ARCHIVE FOR Judah Leblang

A Sense of Place: Cleveland and Me

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It’s an old adage to “write what you know,” especially in nonfiction. And some writers, such as Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones, suggest that we write about our obsessions. Personally, those obsessions and my sense of self merged with the industrial city that formed me: Cleveland, Ohio.

When I was a boy, my hometown was a source of both pride and shame

January 18, 2017 | Judah Leblang

Craft Advice The Writing Life

Writing Our Real Lives in a Time of Chaos

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GrubStreet instructor Judah Leblang on the value of personal essay and the individual voice, no matter the political climate. Don't miss Judah teaching Personal Essay and Memoir Jumpstarter starting January 11th.


As a memoir or personal essay writer in the Age of Trump, I wonder why it matters—what is the point of writing about my individual experience, as the country seems to be lurching toward an abyss

December 29, 2016 | Judah Leblang

The Writing Life

Why I Write Vol. 4: The Right to Take Up Space

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In this series, "Why I Write," members of the Grub community share what compels them to put words onto paper day after day. In this edition, instructor Judah Leblang talks about reclaiming his past through writing. Judah will be teaching Jumpstart Your Nonfiction this fall.


I jokingly tell my students, if and when they ask me about my writing practice, that I write under two conditions: when I have a firm (non-negotiable) deadline, and when the pain of not writing surpasses the pain of doing so. In other words, in my fifteen years of writing professionally, I’ve …

September 2, 2016 | Judah Leblang

Books & Reading

What Does It Mean to "Write from Real Life?"

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To me, this form of nonfiction writing is about taking our personal experiences and using them as the raw material for memoir vignettes — I think of them as flash memoir — and for personal essays on universal topics, such as looking for love, dealing with illness and loss, aging, forgiveness, taking risks, etc.

I think of a quote from Flannery O’Connor, which I’ll paraphrase as "anyone who has survived childhood has enough stories to last a lifetime." For those of us who grew up in complicated, (dysfunctional) families, and/or who have experienced numerous times when life did not go …

March 29, 2016 | Judah Leblang

Craft Advice