After finishing her manuscript for Motherland, author Elissa Altman posted a hard truth about the writer’s life on Instagram: doing this work can take a physical toll on your body. Our conversation explores this important topic, including how she’s putting her body back together again after finding it left in shards from the emotional writing process.
ELISSA ALTMAN is the critically acclaimed author of Poor Man's Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking and the James Beard Award-winning blog of the same name and Treyf: My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The New York Times, Tin House, The Rumpus, Dame Magazine, LitHub, Saveur, and The Washington Post, where her column, Feeding My Mother, ran for a year. She has been anthologized in Best Food Writing six times. A finalist for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize, Altman has taught the craft of memoir at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The Loft Literary Center, 1440 Multiversity, Ireland's Literature and Larder Program, and has appeared live on stage at TEDx and The Public, on Heritage Radio, and NPR. She lives in Connecticut with her family.
On knowing which story is ripe:
On the value of self-care:
Elissa’s technique for using journal entries to create scenes
How a 10-year stint in the publishing industry ignited her creative spirit
The Instagram post that launched a conversation about the physical toll of book writing
Why writing is romanticized, but hardly romantic
The concept of negative space and silences in our writing
A self-care plan to prep for book publication
How writing is like an obstacle course
Who owns the right to tell a story?
Memoirist Kathryn Harrison’s book The Kiss
Humorist and writer David Rakoff
The Instagram post that launched a conversation about writing and self-care
Elissa’s TED talk about how senior citizens are absent from the American food conversation
Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown