“It is dangerous and illegal to walk on the highway.”
—Quote from the Michigan driver’s ed manual 
I grew up in Detroit, Motor City, and so my delight in carless transportation has always seemed a bit perverse. But anybody who is a writer knows the feeling. What we do might not be dangerous or illegal, but it can sometimes look a little crazy from the outside.

Letter to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self

In my first-year memoir class, we cover Bill Roorbach’s excellent craft book, Writing Life Stories, in a year. My favorite chapter is the one about voice. The first exercise is to write a letter to someone,...

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Country Roads, Take Me Home

It was the week Prince died. Music was on our minds, so I gave my class this writing prompt: Write about music you loved or music you hated. Let it take you back in time, in your head and on the page. We did...

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Writing Joy

In every memoir class I teach, we do a writing exercise. I used to find it difficult to write along with my students. I was too busy looking at the clock, planning what to say next. Or maybe I worried they...

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The Retrospective Voice: Why Memoir ...

Yesterday—yet again—a lone man opened fire on a school and killed people just because they were there. My Facebook feed filled with pleas to DO something about this epidemic. I sat at my computer and...

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Stepfatherhood

“Happy Stepfather’s Day!” said no one, ever. That’s an exaggeration—but not by much. I haven’t been the world’s most grateful stepdaughter. Nor has my son been the most emotionally demonstrative...

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Foie Gras, The Vegetable: On Food Tr...

During my junior semester abroad, I worked as a companion for Anne-Marie, a famously reclusive French poet who died a couple years ago. She had a rule I knew well, though she never explained its origin: She...

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