Podcast

Memoir in Miniature: 5 Questions for M.M. Adjarian

“Good writing doesn’t happen overnight.” -M.M. Adjarian

M. M. (Maude) Adjarian has published her essays, short fiction and poetry in such journals as the Baltimore ReviewGrub StreetVerdadSouth 85, The Serving House JournalPifGravelGlint and Crack the Spine, among others. A senior non-fiction book reviewer at Kirkus, her articles have also appeared in Arts+Culture TexasBitch MagazineTribeza-Austin and the Dallas Voice. Currently, she is at work on a family memoir provisionally titled This Life That Binds.

On Saturday, February 26th, 2022, M.M. Adjarian is teaching an online class for the WLT called “Memoir in Miniature: The Art of the Personal Essay.” In this class, you’ll learn the art of the personal essay through an in-depth, guided discussion of models by contemporary writers and exercises.

Here’s what M.M. had to say about her writing life and her upcoming class:

M. M. Adjarian headshot

Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?

M.M. Adjarian: I’m primarily a non-fiction writer, with specialties in personal essay and memoir. I came to writing though first as an academically-trained twentieth century literature specialist then later through the freelance work I did for newspapers and magazines.

Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?

MA: Being stubborn helps. You really have to want to write to put up with all the disappointments that will invariably come your way. No matter what the challenge is—and especially if it’s rejection or just not being understood—you have to put your foot down and say, I’m doing this. No matter what. Because on the other side of it, when you do experience success, there is no more gratifying feeling in the world. 

Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long did that feeling last?

MA: When I first started working on my now-completed family memoir in 2018, I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew that after more than ten years of thinking about the book and another five of publishing personal essays I couldn’t piece together into a narrative with a defined arc, I had to do something

By summer 2020, I finally had a draft and was about to start querying when my critique partner, a savvy screenplay and fiction writer, shredded the manuscript. I was devastated; but once the feeling passed, I realized his observations had been dead on the mark. So I halted the agent search and took my partner’s advice to research the mistakes I’d been making in detail and dialogue presentation. It was painful and humbling but so necessary! I returned to the MS that fall, much more certain of my skills and far more pleased with what I was actually writing.

Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?

MA: Good writing doesn’t happen overnight. Stories evolve and mature in their own good time, as does a writer’s skills. Those who embrace challenge rather than let it hobble them are the ones most likely to reap the greatest satisfaction.

Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?

MA: Life experience offers the most compelling material there is for writers willing to surrender their guard and master the art of personal-truth telling. 

Thanks, M.M.!

Click here to learn more about M.M. Adjarian’s upcoming class.

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