What I Learned from Peter Pan: In Praise of Crowing

photo by David Jones
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, London
photo by David Jones

One of my first heroes was Peter Pan. He was a kid who could go toe to toe with grownups—pirates, even. I liked the way he unabashedly crowed whenever he was pleased with himself, which was most of the time.  He bragged incorrigibly and unapologetically about the smallest achievement. The narrator doesn’t sugarcoat it:

“To put it with brutal frankness,” he says, “There never was a cockier boy.”

I envied Peter’s confidence. It thrilled me when he crowed,

“How clever I am! Oh, the cleverness of me!”

I longed for that kind of self-assurance, let along the audacity to stand on a chair and shout about it—the way Peter did at every opportunity. Continue reading What I Learned from Peter Pan: In Praise of Crowing

Whose Story? The Ethics of Writing Memoir

I’ve been jittery ever since I found out my essay “The Saltwater Twin” would be published in Creative Nonfiction this summer. peering through curtainI know that’s the objective: I want stuff I write to be published, to be out in the world and part of conversations and all of that. But I don’t think about that while I’m writing, I just write. I sort things out, I investigate what troubles me, what makes me curious and what I don’t understand. Sometime later it sinks in that people are going to read what I wrote and that I’ve written about real people, living and breathing in the world, people who might also decide to read what I’ve written. Continue reading Whose Story? The Ethics of Writing Memoir

Strange but True Stories of Survival

photo by Sean Munson

Summertime update: My essay “The Saltwater Twin” (which the observant among you will notice shares a name with this blog) is coming out in a great magazine called Creative Nonfiction. This month! As in, you can order it nowcreative nonfictionCreative Nonfiction, according to their website, “was the first and is still the largest literary magazine to publish, exclusively and on a regular basis, high quality nonfiction prose.” This issue is subtitled, “Strange but True Stories of Survival and Unlikely Events.” Editor Lee Gutkind called “The Saltwater Twin” a depiction of “the author’s struggle to avoid drowning, both literally and metaphorically.”

The essay that appears in Creative Nonfiction is essentially the first chapter of my work-in-progress, The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures. While I continue to work towards the goal of publishing a book, a chunk of my time each week has also been spent looking for online and print publications that might be good places to submit chapters and excerpts of chapters. I was initially somewhat frantic about this task and the hours it took away from The Writing of the Book, but it’s actually been a pretty significant learning opportunity – I’m a better writer for it.  Continue reading Strange but True Stories of Survival

Writing Road Trip

photo by Jordan LaSalle

May 28, 2013. It was a Memorial Day weekend of firsts: first trip to Pittsburgh, first writers’ conference, first seitan taco.

The Creative Nonfiction Foundation in Pittsburgh publishes books and a magazine dedicated to literary nonfiction and offers workshops, mentoring and online classes. It’s entirely possible there’s an excerpt from The Saltwater Twin in a pile on someone’s desk in their office from my last round of submissions. Several weeks ago I decided to sign up for their Best of Creative Nonfiction Conference and started planning a road trip to Pittsburgh.

road trip j and mMay 24. My friend Jordan and I left Chicago around noon and made our first pit stop somewhere in Indiana at a really outstanding rest stop where we bought some friendship bracelets for ourselves and our Pittsburgh hosts – those kind made with the embroidery thread. I’ll never get tired of them. Jordan snapped my photo (wearing my new bracelet) next to the pouty McDonald’s girl and we fortified ourselves with some chocolate.

photo by Jordan LaSalle
photo by Jordan LaSalle

Continue reading Writing Road Trip