Guest Author Caryn Miriam-Goldberg

If you are a frequent visitor here at the CMash blog, then you know that Jodi from WOW, always stops by and introduces us to amazing and talented female authors.  And today is no exception.  So I ask, to help me welcome, Ms. Caryn Miriam-Goldberg!


Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the Poet Laureate of Kansas, and the author of 14 books, including a forthcoming non-fiction book, Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other (Potomac Books); The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community & Coming Home to the Body (Ice Cube Books); the anthologies An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate (co-editor, Ice Cube Books) and Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems (editor, Woodley Press); and four collections of poetry. Founder of Transformative Language Arts – a master’s program in social and personal transformation through the written, spoken and sung word – at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-writes songs, offers collaborative performances, and leads writing and singing Brave Voice retreats.
Connect with the author at her website.


The Long Way Home: Writing As a Way of Healing

            Growing up as someone who had to make something to feel right in the world, I used to draw incessantly, but when I was 14, I switched on a dime to writing. The reason? My parents’ outlandish, long-winded and terrifying divorce pointed me toward words to make sense out of a reality that included my father kidnapping my mother’s Hummel figurines and neither of them moving out of the house during a year of court battles.

            There’s an old Yiddish saying that everything is bearable is it’s part of a story, and I know that was true for me. By narrating what I was living as a teenager caught in the middle of a domestic war, I could see some kind of crazy coherence to what was happening, a narrative thread that helped me track the symbolic moments that I knew I would need to bring to therapy sessions for years ahead as well as gain enough distance to see sign posts of hope and courage along the way. From the year of the divorce through the next year of living as my father’s wife-daughter through the final year of our family merging with a very different kind of family, I wrote. I knew that once day I would write a novel about all of this.

So it was no surprise that within weeks of turning in my PhD dissertation, I started writing The Divorce Girl. Having been through a lot of good therapy and, even more so, the passage of time, and now being a mother myself, I had arrived at the place where I had the perspective I needed to start this novel.

That starting place was 17 years ago, which I know is an outrageously long time to write a book, but the process itself has been right on time. I wrote the first draft during a long, hot summer, sitting at my husband’s grandfather’s giant desk in my basement. Having composted in me for decades, the novel came out in a rush, and I often wrote 10 to 20 pages each day. Then, suddenly feeling overwhelmingly depressed and too exhausted to even walk upstairs to the couch or my bed, I curled up on the carpet under the desk and took a nap. Strangely enough, I woke 15 minutes later, refreshed, and within an hour or so I was positively elated.

This went on until autumn when I had a solid draft. Then I let it air itself out for a year until I was ready and had time to start revising it with giant rewrites and re-configurations of characters or new threading or a core theme through the novel.

The writing time was herded into small spaces by the happenings in my life: I had full-time work teaching and leading writing workshops, three kids (my youngest was a newborn when I started the book), a house in the country with too much weeding to ever finish, cars that needed work, dishes that were never done, and lot of other writing projects. During this time, I’ve had 12 books published (poetry, a memoir, anthologies, a writing guide), which also took center stage, one at a time, for long periods. But I also took so long on the book because it took many years of working with agents and editors to find the right press for it.

Yet sometimes when we can’t find the right door to open for something we care about, it can be blessing to wait. Taking so much time helped me come to cleaner terms with the most impossible time and people in my life, writing my way through old hurts and aging anger. That spaciousness also allowed me to get very clear about what this book was and wasn’t truly about beyond my longing to see it published. That process entailed editing out what didn’t serve the book (“killing my darlings” as the saying goes) and searching out what this book is truly about after peeling away my own feelings about its healing role in my life.

What I realized was that I wanted to share with readers a story of someone who found her way through making things — in my main character’s case, photographs — that helped her discover herself and her calling. I wanted to lift of a story of how we can find our way through soul-battering life experiences and learn, even in the hardest moments, to trust our innate voices and take creative risks to land us where we need to be.

Writing The Divorce Girl has been healing for me, and now I hope it’s healing for readers too.



Meet Deborah Shapiro, a New Jersey teenage photographer whose parents’ outrageous divorce lands her in the biggest flea market in the free world, a Greek diner with immigration issues, a New York City taxi company, a radical suburban synagogue, a hippie-owned boutique, and bowling alleys, beaches and bagel shops. As her home explodes apart, a first love, a series of almost-mothers, and a comical collection of eccentric mentors show Deborah how to make art out of life, and life from the wreckage of a broken home. This debut novel of Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg travels through wild loss, untended grief and bad behavior with humor and imagination. Reminiscent of the works of Wally Lamb, Stephanie Kallos, and Kaye Gibbons, this coming of age story illuminates how a daring heart can turn a broken girl into a woman strong enough to craft a life of art, soul and beauty.
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Young Adult
Just Thought You Should Know (from WOW):
We feel The Divorce Girl will appeal to a YA audience but, because there is some violence and sexual scenes, we’d like to appeal to YA bloggers followed by older teens (15 and up) not the tween market.



I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

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