inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #26 of 81: Jennifer Sweeney (jensweeney) Mon 17 Nov 03 11:13
    
Yikes! I think it must be obvious that, like Chris, I haven't done
this before. I just managed to look at all of the postings -- didn't
realize that so many writers and readers had weighed in. Thought I
would answer the one question that seemed aimed at the editor, about
whether the pieces were edited for the book. They weren't, actually. I
can't think of any piece in the anthology that was edited for the
collection.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #27 of 81: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 17 Nov 03 11:32
    
Welcome, Jennifer!  Gret to see you here.

Just think of it as an informal gathering. Like a transcript of people 
sitting aroudn a table or a campfire to talk, taking turns, sometimes 
with a little diversion from the last remark, sometimes referring back 
to something said a while ago.

I think it's phenomenal how well these all work on paper and online.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #28 of 81: Kristin Ohlson (kristin-ohlson) Mon 17 Nov 03 12:59
    
Hi Jennifer!
I was really thrilled to be included in the anthology-- when I was
teaching creative nonfiction last winter, I was always printing essays
from Salon and showing them to the class. I may use this anthology in
my next class-- it has so many great examples of personal writing.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #29 of 81: Jennifer Sweeney (jensweeney) Mon 17 Nov 03 14:34
    
Kristin: It is wonderful to hear from you -- I have been following
your great success. And  I do hope you find a place for the book in
your next class.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #30 of 81: Theresa Pinto-Sherer (theresa-ps) Mon 17 Nov 03 17:12
    
i wanted to respond to viv about writing for the "small space." i
included everything i wanted to in the piece and was not edited to be
shorter, in fact, if i remember correctly, Jennifer wanted me to make
it longer and fill it out. that's what i love about the personal essay,
there really is no formality to it, grammatically or otherwise. and i
am a fervent believer that all writing is personal essay to some
extent. 

also, as far as the difference between online publication and print
publication, i have to admit that publicly (my friends and family), the
book legitimized their view of me as a "writer" and i felt some pride
in that. i love books, the feel and look of them, so having something
to put on my bookshelf put a smile on my face. but i personally like
the online format better, it is more immediate and in that sense seems
more personal to me. it can reach much more in less time than a book
ever will. plus, being someone who is very short on time, i like the
route to publication much better. no longer the old mailed manuscript
with a self-addressed stamped envelope. i find that i'm much less
likely to submit something if i can't just hit "send." 

finally (forgive my lack of brevity), i view "life as we know it" as a
way of putting together disparate threads and weaving a picture of
love as we know it, in all its forms. as a scientist, it reminds me of
someone who has poured over the vast amounts of research articles out
there and pulled together a unifying theorem for all to read.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #31 of 81: pooning tang; tanging the poon (viv) Mon 17 Nov 03 18:03
    

thanks, theresa, for addressing yourself to the length question. hmm.

I'm still waiting to get the book in hand, still my preferred way of
reading.

Jennifer, can you talk a little about putting the anthology together--you
must have pieces you can point to that you didn't get to include.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #32 of 81: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 17 Nov 03 18:43
    
Meanwhile as an aside, I'll post a roundup of some of the essays from the
book in a "hidden" post, just one click out of the dialogue.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #33 of 81: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 17 Nov 03 19:05
    <hidden>
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #34 of 81: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 17 Nov 03 19:12
    
I just re-read "A matter of life in death," and it's just amazing.  More
than I remembered.  

I agree that it's tender, as well as heart-pounding and difficult.  We're 
all the richer when a doctor can write like that!   

What are the privacy issues in writing about emergency room scenarios?
JB, do you ask the patients about using their names, for example, and do
you ever use them?

I'd read some of these stories as they were first published, and it's 
a pleasure to go back through them again.  
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #35 of 81: Jennifer Sweeney (jensweeney) Mon 17 Nov 03 20:24
    
To answer the question about putting the book together ...

The first move was to use only personal essays. It wasn't so much that
we needed a theme to narrow down the number of eligible essays, but I
felt that stories for the anthology needed to be timeless. Since we
were putting them on paper, that seemed important. But that made it
difficult, because there were so many great features on salient issues
-- abortion, drug testing, drug laws and their impact on women and
families -- that are unforgettable. Like a lot of stories in Salon, the
ones in Life that were connected to the news were unlike other stories
that were appearing elsewhere on the same issues. Very different, and
very good.

After that, it was painful. There are so many first-person pieces that
I am attached to, that I still remember.  And there was great graphic
stuff too. Mostly I just had to make choices based on my own instincts
about what people would like to read -- and re-read. 
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #36 of 81: JBO (julianjbo) Tue 18 Nov 03 08:24
    
This is kind of like being in the dentist's chair (at least, my
dentist, who's always got a good, steady stream of talk): by the time
I'm back to get a word in, there are a dozen things I wanted to say.

First, Jen/Jenny/Jennifer/Nifer?, thanks for including my piece in the
book and posting it in the first place. It's gotta be great to help
shape these stories. 

