Tag Archives: Joy Castro



How you can be saying to someone, “You are the most important person in the world to me,” and yet be ignoring the small thing closest to his heart.

Joy Castro,
quoting from her memoir, The Truth Book

A kind of ethical or spiritual discipline

I think sometimes about writing nonfiction as a kind of ethical or spiritual discipline.  The true thing, told plainly, is not always the thing that makes the liveliest story.  In real life, the bon mot wasn’t always uttered, the climax didn’t happen in a setting with an objective correlative handy, and the good guy didn’t always triumph.  Life resists plot–at least on the surface.  To entertain–or to “teach and delight,” in the classical formulation–it’s sometimes simpler to turn to another genre.  But if we decide to pursue creative nonfiction, then the truth (our own remembered, subjective truth) functions as do the rhyme and meter requirements of a sonnet.  It offers us boundaries, discipline.  We are faithful to it.  It pressures us into discovering the material’s own form, into making a new thing that is compelling.

Joy Castro



I was talking to my graduate class a bit … about how career writers–career anything, I suppose–are always having to list their shiny accomplishments, and how it would be such a great relief sometime to write up your Anti-Vita and let people see it.  It would be such a moment of candor, of behind-the-curtain truth.  All the awards you didn’t get, all the amazing journals your work wasn’t good enough to be published in, all the prizes you were nominated for but–oops!–didn’t actually win.  Sigh.  All the teaching innovations, trotted out with such high hopes, that failed miserably.  And so on.  How you sat at home on the sofa and muttered, “What’s the point?,” embarrassing yourself and boring your family members, who tiptoed quietly away.

Revealing all the failures would be such a relief, such an exhale, such an “I’m nobody, who are you?” opportunity.

Joy Castro

Somebody Somewhere

I just love this story:

[O]ne week ago today, when the snow was thick and the sky was gray (again), I received the loveliest surprise:  an email from a woman who’d been on the editorial staff at Quarterly West 15 years ago, when QW published my little flash piece, “In Theory.”

Currently teaching college workshops in creative writing, she wrote:  “I have managed to always keep a copy of that issue close-by so as to teach it, but somewhere in one of my moves, I misplaced my copy.”   She wondered if I had a spare I could send.

Who knew?  You see, you might think your work falls into a pool and just lies at the dark bottom of the pond like littering leaves, rotting away, but somebody somewhere might have been teaching it for 15 years!  You just gotta keep the faith.

Joy Castro