Amy Friedman is a writer, editor, ghostwriter and writing teacher. She has published three memoirs, three books for children and thousands of essays and stories. She has been writing an internationally syndicated weekly newspaper feature, Tell Me a Story, since 199, and she teaches memoir and personal essay in southern California. Many of her stories and essays have appeared in book collections, including an excerpt of Desperado’s Wife in Stricken: 5,000 Stages of Grief and another excerpt in the New York Times Modern Love. Amy co-authored Anne Willan’s memoir, One Souffle at a Time, that will be released in September 2013.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve been a writer since I was 13 years old–first inspired to write a story for my grandmother who no longer spoke. I believe I was trying to hear her voice, and since that time I’ve often sought to give voice to those whose stories we seldom hear.
Tell us about your writing process
I write every day, and in first draft I do not outline (and I write long-hand). Rather, I seek to let stories and books tell me where they wish to go, what they wish to be. I’ll sometimes begin with an ending that serves, in a sense, as a magnet, pulling me forward–though as often as not that ending recedes as I come closer, and I am forced to write a new ending, and to keep going. Desperado’s Wife, for instance, began as a memoir, then became, for three years, a novel, and when I was finished, I realized this story begged to be told as memoir. It was the toughest book I’ve written and took me nearly a decade to complete.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Even nonfiction writers listen to their characters, and I do.
What advice would you give other writers?
To write, and write, and write, to be fearless about rewriting, to learn to give up your darlings, to remember that your feelings as you write will only lead you astray. Most of us have those voices in our heads (demons, I call them), telling us things about our work–that it’s not good enough, or it’s the best thing ever written, or it’s foolish, or it’s brilliant and so on and on. We need to learn not to listen to those voices that try to lead us astray. To trust that the story, if you’re paying close attention, will find its way out of your head and onto the page.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was invited to appear on a national television show to talk about the book (that had, over the years, been excerpted in the New York Times, Salon.com and in the book Stricken: 5,000 Stages of Grief), and when several editors who still had the book told me it would be another couple months before they could make a decision about accepting or rejecting the mss, I decided to take the bull by the horns. I did not want to risk losing the opportunity to have a book while on national TV.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’ve been publishing for over 20 years, but when I finished Desperado’s Wife I was offered an opportunity to appear with the book on national television–this before I had a publisher. I decided to go ahead and self-publish rather than give up an opportunity to introduce my book to a wide audience.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Memoir, children’s, fiction
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print