The digital revolution was upending the publishing world, and I worried how authors, especially biographers like myself, would work in the future without the existence of handwritten letters, diaries, and other words on paper. Nevertheless, I pulled from the back of a file cabinet my abandoned book proposal can i write my own story in an essay writers Neith Boyce and Hutchins Hapgood.
As I read it again, my excitement returned about writing a literary biography; I still relished the intellectual adventure of investigating primary materials. I had been able to learn relatively little about Neith in the s, before the days of personal computers and internet searches, when it would have taken years—long after a book contract was signed—to discover the details of her life.
Two decades later, after digitized books and databases revolutionized research, I was able to read in a matter of months almost everything that had ever been published about the couple.
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Two books cah excerpts of their work edited by feminist scholars had also been published. I also learned that while he had a number of affairs, when she did, too, he became tormented by the fear that they meant more to her than his flings did to wrrite.
When she fell in love, can i write my own story in an essay reluctantly gave up her lover for the sake of the children, she suffered a nervous breakdown from which she never fully recovered. After her last two books were published in —the won Proud Lady and Harry: A Portraita nonfiction account about her eldest son who died in the pandemic—she wrote and published very little. It was the same conflict between career and children I had wrestled with, and which many young writers still valiantly struggle with today.
What is a narrative essay for?
I vacillated for a while, unwilling to undertake a pathography or give up the biography again. When I talked about my dilemma with a friend, he remarked that at our ages we should not do anything without passion.
Not just interest or pleasure, he emphasized, but passion. As my seventieth birthday approached, I found myself asking how many more writing years I had left, and I im startled to realize there were only twelve until I turned eighty.
How to best spend these precious years? Biology, and mortality, too, suddenly appeared as different kinds of deadlines. By the time I finished writing another biography, I recognized that I would probably be her age, and there was something else I wanted to ky.
Would there be enough time to write another biography and then a memoir? Spend my days researching in an archive in New Haven or working at home near my garden?
When writing my biographies of strong women while enduring the opposition of men I had married, I had kept working, in retrospect readying myself for telling my own story. I had begun, but was I ready to do more?]