Joan Didion Archive

Writing Trauma: Notes of Transcendence, #2–The Book as Companion

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Examining painful truths, I left behind the stories. I developed an aversion to reading. When I picked up a book, it was as if my brain closed a door. How could I, a writer and an English professor, no longer have a desire to read?

All Rise for the Story: Writing Lessons at Jury Duty

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We tell ourselves stories in order to live…We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the

Tyrants big and little

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How would an onlooker have described the scene at the 2nd hole of the golf course I played on during the summer after high school? The tee overlooked the pin far below, nearly a vertical drop, and way in the left-hand distance were mountains that looked serrated down the

Daily Details Made Monumental

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Exterior details lend themselves to the interior landscape of a character or narrator. What one chooses to notice, how one describes an object, says more about the speaker than it does about that thing. A character who spends a whole paragraph noticing someone’s unwashed, unkempt hair tells the reader