A friend of mine, who also happens to be a journalism professor at Western Washington University, Carolyn Nielsen, loaned me an anthology that contains an essay by one of my neighbors, who also happens to be a writer, Colleen Haggerty. The anthology of personal essays, The Spirit of a Woman: Stories to Empower and Inspire, includes stories of survival and strength by women from wide-ranging backgrounds.
Colleen’s essay recounts how she lost her leg in an auto accident at the age of 17 and how she came to forgive, some 15 years later, the man who did it. Her story was very well written and vivid without being gruesome.
I met Colleen some years ago but we haven’t talked in a long time. She probably doesn’t even remember me. Our town is small though, and I see her occasionally at our neighborhood school. Reading her story about her most intimate feelings around such a difficult subject has made me want to reconnect with her, to tell her everything I liked about her essay.
To me, the feeling that I’m getting to know the writer behind the story is part of the appeal of reading memoir and personal essay, and maybe even reality TV.
I’m going to make the effort to reintroduce myself to Colleen when I get the chance again soon. One of my own essays will appear in an anthology in October 2011, Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories. I’m eager to pick her brain about the process. I will be writing about my learning process as an author in an anthology here on this blog as we go along so check back often. I’m excited for the opportunity to learn more about its marketing and promotion, an area I’m just delving into.
Have you ever been in an anthology? What wisdom can you share?
Have a safe and wonderful New Year’s holiday.