ARCHIVE FOR Writing the Family

The Shape of our Stories

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Vonnegut wrote his master’s thesis on his theory that all stories could be graphed by computers – with good- and ill-fortune on the y-axis and time on the x-axis.

 

He believed novels were ultimately about how characters get into and out of trouble and that plots – no matter how varied their premises – could be represented by a mere handful of simple shapes.

Ben Berman

What to Expect when you're not Expecting

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When I first started telling friends that my wife and I were pregnant with our older daughter, my wife would shoot me a look to remind me that only one of us, technically, was pregnant.

 

So I can’t help but feel the pettiest of joys in the fact that my four-year-old happens to believe that while her older sister was born in the most conventional of ways (uterus, birth canal), she somehow managed to emerge out of my stomach.

Ben Berman

The Writing Life

Rejection Notices

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For a long time, whenever I would drop my older daughter off at a birthday party, she would cling to my leg and beg me to stay, promise me half her slice of cake if I promised not to leave.

 

Then one day I brought her to a classmate’s party and before I knew it she was off running around with her friends without even waving goodbye – and I just stood there, with a dull, nameless pang rooting around in my chest.

Ben Berman

The Writing Life

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Dream

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My daughters have been obsessed lately with the soundtrack to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

 

And though I’ve grown tired of it looping endlessly on repeat, the English teacher in me loves to sing along whenever the narrator croons to young Joseph: If you can interpret you will go far. If you can interpret you’ll be a star.

 

Ben Berman

The Writing Life

Anatomy of a Line

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My four-year-old has been refusing to eat dinner lately.

 

Sometimes she tells me that she’s too tired to eat, sometimes she protests the tiny specks of color that somehow made it into her meal. Once she tried explaining that some people are eating people and some people are not.

 

At first, I thought I’d let her suffer the natural consequences of her actions. But once I realized that the natural consequences of her actions involved her waking me up at 2 a.m. to ask for a bowl of cheerios, I figured I needed a new strategy.

Ben Berman

The Writing Life