Published internationally, Lisa is co-founder of YaleWomen Writers and Writing Outside the Lines, and Associate Nonfiction Editor at miniskirt magazine. She is delightfully smitten with her girlfriend and two cats. Lisa Fabish’s piece, ‘Hammy the Hamster’, can be found in EPOCH Issue 03: Roots, available to purchase here. You can find Lisa on Twitter: @lisafabishwrite
Why do you write CNF, and do you explore other genres in your work?
I write memoir because it forces me to tell the truth.
My most trusted early reader has a unique superpower: she can read a draft and point to a passage I thought was complete and say, with uncanny accuracy: “You’re lying here. I don’t know what the truth is, but you haven’t found it yet.”
When I write a memoir, the deeper I dig to understand my own emotions and motivations, the more powerful the work is.
With fiction, I’m always tempted to create the character I want to see. With CNF, I’m forced to try to understand human beings—including myself—as they are.
Did you have a piece already written when you learned about Epoch’s theme, or did you write a new piece? If so, how did you approach the theme of Roots in the creation of your work?
I originally wrote Hammy the Hamster as a way to explore the backstory to the full-length memoir I’ve just finished revising. The book is about leaving my past behind and learning to love myself in all my messy, imperfect glory.
Hammy the Hamster, bless his tiny, deceased heart, helped me dig into one facet of the past I’d left behind.
What is the biggest challenge when writing CNF?
My biggest fear has always been that if people saw the real me, I’d lose their love. On the one hand, that means that writing—and publishing—memoir is terrifying. On the other, because memoir is best when we are the most authentic, my writing community gives me permission to work through that fear and challenges me to love myself in all my complexity.
Their support makes me believe that rendering my truth on the page—ruthlessly in all its ugliness—is an act of love, not a baring of shame.
What is your favorite piece of art in your home?
A gorgeously haunting alleyway in earth-toned watercolor. I found it hanging, unframed, on the wall of my art classroom. My teacher—professional artist Janine Sahm—had painted it in just a couple of hours, as a class demonstration, and pinned it to the wall.
She was surprised when I asked her if I could buy it. She’d thought she was “just teaching” when she’d painted it and had no idea that this piece had the power to mesmerize me every time I entered the room.
We don’t always know who a piece of work will touch, but if we put that work out into the world, it will find its home.