Joan Didion wrote in The White Album, “We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.” At what point does the written record of a memory become fantasy? If I write something from the perspective of how it felt, as opposed to how it actually happened, can I still classify it as nonfiction? – Anonymous
August 24, 2012 | Allison Adair
When writing an argumentative essay, which comes first, writing for yourself or writing for your audience? I have always been taught to write first and foremost for myself, but in an argumentative essay, do I put my readers first? --Lori Shaughnessy
Dear Lori –
Short answer: Yes. Put your readers first.
May 25, 2012 | Allison Adair
I am a college student so I am bogged down with lots of work for my classes from research papers to regular reading assignments. I feel like any and all practice in writing and exposure to classical novels should be helpful to my growth as a writer, but I can't help worrying that I am losing my creative side. Now when I sit down to write short stories I feel tired and my idea well seems dried up before I even put a paragraph on the page
April 20, 2012 | Allison Adair
My family is curious about my writing and has asked me to bring my poems to our next family gathering. However, they’re not writers or even readers of poetry, and their reaction to my work is generally something along the lines of, “It’s good. I don’t get it, but it’s good.” How can I present my work to my eager family in a more accessible way? – O. Noetry
March 16, 2012 | Allison Adair
One of my professors always told us to follow in our favorite writers’ footsteps as models for our own writing. Is this good advice, or should we be challenging ourselves as writers and looking to authors whose genres we may not be reading as models for our own writing? --Elle Meyers
Dear Elle --
Short Answer: In theory, both!