Kaitlyn Greenidge reading at Johnson State College

Contributor Kaitlyn Greenidge‘s absorbing essay, “Something Prickly and Strange,” appears in a recent issue of Talking and Writing:  A Magazine for Writers.  In the essay, Kaitlyn discusses the provocative novel-in-progress excerpted in our spring issue (“Exception to the Rule”).  The novel tells the story of an African American family who move from Boston to the Berkshires to take part in an experiment in which they raise a chimpanzee alongside their own children.  


Kaitlyn’s essay also candidly explores how autobiography can drive the development of a young fiction writer:

When I first began writing, it was for a reason I think a lot of younger people start writing:  revenge.  Wanting to set the record straight. 

 Although I’ve never written a story based strictly on a memory, my earliest pieces were inspired by times in my life when I felt that an emotional justice had not been served or an emotional truth had been ignored.  I wrote to feel justified as a person—as someone with valid feelings and opinions, someone whose observations and understanding of the world were real and credible.

 In the long run, revenge can be a severely limiting motivation.  I remember trying to start a novel in high school and worrying that I would soon run out of autobiographical material.  I couldn’t conceive of writing a main character or narrator who didn’t have my same thoughts and feelings and family background.
As I became more practiced at writing—and especially as I read more—I found that when I read fiction I perceived as coming from that desire for reckoning, it left me dissatisfied.  The work might be spirited and energetic, but I ended up feeling emotionally exhausted and embarrassed—for myself and for the writer.
Read the rest of “Something Prickly and Strange” here . . . (also, read the companion essay written by Kaitlyn’s sister, acclaimed playwright Kirsten Greenidge, “Something Wonderfully Dionysian”).  Certainly we expect to all be hearing more about Kaitlyn Greenidge soon.