Friday’s CNF Roundup

As My Brilliant Mistakes gears up to publish interviews in the near future, we’re offering a Friday round up of some of the most interesting essays, reflections and controversies related to CNF we’ve read in the past week:

Chicago author Martha Bayne

Chicago author Martha Bayne

What happens when an essay you’ve published about your accidental pregnancy goes viral, and you’re the subject of an episode of NPR’s  Fresh Air? Writer memoirist Martha Bayne can’t tell you, because while she did record a nearly hour-long interview with Terry Gross, she got flummoxed and producers killed the segment. Instead, her essay in this past week’s Rumpus offers a really thoughtful look at what it means to go public with a story before you really feel ready to do so.

Thing We Loved About this Story #1: Bayne’s bravery in making this a dialogue with her friend Zoe Zolbrod, thereby enlarging the scope of her story.

Thing We Loved About this Story #2:  “Once you put a story in writing, especially when it’s actually read as widely as your essay was, it fixes something that is still unfolding. You end up having to impersonate yourself.” — Zoe Zolbrod. How wall-worthy axiomatic! 

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How many times have creative writing teachers told you that your memoir/personal essay isn’t therapy? But what’s so terrible about therapy, anyhow? After all, didn’t the inimitable Patricia Hampl make the link between the sense-making of memory you do in therapy and the sense-making you do in a first draft in her essay “Memory and Imagination”?

In the latest issue of Creative Nonfiction, Tara DaPra tackles the fear surrounding the therapeutic dimensions of memoir writing:

From my experience in an MFA program, the academy doesn’t like to talk about the fact that writing emotionally driven memoir is, in fact, cathartic, at least initially. That’s the drafting stage—getting it out of one’s head and on to the paper—and sometimes the draft comes out sounding like, “My boyfriend—boy, was he a jerk.” If the writer doesn’t know what to do with the material, if she can’t see anything bigger than “this happened,” there are three choices….

Read more.

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Half-satyr, half-satirist Gary Shteyngart turns pensive.

Gary Shteyngart

Satirist, success story, and satyr Gary Shteyngart is writing a memoir about (his) Soviet family’s immigration to the U.S. in 1979. Titled Little Failure, the book is due out from Random House in January 2014. Reports Shteyngart, “I’ve finally written a book that isn’t a ribald satire and because it’s actually based on my life, contains almost no sex whatsoever. I’ve lived this troubled life so others don’t have to. Learn from my failure, please.”

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