Audrey Beth 
Stein's SHOW AND
TELL

 
 
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.

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