This week at our National Association of Memoir Writers member teleseminar, Beth Kephart and I will continue a conversation in public that we have been having in bits and pieces through emails, phone conversations, and a five minute in-person meeting last week at Book Passage. It’s interesting how the Internet creates the opportunity to “meet” new people that we might not know—thanks to networking, Twitter, and our love of things we hold in common. Beth and I hold in common the allure, and challenge, of writing–and teaching–memoir.
Beth’s lovely new book Handling the Truth–On the Writing of Memoir is a poetic yet incisive look into writing memoir–and viewing “truth” through a different lens that it’s often viewed. Beth speaks to the detail, the verisimilitude, the felt moment of our lived experience–and helps us look at that, at the truth of experience, reflection, memory–as far as it can be determined to be true–however you define “truth.” Her book is a series of explorations of self, of the liminal spaces of consciousness, and for that reason I love it. It’s a book that asks us to make room for ideas and reflections we might otherwise miss.
I asked her to write a blog post and she wrote what I consider nearly a prose poem on our budding relationship and our upcoming discussion on Friday. I introduce you to Beth–and ask you to join us on Friday!
On Friday of this week I’ll be having a conversation with someone who is very special in the memoir world—someone all of you know well. Linda Joy Myers didn’t just open her heart to me when she heard I’d written a book about the making of memoir, she opened this NAMW world—inviting me into a dialogue, talking with me about stories and how they get made, arranging for our teleconference, and turning anticipatory tweets in the art of haiku. In just a few short days, we will take that conversational leap of faith and talk to each other about the many things that preoccupy us both in the making of memoir. How we capture what we love. How we protect those whom we cherish. Why we cannot write if we do not read, and read widely. What happens when the truth is bruised, when trust is shattered.
Linda has been teaching memoir for a very long time to a wide range of people. I have been teaching to small classrooms of undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania. We have so much we’re eager to share, and we hope you will join us.
Not long ago, I was standing near Fulton Street in New York City, watching the sun go down on the Brooklyn Bridge. Not far from me were these trapeze artists—or beginning trapeze artists—daring themselves to take a leap, trusting another to catch them. That, I thought, is how writing feels. No matter how many books in, no matter how much we think we know.
We’ll talk about that, too, come Friday.