When writing memoir about childhood, or fiction with a child protagonist, how do we convey a child’s point of view and experience? What are the particular characteristics of child consciousness we need to capture? Do we use a child’s language or an adult’s? If we are writing in the voice of a first person child narrator, how do we transmit information beyond what the child understands? Author of the coming of age memoir, Don’t Go Crazy Without Me and Antioch college instructor, Deborah A. Lott, addresses these questions and others to enable us to create memorable and specific child characters, and to convey the perspectives, fantasies, and dilemmas of childhood. 90 minutes with ample examples from fiction and memoir and time at the end to discuss our own work.
Deborah A. Lott is the author of two books, In Session: the Bond Between Women and Their Therapists and the recently published tragicomic memoir, Don’t Go Crazy Without Me. For twelve years, she served as Senior Writer/Editor for the UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. Her creative nonfiction and reportage have been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Alaska Quarterly Review, Bellingham Review, Black Warrior Review, Cimarron Review, the Huffington Post, Salon, Tin House online, The Rumpus, Scoundrel Time, Psychology Today, the Writing Disorder, and many other places. “The Daddy-Cure” which was published in StoryQuarterly garnered Lott’s third Pushcart Prize nomination. Her work has also been thrice named as notables by Best American Essays. She now teaches literature and creative writing at Antioch University, Los Angeles, where she also serves as faculty adviser to Two Hawks Quarterly.com.
What some distinguished writers and reviewers have to say about Don’t Go Crazy without Me
“Deborah A. Lott’s Don’t Go Crazy without Me is funny, horrifying, and heartbreaking – and often surprisingly, all three at once. It’s an astonishingly vivid book, and to read it is to be caught up, just as the writer was, in an impossible, crazy, misfit family. Through grace and nerve and will, Deborah learns that you can’t “screw nature,” or “stop time,” as her father tried to do, “but you could turn your grief into love.” This writer’s love for her deeply screwed-up family is unforgettable. As the best memoirs do, Don’t Go Crazy without Me makes this writer’s story belong to all of us.”
Mark Doty, National Book Award Winner, author of the memoirs, Firebird, Dog Years, Heaven’s Coast, and multiple volumes of poetry.
“Don’t Go Crazy without Me is an extraordinary book. Deborah A. Lott writes about everything – parents, children, bodies, illness, sex, writing – with a voice that is utterly clear and beautiful and funny and original. This is a book written with honesty that will both break your heart and enlarge it.”
Karen E. Bender, National Book Award Finalist, and author of A Town of Empty Rooms, Refund, and Like Normal People.
“Deborah Lott writes with an intelligence that’s simultaneously hilarious, devastating, and generous. Don’t Go Crazy Without Me turns whatever we thought a memoir should do completely on its head and makes something glorious and fresh of the form. It reminds us why we need to laugh, especially in dark times.
Paul Lisicky, author of Later, The Narrow Door, and Lawnboy
“Sentence by sentence, Deborah A. Lott is one of the finest writers I know. Her keen insights into the dynamics of her quirky, unforgettable family, and into family dynamics in general, make this book bound to be a classic.”
Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters
“Brilliantly written with grace, generosity, and a highly refined sense of the absurd, Don’t Go Crazy without Me is the harrowing account of a chaotic, bewildering childhood. This reader was enthralled from the get-go and Deborah A. Lott is now one of my favorite writers and I kiss the hem of her garment."
Abigail Thomas, author of Safekeeping, Three Dog Night, and What Comes Next and How to Like It
“A vivid, compelling, and highly provocative read, Don’t Go Crazy Without Me showcases the memoir as an art form.”
Jody Keisner, The Adroit Journal
“The deeper story, of Lott taking control of her body and thoughts and finding her voice, is what makes this memoir important. . . . Try it, you won’t put it down.”
Bettina Berch, Jewish Book Council
“Don’t Go Crazy Without Me is a fearless, fascinating story of self-discovery and reconciliation.”
Laurel Miriam, Hippocampus Magazine
“A candid, unsettling family portrait of madness and enduring love.”