Fears and tears? Write through them

By · Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

not teaching,
still THINKING …

This memoir represents years of tedious writing and emotional perseverance. (Emilie Davis)

Memories. That’s what “the Goodbye Diaries” is about — a mother-daughter memoir published almost 20 years after the death of mother Sally Bardach. Writing began during her illness in partnership with daughter Marisa Bardach Ramel, who just published the book these many years later.

Marisa invited us to attend her book-signing event last week at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she graduated in 2004. She had been a student in Steve Davis’ class.

For more than an hour, Marisa casually — yet passionately — described her journey as a high-school teen learning of her mother’s pancreatic cancer, rejecting her mother at times, loving her, writing with her, learning from her and missing her. Marisa also interacted with the dozens of students in the audience, sharing her writing tips and advice — especially for those interested in writing a memoir someday.

These are our four takeaways from Marisa’s conversation:

  1. Write something. Don’t wait for the perfect thought to be perfectly structured before writing. Just write. You can — and will — perfect your story later. This will happen sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph and chapter by chapter. Writing is a process.
  2. Listen to others. Seek advice from fellow writers and editors, from trusted friends who know you well, from professionals you connect with through networking. Then adjust that advice to your personal circumstance. Don’t be quick to change your thinking. You must be comfortable with suggested changes to your writing and to how you are telling your story.
  3. Be brave. It is not comfortable at times to look at yourself and to write about yourself. You must be willing to let others see you as you were and as you are — everything. Your story will be true only if you are truthful.
  4. Don’t rush it. The passage of time can be a good thing. Sometimes you need space between the events in your life and your writing about them. Take that time, even if it means not writing at all. You will write again, and your story might benefit from your perspective later in life than in real time.

Listening to Marisa brought back many memories of writing and editing classes at the Newhouse School — and of the many students in those classes. We learned a lot from Marisa. You can learn more from her, too, by connecting with her on her the Goodbye Diaries website.

Marisa Bardach Ramel and professor emeritus Steve Davis reunited. (Emilie Davis)

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

Comments are closed.