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Writer of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry Richard McCann, author of Mother of Sorrows.

This week's Write the Book Prompt comes to us from the writer Dorothy Allison, by way of my guest, Richard McCann. In teaching writing at American University, he will occasionally offer this prompt to his students. First, he has them read Dorothy Allison's essay, SURVIVAL IS THE LEAST OF MY DESIRES, which is included in her collection, SKIN. In the essay, she suggests that writers make use of the whole of their lives: honor your dead, your wounded and your lost, and acknowledge your crimes and your shames-what you did and did not do in this world. Richards suggests making a list: who are your dead, your wounded and your lost (literal and metaphorical), and what are the crimes and shames of what you did and did not do. He says those lists become good places from which to start writing.

Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another.

Excerpt of Mother of Sorrows read with permission from Vintage, a division of Random House.

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