memories like dreams

Good morning from New York City!

I  made this little video last night as a way of announcing that I will soon be releasing my essay collection into the world.

I spent a long time pondering what to do with this one, and after much deliberation, settled on self-publishing.I thought really hard about traditional publishing and talked to a lot of people about it. There is the whole idea that traditional publishing gives your book more currency. Being accepted by an agent, an editor, and a publisher is a significant stamp of approval. But I decided I don’t want their approval. I did this work. It’s mine. And now I’m sending it out into the world to have a life of its own.

If I went the traditional publishing route, my life would continue to revolve around getting this thing out the door for the next year at least. But I don’t want to do that. I want to move on to the next thing.

So, in the next month, keep an eye out, and I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Wish me luck!

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Memories of Kissing

Memories of Kissing from Mary Richert on Vimeo.

So, it’s my 2nd video! Ever since finishing my MFA manuscript, I’ve been pondering what to do with these essays. I wrote about 150 pages of essays on something I call personal myth, which is an idea that I still want to write about more, but I haven’t wanted to touch the manuscript with a 10 foot pole since finishing the degree. I just needed to let it sit for a while. My husband keeps telling me to send it out to agents as-is, but I feel like it’s not ready for that. On the other hand, I do have a few pretty nice pieces in there, so I decided to share this one with y’all.

I thought this was a pretty fun piece. Interestingly, I didn’t really think it was funny, but when I read it for my classmates, people were guffawing. I swear, I actually heard a snort at one point. I hope you’ll find it funny, too, and hey … maybe you can help me figure out what to do with the rest of these pages!

P.S.: I realize the aspect ratio is off. I’m still new to this video stuff, so with my next video, I will fix that problem.

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Post Mortem: What’s wrong with this essay?

Remember Assignment 4? Follow through, that was my task. And I did it. And then I got rejected. No biggie. I mean, at least I hadn’t labored over that essay for months or years trying to express just the right thing. Granted, that’s probably the main reason it was rejected. I probably need to spend more time on revision and honing in on exactly what I want to say.

Okay then, so noted.

In the mean time, here’s the essay, in all its naked, un-edited glory. I’ve posted it on The Nervous Breakdown, and the comments are open for your critique. Please note that constructive criticism is welcome, and I sincerely do not want a bunch of “Oh, it’s just lovely. I don’t know what those editors were thinking!” Because clearly, they had their pick of essays to publish, and mine didn’t make the cut. So, lets get to it.

What’s wrong with this essay?

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Battle of the Narrators Part 2: First Person Wins

Thanks for your input on the Battle of the Narrators.

So, I decided to go with first person after all, and you can read the completed essay here: Anxiety Paints a Self Portrait on The Nervous Breakdown

Why did I go with first person? Well, because the piece was about me, and it felt dishonest to try and disguise that fact in any way.

Why was I considering using any other narrative perspective? Because first person can be annoying, for one thing. And because I do want to expand into writing about other things and other people, and because I was struggling with how to put this piece together at all.

There’s another reason for considering third person, though. When you’re writing about something personal like your struggle with anxiety, and when you’re describing strong symptoms that might make people thing, “Dang, she’s crazy,” it’s tempting to use third person as a screen so that even though everyone knows it’s about you, there’s a layer of “not you” that keeps them from making that direct association. I felt like if I wrote the piece in first person, I would need to attach some explanations to it, a little, “I’m not really crazy” caveat. I decided not to attach any explanations this time, though. I decided to just let the story speak for itself: This is what it’s like to have anxiety. Maybe another time, I’ll write about the other side, about being normal on the surface.

These questions are all part of the process and part of learning. The way this essay was written, I basically decided there was a subject I needed to write about, and I kept making notes as thoughts came to me over the course of a couple days. Some of the notes sounded right in first person, but in some of them, I started to explain something that I wanted a reader to be able to experience and relate to, so I made “you” the subject. That was OK for a couple more vivid paragraphs in which I try to make the reader feel a particular sensation, but it didn’t work as well in the idea-driven paragraphs (like the one I used in that example). Maybe I could’ve left it switching back and forth, but that felt like a lazy excuse for a Faulkner ripoff.

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