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Writer Waking Up - A Publication Blog

On Letting Go...

Today's post concludes a three-part Q&A series I began a couple of months ago: I requested long-time writing friends to ask me the questions that came to mind when they read A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations. My interviewer for this post is Marjorie Hudson, author of the nonfiction narrative Searching for Virginia Dare and the story collection Accidental Birds of the Carolinas.

MH: How did you become a writer? What has writing brought you in your life?

CH: I only accidentally became a writer, but like many writers, I grew up with a big reading habit. Our little old house was stuffed with books, and I consumed them with the same enthusiasm I consumed candy. Really, those were similarly palliative obsessions. The house was packed full of tension and secrets, too, and curling up in a closet or a tree with a book was a sure-fire, temporary escape. All through my childhood my parents took us children to the public library every week. I checked out as many books as I was allowed and made sure to read them all before the next visit. I started with picture books, of course; I adored Dr. Suess--all that rhyming and lively language rhythm made me giddy. I developed an odd fascination with books that categorized things, especially animals. I devoured big picture books of facts on every breed of dog, cat, horse, chicken--seriously: chickens. At home, I was reading the World Book Encyclopedia cover to cover, a set of 25 volumes from the early 1950s with tiny print and black-and-white photos. I think I wanted to know everything there was to know without quite realizing that was my goal.  Read More 
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On ambivalence, and its gifts...

In today's post, I present part two of a three-part Q&A series, in which I've asked long-time writing friends for the questions that came to mind when they read A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations. The questions below came from novelist Marian Szczepanski, author of Playing Saint Barbara, and a creative writing teacher at Writespace in Houston and the Writers' League of Texas in Austin.

MS: Have you ever felt conflicted or ambivalent about chronicling events such as emotionally charged or challenging family situations that involve other people, particularly those who are still alive and may read your book?

CH: This is an interesting question because I've been asked many times how family members, etc., feel about the book, but no one has asked me about my own emotional response to writing about real as opposed to imagined people.
When I first realized that I was going to have to write a memoir, I felt sick. By "have to," I mean that every time I sat down to write fiction I found myself writing pages and pages of introspective self-examination embedded in recollected stories about the people and events in my life that confounded me. By "sick," I mean actually nauseated and definitely terrified. But, given the first condition--nothing coming through the writing pipeline but my own intense need to make sense, or try to, of my life to that point, the second condition--discomfort and doubt with the project ahead of me--was simply something I had to wade through day by day at the writing desk. I mean, are there any writers who don't feel that way, at least sometimes, at the start of a writing project, fiction or nonfiction? Read More 
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On the role of Buddhism in this memoir

In today's post, I begin a three-part Q&A series. I asked long-time writing friends to ask me the questions that came to mind when they read A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations. I begin with questions posed by poet Karen Whalley, author of The Rented Violin.

KW: When I read your work, I see part of the beauty in your essays as being a sparse, purposeful pairing of imagery and commentary, and I'm wondering whether your Buddhist practice has perhaps informed your work.  Read More 
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