Your hosts and grief-writing friends Meli and Rachel talk about the question of self-pity and its place in memoir writing or writing that is meant to be read.
As always, we suggest listening on your own terms, with safety and care.
We dig into topics in our own memoirs in progress and as a result, we would like to issue some content warnings for this episode because we deal with pregnancy, child loss, childhood trauma, mental illness, lightly touch on suicide.
A single f-bomb is dropped toward the end (so you might want to cover those sensitive ears around you).
At the end of the episode, Meli has a writing prompt for you.
Links & Resources from this Episode of Writing Grief
- The title and themes from this episode come from Joan Didion’s memoir on grief, The Year of Magical Thinking (Knopf, 2005)
- Rachel slightly misquotes Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “My own heart let me more have pity on”
- Rachel descibes the fictional character Eeyore from the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne as an example of a self-pitying character archetype.
- Rachel quoted the authors Regina Brooks & Brenda Lane Richardson from this article about the two deadly sins of writing; the first “sin” is self pity.
- Rachel has a lot of quotes in this episode, another one is from Alysia Abbott, author of Fairyland: A Memoir Of My Father (WW Norton, 2014)
- The Alysia Abbot quote is found in the book Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma by Melanie Brooks (Beacon Press, 2017)
- Rachel has yet another quote, one from Debra Gwartney who wrote, Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love (Mariner Books, 2010)
- Rachel and Meli discuss Betsy Warland’s “Coma Story” from Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing (Cormorant Books, 2010)
- Rachel and Meli credit the Untitled Dad Project Podcast by creator Janielle Kastner and director Carson McCain (Spoke Media) for inspiring their pod.
- In each episode, we recommend Settler non-Indigenous writers do research about the lands they write from. (Start at native-land.ca.)
The transcript for this episode is available upon request from firstname.lastname@example.org.