The Amazon First Reads program is fantastic. I don’t know if you need to have an Amazon Prime membership, but I do and I think it is through this that I got an invitation into First Reads which allows members to download one out of of six pre-release books a month. You can choose from a variety of genres and every book that I have gotten through this program has been excellent.
The last book I finished through First Reads was Winter Loon by Susan Bernhard. The novel begins with tragic choices made by a mother and son on frozen lake which sets the groundwork for a well paced story that explores the broken lives of three generations. Despite the dark atmosphere, the ending sated my desire for justice for the protagonist, Wes Ballot. It has been a rare thing for me to experience satisfaction at the conclusion of a modern novel.
It turns out that the author’s acknowledgements at the end may have been the most valuable read for me. Bernhard mentioned that she was part of the Grub Street Incubator program. I had read about this place before and wanted to check it out but I could never commit to a full class for both financial and time reasons. However, I decided to do a search for Grub Street again. This time the very first hit caught my eye. It was for a one night workshop entitled Lyric Essay: Blending Memoir and Research… and it was in three days! I told my husband about it, and he encouraged me to sign up and so I did.
Here is the course description,
“The lyric essay offers a brilliant opportunity to engage both creative and academic sensibilities. The best writers in this genre are capable of using science, literary theory, citation, and more to open new gateways for exploring and understanding their own personal narratives. In this class, we will read essayists who combine these techniques to create complex woven narratives, as well as researching, brainstorming, and beginning drafts of our own lyric essays.”
According to Wikipedia, the Lyric Essay is “a contemporary creative nonfiction form which combines qualities of poetry, essay, memoir, and research writing, while also breaking the boundaries of the traditional five-paragraph essay. As a genre unto itself, the lyric essay tends to combine conventions of many different genres.”
I think I have finally found the perfect genre for me. I do not have time to complete my fiction — short or long. Poetry is good, but I never felt quite at home with the genre. I always felt like I should be writing differently or more but even when I expanded my verse and experimented I never felt it had the structure to fully support my ideas or visions. Now that I have taken this class I can see how I can weld my words to the steely I-beams offered by the architecture of the essay. All of the sudden I feel like I can focus.
Everything about Friday night’s workshop was great. Our instructor was Torrin Greathouse and there were five students including myself. I was the least educated and experienced writer of all of us, but I felt like I contributed well. I was the stay-at-home mom who dreamed of writing, and this was her first class. I was that student. The guy who sat next to me had been taking classes at Grub Street for five or six years, and he said this class was particularly good. He is a former journalist who teaches history now and has written a historical fiction novel. He has an agent and is just rewriting the beginning of his book. It was a comfort to meet someone who had a lot of writing under his belt and who thought this class was a great introduction to Grub Street.
It is now two days after the course, and I am trying to find time to write. Again, this has been the worst challenge for me since my life is so busy with all the kids and housework. However, I know I am extremely lucky to have a husband who is supportive of any writing I do. He has always believed in me, and he always thought I had talent. I just don’t know when I will be good enough. I don’t know how to get good enough. And I am quite aware that I may feel like I will never be good enough to be read by anyone at anytime. Imposter syndrome can be a lifetime affliction.
Pray for me. Give me advice. Throw some reading recommendations my way. Thank you for everything and anything you have to offer. I appreciate it all.