Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Women Writing on Family: Always topical here, and now - it's a book!

When your work is occasionally published in essay collections or other anthologies, a fun day is when the ARC (advanced reading copy) arrives, and you get to see, often for the first time, what other writers and topics will be in that same book, and how the issues are treated across hundreds of pages.

Yesterday the ARC arrived of the forthcoming book Women Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing (edited by Carol Smallwood and Suzann Holland – Key Publishing/Canada, Jan 2012). I have two contributions in it, both on the topic of writing about one's spouse in nonfiction. One is a round-up of tips and techniques used by other contemporary women nonfiction writers, and the other is an interview with writer Meredith Hall, about the absence of the spouse in her memoir, Without A Map.

Since the book arrived yesterday, I've been delighted to find within its pages, contributions from one other writer who is a good personal friend – Christin Geall; from writers I've come to communicate with online – Kate Hopper, Cassie Premo Steele, and Caroline Grant; from a writer whose memoir I loved – Catherine Gildiner; and from one whose teaching ideas I admire – Sheila Bender. Together, they've written on such diverse issues as narrative voice, non-paid writing, journaling, writing about memories, writing conferences, confidence, making time to write, and working with editors.

And there are so many other articles and essays from talented, thoughtful and resourceful women writers in the U.S. and Canada. I can tell, from the titles alone, so much of it will be worth reading -- pieces on: voice, marketing and market research, web writing pros and cons, organizing critique groups, personal essay craft, writing about childhood and about one's children, character development, research, writing about grandparents, the MFA and PhD, rattling family skeletons, writing about illness in the family, moving between fiction and memoir, seeing family members as characters, lines between history and imagination, avoiding sentimentality, and so much more. It's packed, at 320 pages.

Timing is everything, right? I worked on my two pieces for this book back in 2008, but just this week, I am concluding teaching an online creative nonfiction class, which has focused each week on a different aspect of writing about family, about our memories, about difficult personal issues. Yet, for the nonfiction writer who focuses on crafting personal narratives, writing essays based on personal experiences, and envisioning memoirs which, of necessity, includes as characters others who are important in one's life, these issues are also timeless.

You can preorder the book now here (I won't earn any commission.) I hope you'll consider getting yourself a copy, and also passing the information/link along to your writing friends.