Go Ahead, Fall Apart

A writing tip from Jill Talbot

We all have “what happened” stories. The trick is to write beyond that. Fitzgerald wrote, “We have two or three great and moving experiences in our lives . . . We tell our two or three stories—each time in a new disguise—maybe ten times, maybe a hundred, as long as people will listen.” Don’t worry if you keep writing the same story. It’s okay if you’re not done. And no, not everyone is going to listen, not everyone will “get” your work. Write to those who will.

We're all writing to somebody, someone we want to know who we are. When I write, I picture a woman—always a woman, sitting on the end of a couch, near a window. She's reading my words. I write to her so that she'll come across the line she needs to read. I ask, What have I known that will make a difference to her?

When I write, I get to fall the fuck apart. I don’t get to do that in my life, but on the page, I do. And if I don’t, if I’m not as honest and daring and raw as possible, if I don’t take risks, I’m not doing what I need to do. So go ahead, fall the fuck apart.

Ask yourself why you write. Your answer is your writing’s compass.


Jill Talbot is the author of a memoir, Loaded, as well as the co-editor of The Art of Friction: Where (Non) Fictions Come Together and editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction. Her work has been published or is forthcoming from Brevity, DIAGRAM, The Paris Review Daily, The Pinch, and The Rumpus. She is currently the Elma Stuckey Writer-in-Residence in Creative Nonfiction at Columbia College Chicago.

Jill Talbot is no stranger to addiction. Part autobiography, part exposé, Loaded: Women and Addiction weaves Talbot's own battles with addiction with various addiction stories of other women. The result is a captivating, honest look at the allure of addiction—be it to sex, drugs, alcohol, food, adventure, or infidelity—and ultimately its betrayal.

Click on the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

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