For years I wrote poetry here and there, publishing one or two in journals and anthologies. My main focus was academic writing, so I spent much of my time in research.
In 1995, I was asked to edit a collection of essays by women in the personal voice, called “feminist literary criticism.” The resulting book, Private Voices, Public Lives: Women Speak on the Literary Life (UNT Press, 1996) was such a freeing experience for me and, I believe, for the women who submitted essays. We were free to talk about the personal impact of literature on our lives, yet the writing also incorporated research and criticism about the literature.
That experience was a turning point for my writing. Since that time, my focus has been on memoir writing.
Why do I write and teach memoir? Because I believe that everyone, without exception, has a story to tell. We may not all be able to write and publish our stories, but the important issue is that we communicate them in some form or another—oral or written, poetry or prose. The impulse of storytelling comes from our earliest primordial roots—pictures on cave walls, stories sung by traveling tellers. I have found, too, that the telling of my own stories allows me to understand both myself and what happened in my life.
The “how” is a bit more challenging, in that I also teach College Composition which includes little, if any, creative nonfiction. That means that I must carve out time when I feel and see a project or a journey (searching for information about my mysterious grandmother for my recently published memoir). Once I start, I am driven by the project and am easily able to return to it around my other responsibilities. Unlike many writers, I do not have a set writing time each day. I work with life’s necessities and the Muse.
Nancy Owen Nelson was both enriched and burdened as an army daughter in a family always on the move. As an academic, she’s edited or co-edited three academic books, published in journals and anthologies, and taught college composition since earning her PhD from Auburn University in Alabama. She found her “heart home,” however, in the power of story. Writing her memoir, Searching for Nannie B., helped her to understand a part of herself that she didn’t understand. In teaching memoir, she relishes other’s stories. Nancy lives and teaches in Michigan.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of In the Context of Love, adult contemporary fiction about one woman’s needs to tell her story without shame.
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
2015 Great Midwest Book Fest Honorable Mention.
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey. Should be required reading for all wayward teenage girls, and their mothers, too.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters