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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Memory - A Boundless Writing Flow

“Memory is funny. Once you hit a vein the problem is not how to remember but how to control the flow.” – Tobias Wolff

Born on this date in 1945, Wolff is a short story writer, memoirist, novelist, and teacher of creative writing especially known for his memoirs This Boy's Life and In Pharaoh's Army.  His short story collection The Barracks Thief won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.  And, Wolff's lifetime body of work was honored in 2015 when he received a National Medal of Arts award.

A Vietnam veteran (Special Forces), he completed several tours of duty there before heading back to school to study creative writing and ultimately beginning his award-winning writing career.  Wolff said he had wanted to be a writer since age 14 but work and then the military always got in the way.  Since then he has used many of his "life" experiences in his writing and is especially noted for using autobiographical elements in his stories.       After earning several degrees, Wolff started teaching creative writing in the late 1980s, first at Syracuse and then at Stanford.  Dozens of successful writers trace their beginnings to classes and mentoring provided by Wolff, who has counseled and taught them in all genres.  That being said, it is writing a short story that remains his favorite.

“Everything," he said, "has to be pulling weight in a short story for it to be really of the first order.”

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