A Lookback at Love, Work, and Loss
I worked at Penguin when Treyf came out and remember that I devoured it in a day when I was supposed to have been working. I remember I emailed your former editor--Treyf was such a standout in the Berkley/NAL list at the time, it was truly not like the books we were publishing. It led me to Poor Man’s Feast, which I had to order on Amazon since the original cover was better to my mind. : ) I can’t believe it’s taken me all this time to find you on Substack! I can’t wait to read On Permission and the journey it takes to bring it to readers.
I’m so sorry your family reacted so negatively to your writing. I hope they find their way back to you one day, even if it’s only through your words.
It’s so painful to read this. I don’t think we can ever predict how people will react to being written about. Even the most innocuous comment can cause offence. And so many people assume you’re referring to them at some obscure point in your text. But none of that is a reason not to write. I’m glad you do :)
What a journey of ups and downs, from family trauma to the trials and tribulations of simply producing that first book. Authoring is such a strange way to make a living, but what drives a memoirist to give away so much of themselves? I love reading memoir, it always seems so generous to me, and such a privilege to recieve.
I am just discovering you, Elissa, and I am awed, moved and encouraged. I write essays under the title Hot Flashes Cold Showers on Substack and they are, of course, personal. My challenge is and has been to dig down to the Truth...my Truth...and make it universal. It's risky and you've given me courage here to pursue Truth. I'm hoping I have the guts to go for it. Thanks for YOUR guts!
I just finished, and so enjoyed, listening to you read Motherland. As the daughter of an extremely self-absorbed mother, I hung onto every word. I am not a writer, but I often feel the need to relieve my burdened mind by writing down the account of my complicated life story. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, and to affirm your choice to share your experience.
I am so looking forward to reading Poor Man’s Feast, and On Permission. Like you, I struggle with the idea of the fallout from truth telling. Something to ponder. Perhaps, at 66 years of age, parents still alive, I’ll go ahead and start recalling my story in writing.
Love every word. Go Elissa!
Wow and thank you.
I'm a sculptor/teaching artist that crossed paths with your blog on wordpress trying to do mine about art and severe special needs kids. You are the only one i pay to support. I LOVE writers and wish I could support soooo many deserving others. thanks for who you are. How you see the world means a lot to me
Bravo, and as a fellow memoirist...I've been there with the fallout. Congratulations on your upcoming book!
I’ve read and heard many answers to the question, “Is it okay to write the truth about my family?” The most widely quoted comes down to “Let it rip; they brought it on themselves.” Your answer seems to me the most convincing because you have grappled with the unforeseen consequences of writing the truth, and shared that story with readers.
This is so good, thank you. I’ve known bits of this story, but not the full arc. You’re a consummate writer and teacher, my friend.
Incredible to read this today, only a week after my husband heard from a brand new 1st cousin through Ancestry.com - this cousin being the daughter of a love child born to his grandfather during WWII. To add another layer, the love child gave up the cousin in a closed adoption, so my husband is the first blood relative she's ever had contact with. My 86 year old mother in law now faces the realization she had/has a half sister and new niece with openness and curiosity, while her other sister , a conservative Southerner, wants nothing to do with this discovery, claiming it "only serves to tarnish our father's reputation". It is the truth! He's been dead for 30 years! How does she throw truth, along with this lovely woman, under the bus for appearances? Suffice it to say, I very much look forward to reading "On Permission".