My new book, A Living Remedy, is available now! You can read an excerpt here in The Atlantic, check out the New York Times book review, or listen to my interview on NPR’s Morning Edition. Of course, I’d also love it if you wanted to order a copy. Whether you ever read my book or not, though, thank you all for being part of its journey. A Living Remedy might never have been completed—and certainly wouldn’t be the book it is—if not for the time I spent writing with and for you every week, sharing my process with you and thinking about storytelling and craft. That year of constant writing required and also freed me to work in ways I never had before, and I’m genuinely, deeply grateful for how it fed my practice, and for all of you who read and wrote along with me.

One thing I’ve been thinking about, as I meet and talk with readers about this book, is the line between private and public experience, and how many people assume that line doesn’t exist for you if you write memoir. But I find that boundary to be essential in all my work, especially in writing and sharing stories from my own life. At a recent event at the DC Public Library, I mentioned to my friend and fellow memoirist Kat Chow that publishing a personal story means losing control over what that personal experience means to others—or at least, losing control over what the art you made about it means to others. But you never lose your private, personal connection to the most important things that have ever happened to you, your ownership of those experiences. The events in A Living Remedy, the people I write about, the losses I lived through, belong to me and always will. Whatever people say about my book, whatever they take from it, whatever it means to them, I know what it is and why it matters to me—and that is a particularly important thing for me to remember and hold on to now, amid all the excitement of publication week.

I’ve heard from many readers of this newsletter who want to write stories based on their own memories, but are afraid of what it could mean to share those with the world. I think that’s a very good and important thing to consider (and you have to consider it before you publish, not after!). I used to feel much more anxious about how others might try to define things that happened to me, say what my story must represent. It helps when I remember that these experiences are still mine, and nothing can change that. I lived through them, and now I live with them. I always get to decide what they mean to me.

When I realized that it’s not my job to dictate how a reader should experience my work, or say what they must take away from it, it was actually comforting, in a way. I cannot imagine the pressure or constant frustration I’d feel were I constantly trying to control those things. I wrote a book that I hope will keep readers company in some good or needful way. I want it to make you think about your lives, your losses, your loved ones, and perhaps help some of you feel a little less alone. But what you glean from my story, what it means to you, is ultimately for you to decide.

Several of you have asked me what I’m working on now that my book is out in the world. The truth is that I haven’t been writing much lately, beyond the freelance assignments I’ve taken on. I’m not sure whether it’s accurate to call this a “slump”—I know that I want to write, to think about future projects; I just haven’t had much time to focus on it between book promotion and travel. It’s enormous fun to get out there and tour, read from and talk about the new book, and hear from so many thoughtful readers. But when this hectic period is over, I’ll be eager to reclaim my writing time—I honestly feel a bit lost without it. The writing, I often remind myself, is the best part. We’ll keep at it together.


My plan is to continue sending monthly newsletters this year, so watch this space for more from me in May! If you have any writing questions you’d like me to answer, please send them along to