“When it gets too easy, I need to challenge myself and make it harder again.” —Jen Miller
What’s this? Three weeks in a row? It’s happening, folks, and thanks for hanging in while I get my feet back under me after the big, cross-country move.
What better way to follow up that sentence than by talking about Jen Miller (@ByJenAMiller), a runner who wrote the engaging, funny, and raw memoir Running: A Love Story(Seal Press, 2016). It’s about running, love, and control and we talk about that and much more.
We also chat about freelancing and some of the more granular details of the business that I think will benefit any freelancer, novice or expert.
Paul talked a lot about his own process and how that has changed over the years. He also talked about some of the best advice he can give an aspiring writer: cultivating fandom.
Why don’t you just listen to him?
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“I never imagined that I would write this book. I never imagined actually that I could write any book. The idea of book-length work terrified me.” —Sarah Einstein (@SarahEM2 on Twitter)
“I believe you have to give memory time to mellow and age and become a narrative.” —Sarah Einstein
Here I’ve got Sarah Einstein, author of Mot: A Memoir, a book that explores the friendship between Sarah and a homeless, mentally ill man named Mot (Tom backwards). He’s a brilliant, fascinating, resourceful man and an unlikely source of stability for Sarah during this period of her life.
In any case here’s the streaming player and notes from the show:
Shepherd, A Memoir, by Richard Gilbert, Michigan State University Press, 318 pages, $24.95
Part of what made reading Shepherd so enjoyable was knowing some of the story behind the story. Day 1 of a book’s conception is never—repeat, never—what the book will look like when it births. At that point you cut the cord and watch the book gasp for air. Give it a whack on the bum. Continue reading “Shepherd: Lambing, Farming, Fatherhood”
Sheri Booker’s memoir Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home chronicles her near-decade long experience immersed the culture of death. Everything from picking up bodies to preserving them in the inner sanctum of Wylie Funeral Home.
In it Booker learns that death knows no age and that a funeral home is every bit a part of a community as a church. She also answers the age-old question of whether bodies move on the embalming table or not.
I’m not prone to fun. I don’t like crowds. I have broad shoulders so I tend to bump into people. I’m not very social. I like to watch movies on my somewhat undersized TV and read books. My wife doesn’t like me^1^. If there’s wet blankets, I’m like the smallpox-infected blankets Jeffery Amherst gave to Native Americans.
But I have fun when I listen to Book Fight: Tough Love for Literature. It’s a podcast for writer’s, though serious readers would dig it too. It’s a podcast about books, but a podcast recorded as if it were cool to talk about books at your favorite bar. It’s profane^2^, curmudgeonly, and just good company.
Tom McCallister, co-host of Book Fight and author of Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly, is a friend of sorts, though we’ve never met. We “met” through email when I gave his memoir a 2-star review on Goodreads. He wrote to me about it and I gave him my reasons. He does a great thing in his memoir that has to be applauded: he writes an unflattering picture of himself, which is a lesson unto itself in memoir. I gave it 2 stars because I wanted more of his father in the story and I don’t like footnotes^3^. He’s a great writer, an unpretentious product of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, which says something in and of itself. All in all, if you’re writing memoir, you should read his. His book has 45 ratings on Goodreads, which is a ton (I have 12) and most are 5 stars. Overall it’s a 3.84 stars out of 45 reviews. That gives you an idea that it’s a great book.
Since that first email a few years ago, we’ve kept in touch about sports and writing. Then he started the Book Fight podcast with Mike Ingram, fiction editor at Barrelhouse. It’s a fun listen. I’m listening right now. Naturally, if you’re a geek for the mechanics of prose, subscribe to it on iTunes.
1. Not entirely true. She likes the occasional social interaction where I’d rather stay home and read. 2. Not overly so, tastefully profane, like talking sports at a bar. But not a Philly, New York, or Boston bar. Maybe like a Seattle bar, or an Asheville, NC bar. 3. I have since come around to footnotes. I found them so disruptive to the narrative that I usually can’t continue reading. It’s like reading with the TV on or something. They make for funny tributaries that don’t belong in the main river.
The offer still stands, for a time, that should you subscribe to this website, I’ll send you a personalized copy of Six Weeks in Saratoga. Subscribe, I’ll reach out to you. My thanks to you. If you factor in shipping, that’s a $30-value, if you’re into value plays.