PhD, author of the memoir The Days Are Gods (University of Nebraska Press). Ms. Stephens’ essays appear in Brief Encounters: An Anthology of Short Nonfiction (W.W. Norton, 2015), and Dirt: An Anthology (New England University Press, 2015). She has served as managing editor and contributor to Brevity: A Journal of Concise Nonfiction and has written there extensively on current nonfiction craft and ethics issues. She has been nominated for both the Annie Dillard Creative Nonfiction Award and the Duke University Documentary Essay prize.
I believe in story. I think humans can’t resist it. The power and momentum of story has carried and translated all our history and myths to us, about our cultures and our families. And it’s so convincing, it’s a power not always used for good. Stories, true ones and “true” ones, are told about everything. But I believe we can use a skill of writing stories, which we can learn, to connect; to communicate our joys and frailties to the rest of the human race – and so often, to ourselves as we begin to understand them. By understanding the events and observations of our lives as a story, we can connect with readers, by slowing down and untangling the scenes, the characters, the themes, the dialogue, and arc of our true life, we can tell the story of all lives. We can all see ourselves reflected in the story, and understand others better this way. It’s a pretty grand idea, but I believe in it.