To write with dispassion, without judgment, or with distance is something many writers struggle with. In this week’s episode, Jeannette Walls, author of the best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle, shares how she was able to detach herself from judgment and tell a true story of her outrageous upbringing. In this intimate interview, Jeannette’s humility and humanity shine through—and we witness the resilient and generous spirit of that little girl in The Glass Castle who grew up to create a life on her own terms.
ABOUT JEANNETTE WALLS
Jeannette Walls is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle, which was on the bestseller list for more than six years and which has sold well over 6 million copies. She is the author of a novel, Half Broke Horses, named one of the ten best books of 2009 by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Before becoming an author, she was a gossip columnist at New York magazine, and she later covered gossip for msnbc.com. She’s a graduate of Barnard college and now lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.
The Takeaway: How to Gauge Your Dispassion
Imagine the house you grew up in. Spend a moment envisioning the home, its rooms, the layout of the house. For some people this is a house or an apartment. It might be a car or a shelter. Recall a tough scene—a fight with a parent or a sibling, something that might have happened to you in one of these rooms. Once you’ve landed on the right memory, jot down what you feel. What are the emotions that are evoked from the memories that have negative associations. What are you harboring? This is not about trying to make you feel badly for being pissed off at someone. That part is fine. It’s simply about trying to see, however many years later, what kinds of emotions you have access to. Are you angry, rageful? Are you despairing, sad? Are you torn? Is what you remember emotionally raw, or do you have a lot of distance between your current self and that memory? Write down an insight or two—and end the exercise to come back to later if you’re so moved.
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