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Virginia HolmanVirginia Holman is the author of Rescuing Patty Hearst (Simon & Schuster), a memoir of her mother's untreated schizophrenia. It was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Authors Selection, and received the Outstanding Literature Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She's published essays and articles in DoubleTake Magazine, Redbook, Women's Health, Prevention, Glamour, Self, O Magazine, More, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and elsewhere. Her work has been reprinted in Pushcart Prize series, broadcast on This American Life, and she's received fellowships and awards from the North Carolina Arts Council and The Carter Center. An avid kayaker and outdoorsy type, she also writes the monthly "Excursions" column for Salt Magazine in Wilmington. She teaches at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Virginia will lead a workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference titled, "Getting Started: The Short Personal Essay." The short personal essay (750-1,500 words) can be an end in itself, or it can serve as a portal to longer work. We'll discuss the form and its possibilities, and do some in-class exercises to help you identify your obsessions and clarify your intent. In addition, we'll look at several markets that routinely publish short essays.

 

What was your favorite book as a child?
Little Women.

If you weren’t a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
Professional sea kayaker.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
Exercise vigorously for an hour five times a week no matter what.

Any memorable rejections?
The acceptances are more memorable than the rejections.

Hemingway wrote standing up; Truman Capote wrote lying down. What posture do you write in?
Seated.

The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
I thought Bill Forsyth's adaptation of Marilynne Robinson's novel, Housekeeping, was lovely.

What was the worst?
I'm sure I've seen bad adaptions, but like rejections, they tend to fade from memory.

Why do you feel it’s important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
Writing can be isolating. The NCWN conference offers writers community, instruction, and hope. It's a big reason that North Carolina is a great place for writers.

Do you have pet peeves as a reader? As a writer?
I find exclamation points and italics annoying.

Do you own an electronic reading device?
I don't like reading books on electronic devices.

Are you scheduled in the time you set aside to write, or is your writing time more flexible than that?
I prefer a schedule, but I can force myself to be flexible.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
Both.

What was the first thing you ever published?
A poem in a high-school literary magazine.

Who is your favorite North Carolina author?
There are too many great North Carolina authors to choose one favorite. I'm sad there will be no more novels from Doris Betts. Her novels are smart, funny, and fierce. I'm also looking forward to the new Allan Gurganus novella collection, Local Souls. His short story "Blessed Assurance" (in the collection White People) should be required reading for all North Carolina politicians. How I love that story.

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The North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference will be held November 15-17 at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach. Registration is now open.

 
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