Memoirist Mary Karr on writing “one true sentence”:
“Specifically, I didn’t want to write about my son’s father, my ex-husband. So my first go at this book, I was about 200 hundred pages in, and I would write up to that point, and then sort of try to pole vault: “Nine years later,” and just kind of, “comma,” to try get around this thing. And the temptation then, when I first wrote about it, was to make him in a way more saintly, and me more bedraggled and slatternly. And again, this isn’t a James Frey thing where I said we were in prison and we weren’t. It’s not a Jayson Blair thing where you say you talk to people who don’t exist. It’s about motive.
“I think one reason the people I’ve written about often remain very friendly – I have one here tonight – and they don’t seem to want to sue me or they’re not mad at me, is that I really try very hard not to attribute motives to other people that I cannot guarantee, unless somebody has told me, “This is my motive.” I really try often not even to speculate. So what was hardest for me in writing about my husband wasn’t the terrible moments between us, which all of you know who have had terrible moments with anybody. You usually remember the most horrible thing they said, and in some ways it’s always unfair, because it’s always out of context. It’s usually that they were richly provoked.
“I could have started the memoir, “It all started when he hit me back.” But I think when people read the book, and I’m thinking of running over my husband when he moves in the garbage cans, I don’t think people assume that’s an accurate assessment of who he is. I think it’s pretty clear who the asshole is.”
Read the rest here: http://niemanstoryboard.us/2010/07/28/mary-karr-memoir-and-the-truth-mayborn-conference-2010/
(Thanks for the link, Andrea!)
The CLMP (Council of Literary Magazines and Presses) is offering a collection of audio recordings from recent events, in case you weren't able to attend or would like to hear something again. Included are: select CLMP panels and workshops from AWP 2011, panels from our Fall 2010 Literary Writers Conference, and our Periodically Speaking series at the New York Public Library. To listen to any of the selections, simply click on a title here.
A short but effective piece by Melanie Bishop in the Glimmer Train bulletin about the difference between a true story and a vignette: “My favorite definition of a short story is also the shortest one I've ever heard: Something happens.”
Read the rest here.
From The Missouri Review:
The deadline for The Missouri Review’s Audio Competition is fast approaching, and we would love to receive your entry! Prizes will be awarded for high-quality recordings of poets and writers reading their work and for audio documentaries on any subject.
Winners in each of four categories receive $1,000, and winning entries will be featured on our website and made available to our subscribers. All entrants receive a one-year subscription to The Missouri Review.
Deadline: March 15th
Entries should be sent by mail and must include a CD or DVD, entry form, entry fee, and author bio. For full details and to download an entry form, please see our website: http://www.missourireview.com/contest/audio_competition.php
And you can view a PDF copy of our contest advertisement here.