Musical Chairs: From Journal Entry to Publication
I’m honored to be here, sharing my story as a writer and as a woman who’s learned to give voice to her past. Here’s a little about me: I am a quiet girl with a lively past. I grew up in Ohio, and I live in Texas with my incredibly handsome husband and my “kids” (a Blue Heeler named Buddy & a cat named Cheese). Currently, I teach English at San Antonio College, and as Fiction Editor for Our Stories Literary Journal. Writing is a sort of spirituality to me. I’ve had numerous short work published, but Musical Chairs is my first published book.
So, how did it all begin? Well, my memoir began to come together long before I knew I wanted to write. It began with journals, some of which resurfaced as I was returning to
school to get my GED. In a therapeutic sense (far from literary), I began to reflect, reading and writing feverishly about my past—years I would've preferred to forget, years I felt compelled to revisit. Many years later, after obtaining a degree and writing constantly, fiction and essays, my past continued to come up in my work; consequently, my book began to take shape. I decided my story needed to be told and finally, I was ready to tell it.
Notes on the Process of Writing a Memoir:
It took five years of rewriting, cutting and adding scenes, and revision; and it took a lot of well-deserved rejection. Writers who
reevaluate their work, rather than just keep submitting until it’s accepted are the ones who grow.
Writing my story was a largely cathartic and difficult experience, but it was also gratifying. I think that the actually publishing process was a far more traumatic experience for me. I remember signing with ATTM Press, feeling elated. Then, a few hours later, wanting to call and cancel. Even though I had been pursing publication for a few months, I was unprepared for the reality of acceptance. Was I really ready to share? This is a story about running away from home, about abandoning family and being unable to keep friends. It is a story that recalls my experience as a stripper—a profession that many people believe is demeaning. I began to worry nonstop about backlash; however, the support from readers has been wonderful. Many people have contacted me and said their daughters’ or their own lives have run parallel paths, and they thank me for writing my story. There have also been many people who have written me expressing pity or their personal diagnoses (none of whom, I must note, were psychologists or psychiatrists). But, this variety of responses—the personal responses that memoir invites—has proven that I now have a voice, which is the very thing I so craved during the times I write about. For that, I am grateful that I told my story. Every woman has an important story to tell; we just have different ways of telling them.
About Jen’s Writing:
Jen Knox is the author of Musical Chairs, a memoir (ATTM Press). She is a graduate of Bennington's Writing Seminars and works as an English Professor at San Antonio College and a Fiction Editor at Our Stories Literary Journal. Her work has been published in Flashquake, The Houston Literary Journal, Short Story American, Slow Trains, SLAB, and Superstition Review. She has earned awards from Glimmer Train's Best Start Competition and The ECC Literary Competition. Jen grew up in Ohio, and lives in Texas, where she is working on a novel entitled Absurd Hunger.
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More information about today's guest can be found on her website, Jen Knox, and you can follow Jen on Twitter, @Jenknox2 . Thank you Jen for being a guest on my Writer Wednesday series and thanks to all who stopped by to enjoy today's post.
Kristin : )
If you would like more info about this series please follow this link: Writer Wednesdays: The Intro