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Unstacking Writer’s Blocks

I have a friend who lives in a fearful situation. We have had several amazing conversations about how much she does not want to admit that her situation has to change, and that she has to change it. She has taken steps forward and backward, knowing that neither place is where she wants to be. Now she finds herself sapped and exhausted, her creative well dry. Fight or flight, the human fear response, means, when threatened, you defend either by standing up in defiance or running away to stay safe.

I keep a list of writing topics handy for those times when I get stuck. Because I write on difficult themes, I get stuck frequently. Sometimes, my list isn’t enough to burst my thought dam. In that case, I like to mine completed pieces from my writing history for phrases and inspiration. When even that fails to get my creative juices flowing, I trick my writer brain with the following exercise: Time Capsule Find a completed story, poem, essay or journal entry on a topic you haven’t worked with in awhile

It took me ten years to work up the courage to write about my childhood. In that time, I explored every field except nonfiction, earning an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) with a thesis my husband describes as “stories in which girls don’t act quite the way they should”. Fiction was a safety net-a space where I could address my sexual, physical and emotional fears without honestly admitting to them. During workshops of my short stories, I often felt personally attacked as my writing was critiqued. While my peers were

If you are a reader of Sheila’s Writes a Memoir, I apologize. I’ve taken her memoir down so that I can begin writing the pieces of my own life. Sheila was a great help to me when I first considered writing about my own abuse. She was a separate person with a parallel experience of abuse and sexualization. I could write her story much more safely than my own. Fiction is a wonderful buffer for the exquisitely painful reality of one’s own truth. I am grateful to those of you

Some stories are harder to write than others. Fiction offers a buffer, a safe distance from reality, even when the story lines are harsh or graphic. Life is visceral. I prefer my pretty fictions. Some stories are harder to hear than others, even though we are human in our curiosity. In our inability to look away. I have a true story. It is my creation. Not my birth, but the components of my life that make me who I am. I have wanted to tell it for years. I wanted

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