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Writing prompt of the month

I’m reading Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir right now (see review in this newsletter), and it’s a book that has come at the perfect time for me. It’s saying what I need to hear right now. I love when that happens.

Karr is an author committed to the genre of memoir who has written three to date, The Liar’s Club, Cherry, and Lit. That’s someone I want to learn from. Many authors write only one memoir and then go back to their first genre—novels, short stories, poetry, etc. I enjoy those stories, but I love the likes of Karr, Rick Bragg, Tobias Wolff, and others, who continue to delve into their lives for more material. But, I digress.

Mary Karr gives us our writing prompt for the month. In chapter three, she talks about reasons not to write a memoir and discusses being at the “nadir of my confidence as a writer” when she wrote Lit. A friend asked her, “What would you write if you weren’t afraid?”

She goes on to say, “I honestly didn’t know at first. But I knew finding the answer would unlock the writing for me.”

As someone who encourages people, including myself, to write in spite of fear, I ask you Karr’s question, what would you write if you weren’t afraid? What would you commit to paper if you knew no one would ever see it? What would you write if you weren’t worried about how you’d look or sound on the page? If you’re brave, tell us about it.


  • Judi
    Posted May 3, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Ah, but I am afraid. I have only written briefly about these times, the times I’m afraid of. I have them buried. Deep. Somewhere I won’t trip over them accidentally. If I trip over them, all the fear and anguish and pain will come to the surface, and I don’t want to feel all that again. There is just to much feeling, and I don’t want to feel it ever again. No, I cannot write about it, nor do I want to, but at some point I will have to…

    • Brenda O'Connor
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      It is a truism that fear controls us until we face it. But facing it what makes us afraid. Time will help and once confronted we will take that power back. Good luck.

  • Brenda O'Connor
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I’m afraid of what will happen when the announcement is made, when it becomes public, when everyone knows. I hate being afraid. I hate caring what others will think. I’m 74 years old. I need to believe it doesn’t matter what other people think. What they think is their responsibility – not yours – not mine.

    But, in truth, it does matter. There will be those who hate us. There will be those who shun us. There will be those who pity us. There will be those who are two-faced, supporting us to our face, but gossiping behind our backs. And, Thank God, there will be those who love us. They will embrace us, accept us, and defend us even when they don’t understand, even when they are shocked, even when they are uncomfortable.

    Some will make it easy with their stated view whether accepting or rejecting. We will know where they stand. It will be hard letting those family and friends go who reject with hate and meanness, who scorn those we love, who wrap themselves in judgmental condemnations and biblical wrath. It will be disappointing to discover how fragile blood ties or life long friendships can be, but it will be gratifying to know that there are bonds that are made of sterner stuff.

    The announcement has to be made sooner rather than later. Then we will know and fear will cease and then I will write about it.

    • Judi
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Well written. I will be praying for you.

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