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Reading, Writing, and Remembering, by Laura Gaddis

This post is part of 805's “My Home Library” series that features writers and artists enjoying their home libraries. Read Laura's essay"Things They Don’t Teach You" in our weekly content.


The pandemic hit in the middle of my second semester of my MFA program at Miami University of Ohio. I had just begun working in earnest on my thesis, a book length manuscript of creative nonfiction. Mosaic was to be a collection of essays that worked together to tell my story of child loss, mental health struggles, familial relationships, and my exploration of spirituality. At this point in my academic career, I had begun putting together a list of books to help me research this genre and these topics. But being at home for the remainder of my graduate work didn’t mean I had more time to myself (as many of us learned quite quickly, when the whole family is home trying to live their lives, life itself became a mess). My daughter sat at the kitchen counter every morning for her remote Kindergarten and my husband taught his math courses from our basement. Meanwhile, I continued to read for my seminars, teach undergraduate composition courses, grade mounds of papers, write my thesis, and, in those small moments of silence in between, read the books in my stack.


The books were an eclectic mix of memoirs, fiction, and craft discussions of creative nonfiction. I began with the book Lifespan of a Fact by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. It reads as a discussion between the writer (D’Agata) and the editor (Fingal) as they discuss the facts (or bending of them), in one of D’Agata’s essays. Witty, informational, and a fun format to follow page-to-page, I had started my book pile off right. It gave me a lot to consider when doing my own writing.


Even as I sit here and write from memory, I think about how much of what I’m reporting about my experience of the early days of the Covid pandemic is accurate, and how much is accurate according to my memory.


Perhaps for all of us, we’ll institute the “fading affect bias” a term borrowed from psychology: we remember the good from this time and let the bad slip away.


Perhaps, though, instead of seeing this as a fault in memory, we should see it as a triumph of the human mind. I mean, who would want to remember all the bad from the past two years? I would prefer to think about the stack of books I fell into. I think D’Agata would agree.


 

Laura Gaddis holds an MFA from Miami University (in Ohio). She has published literary nonfiction and poetry in Thin Air Magazine, The Avalon Literary Review, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Ligeia Magazine, Pif Magazine, Vita Brevis Press, Kitchen Sink Magazine, The Dillydoun Review, Scary Mommy, Tiny Buddha, and The Mighty. She has forthcoming essays Stonecoast Review and Evening Street Review. Laura teaches writing at Miami University and has facilitated community writing workshops and writing groups. She resides in Oxford, OH with her husband, daughter, and pug Rocky.

 

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