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Few books have influenced my writing journey more than Jessica Handler’s Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss. Reading it in graduate school ignited a shift away from academic writing (and academia in general) and toward creative nonfiction, particularly that which addressed topics of personal significance and struggle.
Braving the Fire continues to be the single most recommended book I suggest to clients when working with them as a writing coach. I’ve probably recommended it at some point to 90% of my clients and regularly suggest it to writers whose subject matter does not explicitly involve personal grief and loss, since even the driest academic writing incorporates so much of ourselves and our vulnerabilities that grief (if only over our own inadequacies as writers) frequently comes into play regardless.
In my epic (or freakish, to use my husband’s words) #220for2020 reading quest, I’ve circled back to this beloved book. This time around, I’ve become newly aware of just how well Handler melds the deep threads of grief work with some of the best practical writing advice out there. That is not an easy chasm to bridge! I’m happy to say that my conviction this book is for virtually any writer of any genre has only been strengthened, folks!
This time around, my favorite quotes from Braving the Fire have been:
What are the simple truths you are returning to during this difficult historical moment? I’d love to hear about it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!