “When You Write a Memoir, Readers Think They Know You Better Than They Do” (The New York Times, June 27, 2016)

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Annette Kuhn on Family Secrets in Memoir

“… a family without secrets is rare indeed. People who live in families make every effort to keep certain things concealed from the rest of the world, and at times from each other as well. Things will be lied about, or simply never mentioned. Sometimes family secrets are so deeply buried that they elude the conscious awareness even of those most closely involved. From the involuntary amnesias of repression to the wilful forgetting of matters it might be less than convenient to recall, secrets inhabit the borderlands of memory. Secrets perhaps are a necessary condition of the stories we are prompted by memory to tell about our lives.”

– Annette Kuhn, Family Secrets: Acts of Memory and Imagination

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Author Rebecca Silver Slayter on Why “Nothing Is Lost”

 

©2014 Allyson Latta

©2014 Allyson Latta


 

I believe one of the great privileges of being a writer is that there is a use — the possibility of a productive end — for everything you encounter. Life is so full that every day we witness great beauty or insight or deeply felt sentiment . . . and then we move on. But I always feel there should be something more to be done with those experiences — some record made of all the daily details that provoke the mind and heart. And as a writer, there is. Nothing is lost, or needs to be.”

– Rebecca Silver Slayter, author of In the Land of Birdfishes

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015