Every memoir writer knows that if and when our story gets read, the reliability of our truths will be called into question—be it by family members who contest our version, or by engaged and disbelieving readers. But the truth of any story is always the truth of the writer. By using fairy tales, this fiction-nature …

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Almost all critics of fairy tales observe the ways in which children and adults can fit themselves into these tales to better make sense of their lives. Much of this criticism is indebted to Bruno Bettelheim, who in turn is indebted to Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Bettelheim’s canonical work, the Uses of Enchantment (1976), …

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The problem with autobiography is that it is asymptotic: the writer may come as close as possible to telling a complete story, but the truth itself is untouchable simply because the living writer knows neither the end, nor the themes that will become apparent once the end has transpired. One person’s full autobiography may only …

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For so many writers of life stories, the container is the hardest part. Where to start? Where to end? Our lives are too big, if they are any good, to be contained in a box of a story. Furthermore, if we are alive to tell it, we can assume that the lives are still going …

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But, you might ask: how to begin? Sure, these ideas on wiring blocks of writing into mythic structures is nice and all, but how to get those blocks of writing out on the chopping table in the first place? My best answer is the free-write. Use it as the building block for all stories, real …

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Writers come to my studio, my workshops, my website, with the same question: How do I do it? How to I write my life to make it matter? What I endeavor in this monthly blog is to give my version of an answer. I am a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and what I …

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