Scenes: The Building Blocks of Memoir

Know anyone in Yoakum, TX? If so, please send them my way. I’ll be there on Saturday morning, October 5th, giving a free presentation on how to write vivid scenes.

This is sponsored by the Texas Writes program – a great initiative through the Writers’ League of Texas that brings writers to rural libraries for a half day of presentations and panel discussions. More details below…

Yoakum Event

Memoir 101: Online Workshop in January

I’m excited to teach a six-week memoir workshop for Catapult starting on January 7th. If you sign up, you’ll come out of the class with:

– A community of peers embarking on similar projects

– Thoughtful feedback from the instructor and your peers on two excerpts from your memoir-in-progress

– Over a dozen prompts designed to help you generate new material when you’re feeling stuck

– A revision protocol that opens up numerous possibilities for strengthening your draft

– A sample query letter and a book proposal template

– A letter from the instructor offering feedback, possible directions for revision, and a personalized reading list

– A 30-minute, one-on-one virtual conference with the instructor to go over your questions and identify goals for the next six months

Only a few spots left: register today.


Back in the Swing of Things

“The way to rock oneself back into writing is this. First gentle exercise in the air. Second the reading of good literature.

It is a mistake to think that literature can be produced from the raw. One must get out of life…one must become externalised; very, very concentrated, all at one point, not having to draw upon the scattered parts of one’s character, living in the brain.”

― Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary

Constraint and Wildness

“My trouble seems to be to bring together in me the Puritanical iron hand of constraint and the gushes of pure wildness. One can’t survive or write without both but they need to come to terms. Rather narrow walking.”

– Robert Lowell in a letter to Elizabeth Bishop, 1959


Five-Star Review from Bust

Such a beautiful review from Bust magazine. Thank you, Laurie Cedilnik!

Here’s an excerpt:

“This compelling debut is shaped like a search for a long-lost friend, or an examination of a love affair that left the author forever changed. . . . Wilbanks weaves a fiercely candid account of reconciling with a faith whose tenets seem set in stone.”


Publisher’s Weekly Review

I got an awesome early birthday present today: a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly for When I Spoke in Tongues!

Here’s a snippet:

“Wilbanks, winner of a Pushcart Prize for essay writing, debuts with the captivating story of how she turned away from God. She eloquently explores her long journey from being a Pentecostal Christian who spoke in tongues to being an atheist. . . . Whether writing of these scars, her dad’s rusty pickup trucks, or massive Pentecostal revivals in Lagos, Wilbanks captures the scene beautifully. Wilbanks’s slow deconstruction of her family-given religiosity is an evocative inversion of the average spiritual journey.”