Second, names and privacy. I use real names when I have permission to
do so. I've fictionalized stories when I really wanted to riff on a
theme (and am now trying to place one such story). But when an event
like the Sierra Doe story happened, which is once in a lifetime, it
really calls out for as much truthful detail as is possible. So it was
very scary to track down Richard (husband/father) and let him in on the
fact that I was writing about the worst moment in his life. He was
very gracious and warm and, this was the most rewarding thing about the
whole project, grateful to know what had happened.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #37 of 81: JBO (julianjbo) Tue 18 Nov 03 08:36
    
Finally (oops, hit the send button before I was finished), the book is
just great. I can't really read anything online, and I like the length
and variety of stories. It's kind of like a book my 6th grader is
reading, Seedfolks, a story about turning an empty ghetto trash lot
into a garden told in snippets by over a dozen characters. 
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #38 of 81: Martha Soukup (soukup) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:07
    
That could be the Well's new slogan:

"Sort of like being in the dentist's chair."

Um, maybe not.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #39 of 81: only a lunatic would apply shoe-polish to a weasel. (tinymonster) Tue 18 Nov 03 10:25
    
<snort>
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #40 of 81: Berliner (captward) Tue 18 Nov 03 11:01
    
The drugs are better at the dentist's. 
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #41 of 81: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 18 Nov 03 12:35
    

I've watched ER on television for some of the past many seasons, and
I should know better, but tv seeps in.  Reading <julianjbo> had 
me thinking in that small critic's voice in my head, "this is just so 
much more...  more vivid, more dramatic than reality..." no, wait.  
I don't know the reality; I can only compare to tv!  What weird 
baselines mass culture gives us.  For anyone reading along on or off 
WELL, if you haven't got your hands on the book yet, JBO's tale is at   

      http://archive.salon.com/mwt/feature/2001/03/21/sierra_doe/

This is not a spoiler:  it's not about a deer. OK?  
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #42 of 81: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 18 Nov 03 18:39
    
And my question for (kristin-ohlson):
Kristin, I know you're going to be reading from your new book this coming
Friday evening at Copperfield's (Montgomery Village branch) here in Santa 
Rosa CA. Are there any other readings you've got booked in the next few
days you might want to mention now? 

(I'm looking forward to coming to hear you read, BTW)
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #43 of 81: Kristin Ohlson (kristin-ohlson) Wed 19 Nov 03 05:03
    
Thanks, Cynthia! In addition to the Nov 21 reading at Copperfields,
I'll be reading from Stalking the Divine at Book Passage in Corte
Madera on Sat, Nov 22-- 7 pm. I just started to wash the clothes that
will go in the suitcase...
If you can make it on Friday, please shove my mother aside and say
hello.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #44 of 81: pooning tang; tanging the poon (viv) Wed 19 Nov 03 08:34
    

Anyone reading in Philadelphia?
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #45 of 81: JBO (julianjbo) Wed 19 Nov 03 16:12
    
I'm setting up Jan/Feb readings in Rockville, Maryland (outside of
DC), NYC and Stamford. Mom's in Stamford, and she'll bring the STML*
crowd from the senior living place. I'd be willing to go up to Philly -
I have a pal there who owes me tickets to see the Sixers.



*Short term memory loss. 
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #46 of 81: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 19 Nov 03 16:59
    
Heh!

I'm sort of skipping around the book, which I like more and more.  Some 
of these stories were familiar to me, from having read them at Salon on 
initial publication.  So I made the mistake of skipping some as I raced
through the book.   

Rereading the emergency room story told me I had better reread Identity
Crisis too, since a second pass was so effective with A Matter of Life in
Death.  

I read this one the first time through, and I remembered that I was
impressed that I had not seen anyone explore the identity issues for 
a Korean American adoptee as well as the specifics of being an
Italian-American Korean from New York.    

I wanted more... which is probably a good thing.  I wonder, for the next
time Theresa's around, if she's considered interviewing others with
similar stories, and expanding the exploration of identity for grown up
kids somewhat like her, whether they live with "carry on baggage" or huge 
bread pillows. 
 
And that works as an open question for everyone. Do you have any desire 
to use your story as a seed for something further -- to expand on it in 
any way -- or is it a finished piece that you leave as you go on to other 
projects?
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #47 of 81: pooning tang; tanging the poon (viv) Wed 19 Nov 03 17:07
    
All those stops are Amtrakable. 

REad Whie You ARe Gone (Stephen J Lyons) and though its terrain is 
familiar to me I still was able to come away with a refreshing take.
Not every piece is doing that for me, of course, but discovering those 
pieces that do is very satisfying. I read a few others while commuting 
today and don't think reading them back-to-back is the best way to 
appreciate them. Perhaps I state the obvious.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #48 of 81: pooning tang; tanging the poon (viv) Wed 19 Nov 03 17:08
    

gail slipped
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #49 of 81: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 19 Nov 03 17:10
    
No matter.  Planning readings is very cool.
  
inkwell.vue.201 : Salon writers: "Life As We Know It"
permalink #50 of 81: Theresa Pinto-Sherer (theresa-ps) Wed 19 Nov 03 19:42
    
in response to gail, i'm sure i have thought about large-scale
projects on any of my essays. it's a hard thing editing what you will
and won't include in a piece and inevitably, after you're done, you
come up with a dozen more things you could've said, loose ends you
could've tied, etc. but paradoxically i also feel that i told a
complete story and after getting if off my chest, i don't want to
revisit it. for me, time constrictions are a factor too- working
full-time, raising a three-year-old and planning for a second. i
haven't really written anything since i went back to work. 

but i have a long to-do list of things i want to get back to and it's
one of them.
  

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