Buried Treasure

Buried Treasure

Writing, like living, requires these three attributes: the courage to throw down mud onto the page, the honesty to recognize it as mud, and the humility to revise and rework it.

Not a Stranger

Not a Stranger

When I was fourteen I spent a year being depressed. It turned out to be a precious gift.

Peripheral Vision

Peripheral Vision

My issue with “goal-setting”: looking directly at something is not necessarily the best way to see it.

Remember Where You Came From

Remember Where You Came From

There is a Greek myth about a man named Antaeus who taught us this: as long as you stay connected to where you came from, you cannot be conquered.

Storyteller

Storyteller

My mom was a storyteller. Of all the stories she told me, one of my favorites was her riff about the irate parent and the French class. It goes like this.

Make It Rain

Make It Rain

When I was 16, a group of friends and I decided to start our own high school. Obviously, a group of kids with their heads in the clouds.

Death of a Habit

Death of a Habit

I smoked for twenty-eight years. Since I was a solid pack-a-day guy for more or less that entire time, this translates into ten thousand, two hundred twenty-seven packs (including leap years). One day, I decided to quit.

Pindar in the Classroom

Pindar in the Classroom

Students in classrooms around the globe, absorbing the lessons of Pindar’s Paradox: The more you give, the more you have. I can’t think of anything more gratifying.

The Gorgeous Moment

The Gorgeous Moment

That first step, the part of writing a story where there are no sentences and paragraphs yet, the part where there is only the empty blankness of the page, that is by far the hardest part. It’s also my favorite part.

Angels of Our Better Nature

Angels of Our Better Nature

In the photo above, taken circa 1952, you see that boy in the middle? The one who looks so happy and carefree? He isn’t. He’s terrified. How do I know this? Because I’ve spent the last year working with him on his story. People have asked me, what’s it like to write someone’s memoir? My answer: It’s somewhere between being a medium, an actor, and a ventriloquist. Last month I was asked that same question while being interviewed for an article about memoirs (and the people who write them) for New York magazine. Here’s how my answer came out: “I think it might be something like what it’s like to be an actor, playing someone’s life story on the screen. … You’ve got to find a place inside yourself that really connects with that person. If you’re going to do a good job at this, you have to get into this person and look at the world through their eyes.” Looking at the world through that little 7-year-old boy’s eyes has been quite an experience. This is perhaps the most intimate, controversial, and courageous memoir I’ve ever been a part of. It chronicles the life, multiple-times near-death, and ultimate redemption of one Bob Beckel, who survived a painful childhood of alcoholic neglect and abuse only to struggle through most of his adulthood with the demons of addiction and self-destruction. It just came out today. It is, as one commentator on CNN put it, “A hell of a book.” Its title: I Should Be Dead. When you read about his life, you’ll understand why. Beckel is a veteran of American...
Page 1 of 1912345...10...Last »