Tag Archives: Patricia Hampl

Windows onto a Wider World

The real subject of autobiography is not one’s experience but one’s consciousness.  Memoirists use the self as a tool.            –Patricia Hampl Perhaps because I’m entering my twenty-third year of teaching writing, I’m getting curmudgeonly about memoir.  I still revere fine examples in the genre, but the vast majority of memoir seems myopic and disengaged.  Published works irritate me the most; I read a memoir like Sheryl Strayed’s Wild and run screaming back to the classics … Continue reading

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Write–Or Be Written.

This past weekend my sister married the man she loves in a sunny meadow.  Because this was her second marriage, she had resisted it mightily—“marriage” is a story the culture imposes on couples, and it doesn’t necessarily work.  You have to understand—Marcy is a woman who, on her own, adopted two boys from Guatemala; she started a community farm and has midwifed countless babies into the world.  Her performance artist sweetie moved in two years … Continue reading

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Dismissing, Then Welcoming the Audience

You must sympathize with the reader’s plight (most readers are in trouble about half the time) but never seek to know the reader’s wants.  Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. When I came upon these words in Strunk and White’s classic writing handbook, Elements of Style, I felt pleased as punch.  For years I’ve tried to convince writing … Continue reading

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