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  • On New Year’s Resolutions

    On New Year’s Day, 1985, I wrote down a list of goals for the new year and promised to do this until the year I die. Thirty-two years have passed. Every year, I faithfully sit on my bed and read past resolutions before creating new ones.

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  • Ruthless Editing (Or Loving Your Work to the Next Level)

    On October 1st, I started the fourth draft of my memoir by channeling George Saunders. He sees each revision as an act of love.

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  • Re-Examining the Stories We Tell About Our Lives — A Conversation with Memoirist Sharon Harrigan

    There are the stories we tell about our lives and the stories we discover if we’re brave enough to ask questions. “Re-Examining the Stories We Tell About Our Lives — A Conversation with Memoirist Sharon Harrigan” is an interview with Sharon Harrigan, author of Playing with Dynamite that was published in Huffington Post.

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  • Five Ways to Write with an Open Heart

    As I’ve mediated about how to live up to George Saunders quote, I’ve reviewed all the practices I’ve learned and taught over the years. As a way to move forward, I thought I would share a few with you.

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  • On Gardenias and Other Cathectic Objects

    I’m a big fan of cathectic objects, or as T.S. Elliot calls them objective correlatives. An objective correlative is an object, place, or character that objectifies an emotion.

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  • Here’s How To Care For Yourself During These Revolutionary Times

    “Here’s How To Care For Yourself During These Revolutionary Times,”  published on Huffington Post, shares ways to remain mindful and politically engaged during this time of turbulence.

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  • The Ribbon Test

    Some physicians feel that real illness is sanctioned by ribbons, colors, and celebrity spokespersons. Read about the challenges of life with an unsanctioned illness in The Ribbon Test published by Streetlight.

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  • Reflections on Justice

    As a kid, I used to watch the black and white movie about Martin Luther King’s life that played on PBS. My brothers and I leaned in to the thirteen-inch screen and winced with each crack of the baton or spray of a fire hose.

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  • Psychic Distance

    In my high school biology class we sliced off transparent films of onion skin with our fingernails then slipped them under wet-mount slides in order study plant cells. My onion was red. I dyed it with a single drop of methylene blue so the nuclei would be visible. As kids around me chomped gum and…

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  • How the Trust Guy Opened My Heart

    In class, I promote the power of allowing yourself to write junk.

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  • Second Draft Revisions: Rolling with Resistance

    Over the years I’ve learned that you need two things in order to sustain yourself during long projects: an intention and permission slips.

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  • Outlines: Necessary Tools that Sometimes Feel like Tight Sweaters

    I’m working on second draft revisions for a memoir I’m writing. I feel like half of my life is spent exploring a specific time in my life and the other half is spent exploring how time works, as in how things should be sequenced together.

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  • Dealing with Writer’s Block

    On February 29, 2016, I participated in #EditQs with Katie Rose Guest Pryal and Lisa Munro. During that session, we discussed the challenges of writer’s block—the feared death knell of a writing career.

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  • On My Opening Sentence Obsession

    I love it when my neuroses are validated. This time validation came from one of my literary heroes: Stephen King.

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  • Need feedback?

    Equal parts cheer and challenge, critique groups offer writers a sense of community and accountability that can improve your craft and motivation. I’ve participated in multiple critique groups over the years and believe the help they’ve provided was (and is) invaluable.

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  • Are you a Writer?

    When can you call yourself a writer? I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked this question or that I’ve asked this question of myself.

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  • Health in the Heart and Mind

    Radio interview on NPR’s With Good Reason regarding my experience as a survivor of suicide loss. The program aired nationally during the week of December 5, 2015. Click to listen

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  • Q&A With Lisa Ellison: Paying it Forward

    Interview with Sharon Vander Meer of One Roof Publishing on November 18, 2015

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  • Remembering Molly

    Personal essay published in The Rumpus on October 31, 2015 about my memories of The Breakfast Club.

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  • My brother had mental health issues and committed an awful crime. But I love him

    Personal essay published in September 14, 2015 edition of The Guardian.

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