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Saturday December 10th

Award-winning author Zelda Lockhart encourages telling stories through truth

Zelda Lockhart leading a working at the Chapel Hill Public Library
Photo taken by Krupa Kaneria
Buy Photos Zelda Lockhart leading a working at the Chapel Hill Public Library Photo taken by Krupa Kaneria

The Chapel Hill Public Library hosted a writing and community-building event led by award-winning author Zelda Lockhart on Jan. 24. The event focused on how writing connects individuals regardless of their separate identities.

Lockhart, who holds a Ph.D. in expressive art therapies, read excerpts from her latest book, "The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript: Turning Life’s Wounds into the Gift of Literary Fiction, Memoir or Poetry." She used her book as the guideline for the event, drawing from the book some of the exercises that can help people start writing during difficult times and write what they want to write.

Lockhart said that the missing ingredient in all of her other poems was the emotion that made up her identity and her life.

“We want to be clever, we want to be seen and heard and applauded," Lockhart said. "Are we willing to tell the truth even if we don’t know if anyone is even listening?"

She talked about internal saboteurs, little voices that can keep you from writing. Lockhart said that these “saboteurs” can take many forms, such as lethargy saboteurs or cleanliness saboteurs.

“People often ask me, ‘How do you write for four hours a day, Zelda?’ Well, I take the time that you are using to clean your house, and I wrote with it,” she said. “Don’t let yourself make up excuses that keep you from doing whatever you want to do.”

Lockhart’s book includes many jump starters – exercises that help people start writing. One of the jump starters that Lockhart highlighted entails taking a book, opening it up to a random page, pointing a finger at a specific part or line and using that part as inspiration. 

Andrew Sadowsky, a resident of Chapel Hill, said that he heard about the event from his mother. 

“I write books about fantasy. I think the event was really truthful. What she said is the closest thing to the truth that I have ever heard, and it’s good writing advice,” he said.

Lockhart opened up the floor for people to share their own writing advice. Jenny Lewis, an event attendee, said that writing doesn’t have to be perfect. 

“I recommend those shitty first drafts. Just write it. Just put it down. It doesn’t have to be ready for publication,” Lewis said.

Toward the end of the event, Lockhart passed out pieces of paper and asked everyone to write down something that had happened to them today. She then asked everyone to fold up their papers, pass them to someone else, and share the story that was written on the piece of paper while connecting the story to their own lives.

“These are other people’s experiences, but these experiences help stimulate and think of our own experiences,” Lockhart said.

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