Dona Munker: Writing a Biography

      ~ Writing a Biography ~
      About Writing Biography and Imagining a Life


November 7, 2015

Tags: Deirdre Bair, Living subjects, Women Writing Women's Lives (discussion group)

    At the 25th anniversary conference of the Women Writing Women's Lives Seminar, keynote speaker Deirdre Bair offered an object lesson in some of the difficulties of dealing with a living subject.

      When Bair began working on her groundbreaking biography of Simone de Beauvoir in the 1980s, her plan was to tell the story of the feminist icon "warts and all." (more…)

The Perils of Writing about a Living Subject. Especially a Big Subject.

October 25, 2011

Tags: Living subjects

Steve Jobs and Walter Isaacson (Credit: Getty Images)
        For two weeks I've been trying desperately to find time to pull together two articles I've sworn to post: the follow-up post I promised on organizing research (no, haven't forgotten) and a version of a lecture I gave on 10/17/2011 about using detective work to reconstruct crucial events and scenes.

        Till then, if you need an excuse to avoid writing for an hour or so, you can listen to the original here, including a Q&A session that raised some of those tough questions I think are the best way to get valuable feedback and hone one's writing skills. (Hot tip: Never ask your mother to read the first draft. Whatever she says, it's not going to be what you need to hear.)

        If you need a different or shorter excuse, (more…)

        The disciple of a famous sculptor came upon his master carving an elephant from a huge, shapeless chunk of stone. "Master," cried the disciple, "What splendor! What realism! What insight! How do you do it?" "Simple," replied the sculptor. "You just cut away everything that isn't elephant."

        Stalking the Elephant is a blog about creating an elephant from a chunk of stone, a.k.a. writing a biography.

        It's also about the biographer's writing life (well, mine, anyway) and a work in progress, SARA AND ERSKINE, AN AMERICAN ROMANCE. This is an intimate reconstruction of the life of SARA BARD FIELD, a World War One-era minister's wife, suffragist, and poet, and her extraordinary affair with an outspoken attorney, philosophical anarchist, and Renaissance man CHARLES ERSKINE SCOTT WOOD.

    Subscribing is easy.

        This couple takes up a lot of time (not to mention a lot of oxygen), and since I don't have a regular posting schedule, the best way to receive updates is to sign up to be notified when I post something new.

         Here's how: On the blog page, click on the RSS button of your browser. (In Firefox: Go to the Bookmarks menu and select "Subscribe to This Page.") You can then check to see if there's been an update in the RSS feed of your browser's toolbar.

    Visit the RESOURCES page and take advantage of a growing list of links, blogs, and books for anyone interested in biography and writing lives.

      Sidebar Photo Credit: Elephant Country Web

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