I’m continuing as a member in one of those critique group because it has been for me an indispensable part of my development as a writer. There’s a novella that I can’t seem to stop thinking about, but don’t know that I’ll actually write it.
Often, I’m asked why I waited so long to publish my first book. I don’t think of it that way, although it’s true that the book was published last year, when I was seventy-seven. I wrote the book when it was time for me to write it, when it felt like a natural and proper thing to do. It had been a long path, but I finally had become the writer I had wanted to be, and this is the “work” that’s the most enjoyable I’ve ever done. What older writers contribute isn’t necessarily better than the contributions of younger writers, it’s just different. In my own case, which is all I can address with any certainty, My Father’s Shadow was less angry, more nuanced, insightful, and tolerant of other people’s behavior and motivations than it would have been had I written it earlier in my life.
When I write the kind of narrative nonfiction that appears in my book, I think of each piece as a story. I find it difficult to label the as essays, though I understand that most people are inclined to use that term. Much of the feedback I’ve received about My Father’s Shadow and other pieces I’ve published and read to audiences is that they read a lot like stories. I’m always pleased to hear this because that was my intention all along. I know I’m not alone in this, but when I write I imagine I’m telling a story, just as I have done when reading my writing to live audiences. I don’t think you have to write fiction in order to tell a story. So, I refer to what I’ve written, at least to date, as narrative or creative nonfiction stories, rather than traditional essays. For me, this is something that just feels right. It’s comfortable.
After the publication of My Father’s Shadow, I’ve been devoting most of my writing time to what I imagine will be a new collection of narrative nonfiction. I’m writing some new pieces, revising some of the stories that weren’t included in the book, and trusting that I’ll see where all of this leads. Dedicated participation in a Red Oak Writing critique group was especially helpful in sorting out what to include in my memoir, and how to organize the stories.
More recently, Myles was privileged to be interviewed by Constance Malloy, a fellow writer and a good friend. Please click HERE for the full interview and to explore her expanded website.
The author preparing for the collaborative Boswell Book Company, TEN16 Press, and Red Oak Writing launch of My Father’s Shadow.
Click HERE for video of the event, including brief readings from the book.