Writing My Way
A Personal Statement
Copyright 1998 Audrey Beth Stein
All Rights Reserved.
Your mere "hello" could become a ten-page story, your worst
insecurities could put me on the bestseller list, your lifetime
achievement could be a line of mediocre prose--
How do we live both as writers and as members of larger
communities? How do I weigh the values of good literature against the
values of activism against the values of privacy and respect and sanity
and comfort? How do you decide whether telling a particular story is
worth hurting a person who matters to you? Where do we make our
compromises, and where do we stand firm?
These are the kinds of questions I've been asking lately as I
strive for quality, truth, and balance.
In the last seven years I've tried writing full-time with no job,
writing around a nine-to-five job, writing while taking five classes.
I've set and met quotas, gone months without picking up a pen, written
every day. I've experimented with characters and themes and styles. I've
learned to decide when a story is ready for publication--and send it
out--and when a half-finished novel is destined for a long nap. I've
taken numerous workshops and recently founded one of my own. The more I
explore, and the more I seem to find my voice and my rhythm, the more I
realize how much I have yet to learn. There is so much I want to know
about craft, about literature, about my place in a larger tradition, about
how other writers live and breathe and make the tough decisions.
My specific plan for my time at Emerson is to study the novel and
the memoir and write one of each. I've attempted book-length works before
and each time hit obstacles. I don't know enough about the genres. How
do you decide whether something belongs in a novel or a short story? How
real is a memoir? How made-up is fiction? How do you pace a book? What
makes something "young adult?" I look forward to Emerson's unique
collection of contemporary literature classes and workshops focused on
memoir, the first novel, and the adolescent novel.
Honestly I'm not sure what I'll do when I graduate, but I'm not
very worried about it. I currently have a university administrative job,
and while I'd ultimately like to do something more
challenging--publishing, teaching, educational multimedia design--I enjoy
the environment and have found that a semi-mindless job that keeps me
self-sufficient leaves me with welcome time and energy to write. Boston
is my home, and with its diversity of opportunity, I look forward to
discovering whatever the future holds.