About Me

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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 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. In December of 2016, The Mondegreen nominated my story "Santa Lucia" for a Pushcart Prize. I've written a novel entitled Purple Loosestrife and a novel entitled Hoping It Might Be So, both of which I am submitting to agents and publishers. I'm working on a novel called Dark and Bright as well as a book called Violets Are Blue: Essays About My Bipolar Life. 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!

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Poem by Stephen Crane and Memoir Writing

This is one of my favorite poems. It's by Stephen Crane:

Many red devils ran from my heart
And out upon the page.
They were so tiny
The pen could mash them.
And many struggled in the ink.
It was strange 
To write in this red muck
Of things from my heart.

This makes me think of the difficulty of writing a memoir, which I am in the process of doing. It does feel as though I'm writing in red muck of things from my heart. I'm writing about my experiences with bipolar disorder, and while for the past several years, I've been doing very well, there were some dark times in the past that are very difficult to write about.

So how do you approach such things in a memoir? For me, I just free write and get it all out onto the page. I often do this free writing by hand and type it up later. There's something about the connection among hand, pen, and paper that helps me to fully explain and explore. When I then get this "red muck" typed up, I go over it and edit it--make it coherent, organize it, put it into the form of a readable narrative of my experiences. This is what I would recommend to anyone writing a memoir.

Another thing I do is write out of order. I find that I can't start with, say, 1995, and then write up to the present. I might arrange the memoir that way in the end, but while writing it, it's easier to jump around and write about whatever is on my mind at a given time. I also recommend this approach to others. Of course, it can depend on what sort of mood you're in. If I'm feeling a bit down, I don't want to write about darker things, so I might write about more recent years and some of my triumphs over the disorder. Whereas if I'm feeling good and happy, I might tackle some of the darker things because they won't be as likely to get me down and they won't be as hard to write about.

I find that writing a memoir is much more difficult than writing a novel. I got the rough draft of my novel, Purple Loosestrife, done in a few months, and I pretty much wrote it linearly. Not so with the memoir. I've got about four chapters of it written, and these have taken me about as long as did the writing of the whole rough draft of my novel. So to write a memoir, especially one which contains emotionally charged material, I recommend having a lot of patience and perseverance.

2 comments:

  1. Very uplifting, thank you so much!! You are a great teacher in many ways, and I have learned so much from you and the group. I am so glad we became friends.

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    1. Donna, I'm so sorry it's taken me this long to reply. I just now saw your comment. Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad we became friends, too, and I'm glad you're a part of the group.

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