MHCC Instructor Wins Writing Award
Posted: April 23, 2012
UPDATE: Check out the Aug, 20, 2012 issue of People magazine. Lidia Yuknavitch’s book gets a nice mention on page 50.
When Lidia Yuknavitch tells her students at Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) about the writing life, she speaks from experience.
"I was not someone who knew she wanted to be a writer all her life," she says, "but in my adult life I can't imagine being anything else."
Yuknavitch is the author of the memoir, The Chronology of Water, which was a finalist for the 2012 Oregon Book Award and selected by readers as their favorite entry. The book also won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award.
Yuknavitch has penned three short story collections: Her Other Mouths, Liberty's Excess, and Real to Reel. Her debut novel, Dora: A Head Case, will be released in September by Hawthorne Books.
"It's a contemporary revision of the Freud/Dora case study," says Yuknavitch. "You could call it a girl liberation story. I've always wanted to write about messed-up girls, girls with their hair on fire, not-sorry girls, loudmouthed girls."
Asked about shaping a short story versus developing a book-length novel, the Portland author comments that stories involve a finite process and form, with the ending always in mind. Writing a novel, to her, is a journey into the unknown and “it will change you whether you want it to or not."
Yuknavitch's own journey as a writer began when her daughter was stillborn. After that, she says, "when stories started pouring out of me it felt both foreign and familiar."
Her Experiences Enrich Her Work at MHCC
Her first efforts were fiction, but as she continued on to memoir and creative nonfiction, she came to see very little distinction among the categories. And her experience as a published writer now enriches her work at MHCC, where she teaches writing, literature and women's studies.
"I'm conscious of writing as a living, breathing practice, not as something in a textbook or something you do for a grade in a 10-week course. It's living a life. And particularly for women, it's living a struggle to claim artistic practice as a viable and socially relevant activity. So as a writer I teach how to live it, how writing and literature change your life."
Writing has certainly changed Yuknavitch's life. Her stories and creative nonfiction appear widely in literary journals and anthologies, and she has received awards from Literary Arts, Poets and Writers, and the Oregon Arts Council. She's been doing book signings to promote The Chronology of Water, and now she's hard at work on a new novel loosely based on Joan of Arc.