Stephanie Land on Beating Writer’s Block and Finishing Her Second Memoir
Check out Part 3 of our interview with one of Narratively’s storytelling heroes.
In the first two parts of my interview with Stephanie Land, guest judge for the 2023 Narratively Memoir Prize, we chatted about how she launched her writing career and how her memoir, Maid, was turned into a hit TV show. In Part 3, we dive into how she wrote her second memoir, Class: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education, which will be published on November 7, 2023. That’s next week!
Brendan: I feel like, for a lot of writers, once you have a memoir published it can be hard to get going on that second book because it’s like, “I already wrote my life story. What now?” How did you settle on what you were gonna write about in Class?
Stephanie: I always wanted to write this story. Right before Maid came out, I wrote a piece for The New York Review of Books called “Portrait of the Artist as a Single Mom.” And I always wanted to write more about this. To me, the part of my story that I thought was me being at my strongest was the part where I left [the abusive relationship depicted in Maid] and went on to graduate from college.
When we sold my second book — I actually signed the contract for that in January of 2020 — it was a completely different book than it is now. I couldn’t sell another memoir. It was gonna be heavily reported, which to me was just like, “I’m not a journalist, I have no idea how to do this. I’m just gonna figure out how to be a journalist while writing this book, I guess.” Every time I tried interviewing people, I just felt so un-confident that I was gonna be able to do it. It just wasn’t happening. I was blocked. Completely blocked.
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