Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

It's a Book!

Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard) started five years ago at a performance arts festival. Between then and now, I wrote over 300 postcard life stories, condensing over 10,000 years of life. Now it's a book. You can get it directly from Mud Luscious or from Amazon. Unfortunately, I couldn't publish everybody's postcard life story in the book or it would have come in around 700 pages. So the book is a selection from the project. Here's the Table of Contents: #45 Adam Robinson, #46 Karen Lillis, #52 Josh Maday, #49 Red Delicious Apple, #66 Blake Butler, #67 G, #70 Elizabeth Ellen, #75 Moose the Cat, #76 Deborah Ling, #91 Kathryn Jachowski, #98 Chair, #100 Jonathon Bender, #101 Elizabeth Crane, #102 Shanti Perez, #103 Rachel Joy, #111 Aaron Goolsby, #114 Sammy the Dog, #117 Baby C, #118 Nate Jackson, #125 J, #129 Matt Bell, #130 El Duque the Cat, #131 Tao Lin, #133 Rahne Alexander, #137 Rhode Island Red, #141 Steve Katz, #149 Christopher Douglas Bowles, #158 Patrick King, #161 L, #166 Beowulf the Cat, #167 Ken Baumann, #170 T-Shirt, #176 Cyndy Taylor, #184 Stephanie Barber, #188 R, #195 Kaya Larsen, #197 A. Jarrell Hayes, #199 Luca Dipierro, #200 Grendel the Cat, #209 Julie Riso, #210 F, #221 Effie Gross, #228 Nick Kane, #240 Monte Riek, #242 N, #249 Umbrella Cover, #255 Andy Devine, #263 Edgar Allan Poe, #265 Abby the Horse, #267 Michael Kimball, #280 Brin-Jonathan Butler, #282 Robin Black, #288 Stephen Graham Jones, #290 Catherine Lacey, #302 John Quincy Adams, #304 Shannon Sullivan, #307 Soap.

#282 Robin Black: Growing Up Unhappy and Becoming Happier in a Way that Makes Unhappy People Feel Like They Can Become Happier Too

Robin Black was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the youngest of three children. Her parents were legal scholars and she grew up in a great big house that was not a bit fancy. The house had lots of illness around it, which made growing up pretty odd. When Robin was 10, her grandmother who was a paraplegic from spinal tumors moved in with the family. Also, her father’s difficult moods dominated the household and his lack of balance kept everybody off-balance. Robin had ADD (still does) and other learning issues, which made her feel like a failure growing up. She was always the kid with unfinished homework and she missed lots of school because of illnesses, which had their basis in her fear of going to school. When Robin was 16, she asked her parents if she could go into therapy and that probably saved her life. She’s thankful for that instinct to get help when life felt so overwhelming. Robin’s memories of childhood are largely unhappy ones, but she always liked reading and writing, and she loved theater. She was in every school play and some community theater too. Playing a character was a great way to not deal with her own stuff. Robin studied voice too and can sing just about every song written between the two world wars. If she wasn’t going to be an actress, she was going to be a nightclub singer. But she didn’t pursue either, in part, because she was afraid of how sophisticated the other theater kids seemed when she got to college. That paralyzed her and she took German instead, which made no sense at all. During college, Robin took time off to return home and be her grandmother’s caregiver. After college, she became severely agoraphobic and couldn’t leave her house without having crippling anxiety attacks. During this time, Robin also had two difficult pregnancy losses, one late along, and those were shattering experiences. Robin met her wonderful husband Richard at a Public Service Fair when she was in law school, which she was doing so she could support herself and her kids. She was 30ish, had ended her first marriage, and was a mother of two children. Richard has been a full-fledged parent to her two older kids and to the daughter they have together. She’s amazed by how much he can give to other people. Around 40, Robin decided agoraphobia wouldn’t get in her way anymore. It took years of intensely difficult work, but she beat the disease. Most of the decisions Robin made the first 40 years of her life were motivated by fear. Robin’s kids are now 23, 19, 15 (girl, boy, girl) each amazing and amazingly kind. Her daughters are gamer girls and her son is a singer, which makes her super happy. Her youngest has significant learning disabilities and works so hard for things that come easily to most. The learning disabilities concern language processing, so Robin and her daughter are always trying to find the right words, though for very different reasons. Along with her family, Robin also loves her dog Watson, who is so loving back. It's important to have a relationship that doesn't involve words. For now, Robin wants to keep writing, to age well, and have friends who think she’s kind and funny, which she does. She wants to write a book about growing up unhappy and becoming happier that makes unhappy people feel like they can become happier. She also wants to sing more, but not in some corny, metaphorical way. She actually wants to sing more.
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The 1-Hour MFA (in fiction)

I'm doing my 1-Hour MFA (in fiction) talk at Conversations and Connections: Practical Advice on Writing, which is in DC on April 16. My talk is at 3:45, but there's a whole day of great people talking about writing--including Steve Almond, Rae Bryant, Matt Bell, Amber Sparks, Tara Laskowski, Adam Robinson, Mike Young, Susan Muaddi-Darraj, Lalita Noronha, Eugenia Kim, Marita Golden, Dan Brady, Will Grofic, Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson, Cathy Alter, Matt Kirkpatrick, Randall Brown, Steve Himmer, Dylan Landis, Eric Goodman, Janice Shapiro, Robin Black, Leslie Pietrzyk, Mark Drew, Mark Cugini, Reb Livingson, Kim Kupperman, Dan Cafaro, Molly Gaudry, Erin Fitzgerald, Susan McCallum Smith, and Dave Housley.
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