Potter College News
Intersectional and Place-Based Writing: Navigating Memoir Writing with Raechel Anne Jolie
- Abbey Gore
- Tuesday, February 21st, 2023
On Wednesday, February 15, the author Raechel Anne Jolie came to WKU to discuss their new book and give general tips for writers. Jolie (she/they) is the author of Rust Belt Femme, a memoir about her life growing up in Ohio and the influence that music and her community had on them. Jolie initially comes from a background in academic writing but pivoted towards literary writing to look into something different, which was how their memoir came to be.
“It felt really liberating to be able to write in that way that was a breakaway from academic writing,” said Jolie.
Jolie spoke on a variety of topics, from embracing your past, the importance of honesty in your writing, and how your life will shape what you know to write about. They also emphasized the importance of using the right voice to put the reader in the moment rather than depending fully on facts. Jolie spoke on the ethics of writing, particularly for memoirs but encouraged audience members to find their own ethics on the situation and stand firm to maintain those boundaries.
Specifically, Jolie mentioned how this book taught her that sometimes your writing will lead you to where you need to go and spoke on how writing about their town led to unexpected but intense historical research, which led to a deeper respect for this town she was writing about. Jolie told the audience about the importance of writing your story, no matter what you do with it because writing about it can help you to see how you became who you are today.
“We have the opportunity to create a narrative of our lives whether we publish a book or not,” said Jolie.
After their talk concluded, Jolie took questions from the audience and many of them had questions concerning how Jolie’s family responded to their memoir. In response, Jolie emphasized how she decided to give all of the “main characters” of the story a chance to read it and highlighted the fact that writing about family can get difficult because it is so personal but that it is important.
“We can’t not write about it,” said Jolie.
Jolie also cited time as a significant factor in healing from rehashing the past and opening up new lines of compassion and insight into how you can approach your writing.
Following the event at FAC, Jolie traveled up the hill to Cherry Hall and sat in on Dr. Dale Rigby’s Writing Memoir and Autobiography class to hear from students who had read her book. In the class students fielded questions to Jolie, who was glad to give advice and had an easy dialogue with the students.
“I’ve never really been around a guest speaker that I could just talk to,” said sophomore Karlee Wheeler, a student in the class. “It was like talking to a friend.”
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