My excellent MFA program, Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA), closed a year and a half ago, and it was a sad event for all of us who had loved the program. Nevertheless, this has been a fruitful year for NILA grads. Last September Iris Graville’s memoir was published; February saw the publication of Janet Buttenwieser’s memoir; on March 15 Joe Ponepinto’s novel will come out; and my own novel will go public in May. I know what hard work it is to write a book, revise it numerous times, find a publisher, make more revisions, and then offer the book to the world. With my novel, the process has taken years. In the case of Janet’s and Iris’s memoirs, I guess you’d say the process took decades, if you include the long time those women spent living their stories. To Now that we’re at this point with our work, there is an amazing sense of crossing a finish line. And if you’re guessing that this marathon has also produced exhaustion, well, I won’t disagree.
I’ll be buying Joe’s book, Mr. Neutron, this week, and I look forward to reading it. As for the two memoirs, I recently read both and loved them. Iris’s story, Hiking Naked, tells about the two years she and her family lived in a remote, tiny town in the North Cascades, seeking the perspective that comes with a simplified life. Janet’s book, Guts, is a story of her own battle with a debilitating intestinal illness, which she eventually overcame, and her best friend’s lost battle with cancer. Iris’s book is gentler and Janet’s more raw, but both memoirs are reflective and insightful, and the stories linger with the reader.
Congratulations to Iris, Janet and Joe, in these wonderful steps forward!