It would have made more sense over tea (wren) Wed 26 Nov 03 07:55
And bouncing off your question, (gail), a general one for the writers: how have your family members reacted to being written about? Do they ever have people recognize them based on your essays?
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 26 Nov 03 09:46
(wren), that must be in the air! Several of the writers have already touched on that. But it's a fascinating issue: I confess it keeps me from doing a lot of possible projects, and I bet I'm not alone.
Theresa Pinto-Sherer (theresa-ps) Wed 26 Nov 03 17:37
my family has read everything i wrote before it was published. they often have comments to make, but have never complained or asked to have anything changed. once, my mother felt compelled to defend herself. i think i stay away from writing about people whom i know would be truly hurt by anything i had to say. for better or for worse. (though i do work some of that stuff into short stories or other fiction, of course.)
Kristin Ohlson (kristin-ohlson) Mon 1 Dec 03 05:17
Ditto what Theresa said. I always have people about whom I'm writing read the thing before I send it out, if it's nonfiction-- after all, these are THEIR lives too and I don't feel any cavalier sense of ownership to the material just because I've lived part of it. I get little arguments from my mother from time to time about small issues, but this hasn't been a problem. If I want to explore really painful events or conflicts in my family or others-- for instance, the suicide of a friend's son-- then I work on it in fiction. About multi-tasking: I'm always doing it, even though I kind of hate the concept. I try to carve out times to focus intensely on one thing or another, though so it's more like sequential-tasking. And even if I don't finish something, I find that if I give it that intense focus for a while and actually give it life, I can return to it later with new vision. Your brain continues to work things over, even when you're not concentrating on them-- this I learned from a neuroscientist I had to interview once.
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 1 Dec 03 10:32
> Your brain continues to work things over, even when you're not > concentrating on them-- this I learned from a neuroscientist I had to > interview once. I'll say. A collage of different projects can make all of them better, unless you hit the wall and become overcommitted. For a lot of us the effect of staying in multiple conversations at The WELL over time draws on that same effect and gives us new ideas that cross over from one area to the next. This conversation has got me thinking about how to tell stories that involve people I care about: along with adoption, conception, health care, hope at the time of death, supportive siblings and other mysteries. I also like the book cover, and I wanted to note that it is a vibrant non-cartoon collage by Lynda Barry, one of my favorite observers of family life. That seems to only show up in microscopic type on the back cover, which seems like a pity to me, but I know book covers are often a last-minute publisher choice rather than an author/editor choice, so I get why the credits end up on the covers themselves. The cover has old wallpaper and matches and paper hearts and great, vibrant lettering. Thanks to the folks who read the stories and asked specific questions, and especially to the authors and editor Jennifer Sweeney for coming by to talk about LIFE AS WE KNOW IT. Everyone's invited to keep posting if you have more questions, suggestions or if you just want to hang out here. (Check out some other corners of The WELL, such as <life.> where members post their life stories, diaries and commentary; <parenting.> the place for exploring family matters; <writers.> for (mostly fiction) writers; <byline.> for freelancers: <media.> about uh, everything related to media, and any other conference that sounds fun to you.) Thanks again for a glimpse behind the personal essays.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 1 Dec 03 11:04
Echoing Gail's thanks. There are so many amazing stories in "Life As We Know It" -- I feel lucky to have had the chance to see what some of the authors in that collection had to say about their work. I also wanted to say a special thanks to (kristin-ohlson) for encouraging me to go to her reading at my local bookstore. It was a pleasure to meet you, Kris. Go to her readings, folks, she's great!
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