From Kate’s Writing Crate…
I write first person essays for several outlets so when I discovered Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature edited by Meredith Maran, I had to read it. Another selling point, several of my favorite memoirists are in the book including Anne Lamott, Sue Monk Kidd, and Cheryl Strayed. After reading the book, I have many more memoirists’ work I want to read.
Each chapter begins with an introduction of the memoirist, vital stats, a list of published works, then his or her answer to: Why I write about myself? The rest of the chapter subheadings are different as each author discusses his or her writing process and beliefs. At the end of each chapter, there are Words of Wisdom for Memoirists.
Here are some of my favorite passages:
“Don’t be afraid of writing into the heart of what you’re most afraid of. The story of life lives in what you would rather not admit or say.”
--Kate Christensen (page 20)
“…I firmly believe that there are things we already know and spend a lot of time resisting. You can try, but the amount of energy you spend trying not to know what you already know will be exhausting.”
--A. M. Homes (page 102)
“The reason to write memoir is to put something important out into the collective consciousness, to distill one human life as you’ve come to understand it…”
--Anne Lamott (page 140)
“Know that the writing will lead you to places you can’t imagine you will go…writing comes from a place beneath intellectual consciousness. The only way to get to that place is by writing. Trust the magic of that process.”
--James McBride (page 164)
“My work doesn’t hinge on shock value. I tell only what needs to be told for the work to reach its full potential. I’m not interested in confession. I’m interested in revelation.
--Cheryl Strayed (page 212)
“If you’re not uncomfortable and scared while you’re writing, you’re not writing close enough to the bone.”
--Ayelet Waldman (page 230)
“You get the most powerful material when you write toward whatever hurts. Don’t avoid it. Don’t run from it. Don’t write toward what’s easy. We recognize our humanity in those most difficult moments that people share.
--Jesmyn Ward (page 242)
I want to read many of the books listed by the authors in Why We Write About Ourselves including Ayelet Waldman’s Love and Other Impossible Pursuits which sounded interesting and familiar. Searching through my unread books, I found it—a future book review.