Personal essay (narrative nonfiction, brief memoir)
Date Published: Oct 19, 2020
Publisher: Jack Walker Press
Friendships serve as a cornerstone to a rich life. Each of these twenty-four accomplished authors shares authentic stories that consider the meaning of life affirming, sometimes life saving or gut wrenching, and fun realities of investing in each other: Think chicken soup with adult beverages.
"A thoroughly enjoyable and heartfelt read! This is an invaluable book for anyone seeking insight and comprehension of the convoluted and often misunderstood road we travel known as friendship. A definite 5-star rating!" --International Review of Books
"Friends: Voices on the Gift of Companionship will take you through the full spectrum of what it means to call someone "friend." It's the book you reach for when you need to feel connected to humanity." --Skye McDonald author of the Anti-Belle series
"The authors in this anthology come from a wide range of backgrounds, and share their stories of friendship with convincing, if often difficult, passages. ...We may still regard the gifts of shared histories as nourishment to sustain us." --Carol Barrett, Ph.D. Coordinator, Creative Writing Certificate Program, Union Institute & University; author of Calling in the Bones and Pansies.
"As the stories evolve, readers will relish the personal tones, touches, and explorations that consider the nature of friendship, its gifts and resiliency, and its lasting impact on all. ...an outstanding key to understanding how relationships evolve, change, pass, and often come full circle to become even more valued as the years go by." -- D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Can you tell us a little about the process of getting this book published? How did you come up with the idea and how did you start?
Thank you for having this conversation about ‘Friends: Voices on the Gift of Companionship.” This is the second in the Voices anthology series. We selected the theme of Friendship because this relationship is essential yet underexplored. Accomplished authors submitted essays from across the country. The range of friendships astounded us. Friendships are life-affirming and can be complicated. Many were important for a season, some fizzled, some lasted decades: all helped to build that which we love about our lives.
What surprised you most about getting your book published? I wrote about a friend who is still very important to me although we have both changed. She lives a much wilder lifestyle, yet our differences have not distanced us. The surprise was that when she read the story about her, she called me crying. She thought the story was beautiful and had always wondered how I judged her life choices. Our relationships are so important. “Friends“ is becoming a popular gift as a way to tell a friend that they are cherished.
Tell us a little about what you do when you aren’t writing
I’m a nature nut. Mushrooms, Cedar waxwings, wood violets, fuzzy bear caterpillars and more all captivate me. Every nature walk I take brings me new observations, details to explore, and reasons to love our Mother Earth. Much of my reading and writing involves the natural world.
As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
For me, the writing life makes my existence more vivid. A moment that may have passed from my memory will enrich my life if I’ve written about it, explored it, and assigned it meaning through a journal entry or personal essay. I wrote a series of walking essays about times in nature with my son. The moments in Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting are more vivid and meaningful to me not only because they exist in print, but because I spent time processing those days. The writer Joan Didion said that she wrote to find out what she thinks about a topic. I’d have to agree that our values, our priorities, and our loves, can be magnified within the writing life. So writing a book about time with my son did slowly pivot me into someone who confidently calls themselves a writer.
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is? I have to admit that I get ideas all the time: too many ideas. I’ve got a wild brain. My challenge is to focus on my priorities and goals while honoring the gift of inspiration. The Poet Liam Rector adopted the literary metaphor of a vortex for the graduate program at Bennington where I received my MFA in Writing and Literature. Put many different experiences, practice writings, discussion, readings and more into a life of letters and the ideas and work will flow from that. Liam’s metaphor lets me be at peace with my wild brain.
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? We do have to buck up when it comes to criticism. People have a right to love or not relate to my work. One thing that does bug me is when people say they don’t usually like books like this and approach it negatively. So, If you don’t like personal essays, It’s tough to hear your criticism of a collection of personal essays. And I wonder why someone wouldn’t like personal essays, not every personal essay, but from David Sedaris to Bell Hooks and beyond, personal essays entertain and inform as much as any work of fiction or poetry. Do I sound defensive? I am defending the personal essay and narrative nonfiction. Try some today!
What has been your best accomplishment as a writer? My best accomplishment happens every day I work through my own resistance to create written art that didn’t exist before. I once thought that writing got easier, but every day is the resistance, the fear, and usually the breakthrough to words on the page.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? What a great question. I have files full of ideas. One book, in particular, I researched for years, abandoned, restarted, abandoned; it haunts me. I’ve probably got another dozen books 10% in, they wait like neglected children. I fight the guilt.
Thanks so much. If your readers would like to sign up for a chance to win a free copy of Friends: Voices on The Gift of Companionship, they may do so at JackWalkerPress.com until the end of 2020.
About the Author
paperback copies of Friends