Write What Haunts You

Melissa Sipin

Photo by Joshua Sy

What haunts you? What images or moments have never left you? What do you keep revisiting again and again and again?

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Melissa R. Sipin discusses how her stories are obsessions over such moments. She writes:

I am that kind of writer. You can call us tortured ones, silly ones, obsessive-compulsive ones that labor over each word and breath and inflection and erase erase erase until that one sentence flies on its own, bleeds into the next one.

No remnant of the first draft has remained, except for the one thing that started it all: my brother’s black question mark tattoo, impressed on his right forearm and four inches in height.

Read the full essay at Glimmer Train. Or, check out these other pieces on the writing life:

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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Colleen Kelly Mellor

I agree with this mantra “Write what haunts you” for my particular haunt won’t leave me alone, tho’ I;ve tried, mightily, to quiet the Beast.. Yep, that’s right…I periodically go off into other territory (I write my blog at Biddy Bytes, and post other journal pieces in newspapers as paid freelancer,) but the haunting continues–always there, at the back of my mind. The edits are screaming at me, too, to “Get finished!” to the point I’ve lined up 3 important folks in the journalism and medical field to be my readers, so now I MUST deliver. It’s the gun-to-the-head time.… Read more »

Joseph Vastano

her advice resonates with me at the deepest level. we artists are obsessive creatures. it’s a great thing that we have ART to channel that obsession into.
can’t wait to read her story.

Andy Mort

Yes, wonderfully articulated mantra. It’s the way to find your individual voice. We are all haunted and plagued by different images, ideas, encounters, and we must turn them into something, use them. I do this with my music too. It’s the only satisfying way to deal with the most haunting aspects of life!