About Me

My photo
Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Drawing from the Past

I've heard it said to write what you know.  I both agree and disagree with this statement.  I agree in the sense that when we write what we know, we're in familiar territory which brings veracity to what we're writing.  But I disagree because writers have imaginations that can create whole worlds, beings, and events that don't actually exist.  But what I want to talk about a little bit here is writing what you know.

I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder, and it can be both easy and difficult.  It's easy when I'm writing on a more technical, clinical level; it's difficult when I'm delving into experiences I've had, many of them unpleasant to say the least.  Drawing from the past is an interesting endeavor.  There's material like crazy.  There's so much from which to draw.  But choosing what to draw from is complicated.  I don't want my memoir to be an exercise in wallowing in self-pity, nor do I want it to be maudlin and melodramatic.  I want it to be honest, educational, enlightening, and accurate.  So to draw from the past, I have to pick and choose the right events, emotions, and information to succeed with my goal.  It's not easy, but I intend to give it my best try!


  1. You left out courage. I think it takes courage to write about what you know, because you are putting a part of yourself out there. Even if you're disguising it, it's still a risk. In a case like yours? Major bravery.

  2. Once you give it your best, you'll come to realize that soon, you'll better your best! Be brave! Great post!

  3. Great post. The best research is in your memory stash! But it's the hardest to put together because it is fraut with emotions. Good luck.

  4. Thanks, guys! I've been told by others as well that I'm brave to do this, but I feel it's an important thing to do to get information out there. I can be the example of someone with mental illness, but I can also show that we can live happy, fulfilling, productive lives even while dealing with our illnesses.

  5. Hey Emily,

    I read this and I really relate to what you're saying. I am working on a poetry collection about an eating disorder and I am struggling with the same things, exactly as you worded it. I worry that I might be indulging myself with self pity or just being melodramatic. I don't think I would share most of my material in a large group but I really do want critical feedback. If you have anything you'd like to exchange with me, I'd love to work with you. (Even though I know we just met, so you might not be entirely comfortable with me yet). It sounds like our projects have a lot in common.