New writers are often surprised to learn that the main drama of memoir is not what happened in the past but what happens when we consider the past and allow ourselves to be changed by the consideration. “What happened to the writer is not what matters,” Vivian Gornick writes in The Situation and the Story. “What matters is the large sense that the writer is able to make of what happened.”
In other words, memoir is a discourse with memory. It is conversation between past and present—the self you were and the self you’ve become. This sense of exchange happens in fiction as well and is why Nathanial Hawthorne called writing an “intercourse with the world.” (more…)
I can’t even write the words “blind faith” without my skin crawling. Despite forty-six years of attending church and more than half that time intentionally engaged in spiritual practices, enough of me is rational, academic, and post-modern that I’m unwilling to “blindly” do anything. Isn’t blind faith the purview of global warming deniers who believe humans were given dominion over the earth and the earth’s preservation is in God’s hands? Isn’t blind faith the stuff which sends terrorists careening airplanes into high rises? (more…)
Maybe it’s the Italian in me, but there’s little I enjoy more than a lengthy, impassioned conversation, preferably over a meal. I like probing questions. I enjoy playing devil’s advocate. I delight in the feeling of spiraling around a subject, each time circling a bit closer to some unreachable core. I like ending a conversation with new ideas, and rising from the table slightly changed.
This same experience of exchange also comes when I write. (more…)