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Going forward, thoughts and other pithy popcorn missives can be found via my Twitter account. Check it out, and I just might follow you too.

J CavanaughSimpson


Covering digital culture & counterculture. Arts & sciences. Author, essayist. Work featured


Calling a wrap for this blog, which has been a fabulous writing outlet. Thanks for reading. — JCS

Memory and Story: An IFN Discussion

Quote of the Day: Authors do not supply imagination, they expect their readers to have their own and use it. 

— Nella Larsen, American novelist of the Harlem Renaissance.

Memoirs and personal essays offer storytelling venues that allow readers into a writer’s unique world—in ways no other genre can provide.

Philip Gerard’s book, Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life, emphasizes the courage required to do so in his chapter titled: “Putting Yourself On the Line.”

“We always write after mystery, looking for an answer we don’t have, trying to resolve what troubles us, to understand what seems beyond comprehension.”

That search for answers can lead us to write about the death of a moth on a windowsill (Virginia Woolf)* or a man’s ethereal suffering during a hunger strike (Wole Soyinka)*. What other advice or thoughts does Gerard offer about the form, in terms of exploring the freedom of your own voice; avoiding the boorishness of the ego; zeroing in on a given memory; or writing about family and friends.

Another author we’ve read, William Zinsser, meanwhile, describes the memoir form in his succinct, direct style: “What gives [memoirs] their power is the narrowness of their focus. . . Think narrow, then, when you try the form. Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life, very much like a photograph.”

See also, snippet from this chapter, noted by Bea: (

What is the essence of memory? How do memories take the form of stories you tell other people?

Feel free to comment or answer these prompts, or add any other thoughts or questions you might have on “Putting Yourself on The Line” or related readings on memoir, plot, etc. (which we’ll delve into later as well. Good to get a handle on plot as we look for stories). Please be sure to note at least your first name when first commenting.

Cheers, JCS

See also: “The Death of The Moth,” by Virginia Woolf via Google  &

Or Wole Soyinka’s “Why I Fast,” in the collection Art of the Personal Essay. Online via Google Books.

(Links too long to paste. 🙂 )

March for Science

Here is a chant already underway for Saturday’s March For Science, a protest in D.C. and nationwide against the anti-science policies of the Trump Administration:

“What do we want???  Evidence-based science!!”

“When do we want it?? After Peer Review!!!!”

Even with the future of humankind and the Earth in the balance, scientists demonstrate their sense of humor too.