Writing on Writing
“How to Leave an Essay” Hippocampus Magazine, November/December 2022
Deciding when and how to leave an essay is hard. You don’t want to drag on, but you don’t want to “dismount too early,” as a mentor once told me.
“What’s the Difference Between Memoir and Personal Essay?” Hippocampus Magazine, January/February 2022
It’s the most common questions my creative nonfiction students ask. We know memoir and personal essay overlap. Both tell true stories from the author’s life with intimacy and honesty.
“Shape Is the Thing” Hippocampus Magazine, September/October 2021
Ordinary materials—words, observations, the mutable excretions of memory and imagination—bent into extraordinary shapes.
“What Makes for Good Creative Nonfiction Writing?” Brevity Magazine Blog, August 13, 2021
One of the many measures my sons’ elementary school has in place for pandemic-time in-person learning is file boxes: an open box under each chair to hold all personal materials, so no one shares crayons or germs. Smart—in theory.
“Editor’s Note: Issue #8, April“ Waterwheel Review, April 1, 2021
I live with my husband and three young sons on the gentle eastern slope of a valley cut through by a creek. The western hill climbs steep and is overspread with boulders carried by an ancient glacier.
“Editor’s Note: Issue #5, January” Waterwheel Review, January 1, 2021
We have, with one second ticking to midnight, put 2020 behind us. But we will not forget. Like any grief, we carry 2020 forward, to reckon with, to peel apart. To name.
“Sickly Sweet Companion” Waterwheel Review, November 24, 2020
I wanted my co-editors to weigh in. “Which one is the creepiest?” I texted. Answer: THE BUNNY.
“Editor’s Note: Issue #2, October” Waterwheel Review, October 1, 2020
Just after midnight on March 3rd, an EF-3 tornado churned through an East Nashville neighborhood, killing five. The tornado missed the home of close friends, with two young children, by two blocks.
“Using Mentor Texts to Generate Prompts” Typehouse Magazine, September 8, 2020
I often get BPS (Blank Page Syndrome), for which I’ve sought prompt treatment: sentence starters, random objects, storytelling cards, dream journaling, and more.
“Essays I Remember: David McVey’s ‘On the Wonder of the World'” Longridge Review, May 2019
David McVey’s “On the Wonder of the World” drew me in immediately and made me forget I was reading a submission to Longridge Review.
“Writing Gender” Hunger Mountain, March 2012
I trained to be a teacher while on the job, working at a co-ed elementary school in Manhattan’s East Village. There, I learned the basics: engaging students, managing a classroom, and deciding what kids need to know. I felt the common newcomer’s idealism about the direct impact teachers have on students.
“The Inner Identity of Immersion Memoir” The Writer’s Chronicle, December 2011
A man is camping on a beach in Japan. It’s a stormy night. The ocean surges closer and closer to his tent but the man, having biked over two hundred miles from Kyoto to Tokyo, is too exhausted to move.
“Shape Is the Thing” Hunger Mountain, June 2011
My husband and I recently visited Montreal for our anniversary. While braving a rainstorm to check out Old Montreal’s offerings, we passed a jewelry studio, closed for the weekend.
“Writing Manifesto” Bite My Manifesto, January 2011
Early in school, we learn to tackle word problems in math class by drawing a picture, making a chart, creating a number sentence.
“The Price of Remaining Human” Hawaii Women’s Journal, November 2010
Two strangers meet on a mountain path. One dies, one lives. Decades later, they both return to finish the story.
Writing for Education
“What Are Your Teaching Fundamentals?” Edutopia, January 2018
Making a list of the essential ingredients of your teaching practice is a great way to hone your craft.
“The Grove” Community Health Narratives (University of New Mexico Press) Spring 2015
“Stop right there, Kimberly. Don’t make me come over and stop you myself.”
“Route 100” Community Health Narratives (University of New Mexico Press) Spring 2015
Shannon stares at her father, searching his face for a sign that he’s joking.
“Creativity Matters: The 7/6 Project and the Edges that Expand Writing” (co-authored with Dr. Katie Cunningham) the English Record, Winter 2013
Our lives are narratives in the making. The seven brief memoirs above, only six words each, capture within their narrow borders our life stories, the discrete parts of ourselves that constitute our identities.
“In the Clear” Environmental Health Narratives (University of New Mexico Press) July 2012
Stuffed walrus, seashell necklace, princess doll, eleven books, purple sheets, clothes, shoes, diary. Poppy looked at the pile containing all her belongings and sighed.
“The Indian in the Classroom” In The Fray, March 2009
In the fall of 2002, I was teaching third grade at an independent, coeducational elementary and middle school in Manhattan. As October rolled by, I asked a student what he was going to be for Halloween. “I’m going as an Indian,” he said, excitedly. He seemed to be looking forward to the upcoming candy fest. But to me, his response was a flag — a big red flag with “teachable moment” written all over it.
“Straight from the Horses’ Mouths” (co-authored with Dr. Katie Cunningham) ATIS Annual Publication, 2006
In recent studies of education by the American media, boys have been singled out, particularly for their poor performance in reading and writing when compared to girls, and for their overall disinterest in school.
7 Deadly Sins of the Writing Life
Hunger Mountain, Fall 2012
“Introduction” by co-author Cheryl Wilder
At a recent gathering of writers intending to read new work to each other, a friend (I’ll call him “Mark”) told me he had some positive writing news to share. Good will rose in me.
“Sloth” by co-author Cheryl Wilder
There are days when I so badly want to write, that I think I could put my infant son in his crib, close the nursery door, and let him wile away the day so I could surrender to my urge.
“Gluttony” by co-author Cheryl Wilder
Maybe it’s the election, but “Greed” comes easy to the tongue.
Wrath doesn’t sound fierce enough for its meaning. It starts with a liquid consonant and ends with a breeze through the teeth, and it’s comprised of a single syllable that contains the first vowel sound we teach to children.
“Pride” by co-author Cheryl Wilder