On writing “Grasshopper”
by Margaret Conway. 

I write nonfiction because I have no other choice. The characters who clamor inside my head refuse to be fictionalized or tethered to a conventional plot. My mother once said, “You’re a writer? Then write about me. I don’t even care if you say bad things about me—just let them know who I am before I croak.” Who she is? I’ve been trying to puzzle this out for eons, and so I value the supple, capacious medium of creative nonfiction where there’s ample room to wrestle with a character’s baffling complexities before letting her take over, as she’s determined to do. Also, writing needs its wild side, its far frontier. Which is why I pray that the medium does not allow itself to become codified, regulated, explained. Let the mustangs run free. Let there be one last place on a writer’s earth that keeps to its essential mystery.

About the Author

Margaret Conway

Margaret Conway has an MFA from San Francisco State, where she has taught creative writing. She lives in San Francisco. “Grasshopper” is a reworked segment of text from an unpublished memoir, Night Light: Story of an Arson, that recounts the aftermath of a night when the author and her husband awoke to find their place in flames.

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