Fiction & Feeling is very happy to announce that SPLIT: true stories about the end of marriage and what happens next will be released in March 2017. We received many beautiful and moving submissions for this collection and have chosen 14 essays about divorce by divorced writers to fill the pages of this book.
Without further ado, here are the authors along with a short description of their essays and what you can look forward to reading.
Bo and her partner had a public persona that looked almost exactly like their actual life. It was an artistic, sexual, passionate relationship they were proud of, but then it suddenly ended. She’s spent the past year mourning and missing her partner, talking aloud to her ghost at night. Bo writes about the grief at the end of a relationship. In her essay she asks the question, “How did we love each other so much, but end up better off apart?”
Bo Abeille lives in Seattle, WA with her magnificent cat Maximus. Bo is a queer femme velvet enthusiast who spends her days helping people look fabulous and feel good about themselves through the power of vintage clothing. She has engaged in a variety of creative endeavors, most of which involve fashion and weird sex stuff. Her biggest passion is body positivity, and she expresses her own by photographing herself wearing and removing clothing. If you sit next to Bo she will go on at length about Beyoncé, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, and Lana Del Rey. Above all else Bo loves compliments and hummus. You can follow her on Instagram.
Every Saturday morning, Janelle catches up over the phone with her best friend. They share what’s going on in their lives and talk about their shared interests. She tells him about who she’s dating. He tells her about what movies he’s going to see. And they talk about where they are in the process of their divorce. They’re best friends and yet their divorce was necessary for Janelle to live her authentic life. That doesn’t come without baggage and guilt, which is something she’s still navigating.
Janelle Asselin is a writer and editor. She’s the founder of Rosy Press, a former Batman editor, and an award-winning comics journalist. She has a masters in publishing from Pace University, where she wrote a thesis on increasing sales of comics to women. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her two cats. You can support her on Patreon, and follow her on Twitter.
“Don’t hug each other, admonishes one of the lawyers in the waiting room. You shouldn’t let them see you hug. Why not? Why not? I don’t understand what’s allowed, what’s appropriate, what’s offensive. Just as we let go of each other with damp eyes, they invite us back in. They hand us the paperwork. The Dayan in the middle tells me, you are now forbidden to a man for three months. I am too puzzled to feel indignation.” Hadar was married when she was young and living in Israel. Her essay recalls the day she gets divorced, weaving in memories of the circumstances that led to the end of her marriage.
Hadar Aviram is the author of Cheap on Crime: Recession Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment (University of California Press, 2015). She lives, teaches, swims, sings, and writes in San Francisco, California, with her partner and two cats. You can follow her on Twitter.
Kathryn knew her marriage was over the moment he looked down on the tiny watercolour-in-progress on her desk and called it a “perversion”; her journey and development as an artist began in earnest the day she moved out. Her essay looks at the connections between creativity, self expression and partnership, especially when both parties are creatives. Her essay reflects on the journey to find her own voice and vision once she had broken free of his.
Kathryn Briggs originally hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia, but in 2012 she moved to Scotland to pursue her Masters, and loved it too much to leave. She’s an award-winning graphic novelist, combining her background in fine art with her love of pop culture to create comics which range from slice of life to comparative mythology. She’s also an arts educator, she runs Ex Libris Book Fair, she has an ever-growing book addiction, drinks too much coffee, and makes too many dumb jokes with her beloved husbeast. Her work can be found in Treehouse Comic, Dirty Rotten Comics, Sliced Quarterly, TYCI, Meanwhile…, The Drouth, and released through her own small press, Ess Publications. You can visit her website, and follow her on Twitter.
“I can pinpoint where my anxiety became aggressive and took hold of my life – the fear of making the wrong choices, the wrong decisions, froze me in utter terror. What if I let down my wife or my children, or made a choice that affected them negatively? My wild beast circled me, and I chose to remain still. Like a taut wire, I held myself desperately in place, determined not to snap, but I only succeeded in stretching myself too thin to be of use.” CK writes about the role of anxiety and mental health in the deterioration of his marriage and how his divorce allowed him to take responsibility for his life and future.
CK Burch is a self-published author of pulp adventure, weird tales, and science fiction. He has been writing stories since his early childhood, chasing the spirits of Steven Spielberg and Stephen King as his inspiration for entertaining thrills. He has also worked with Carpe Noctem magazine under the guidance of Thom and Cat Carnell as Assistant Editor for various projects, and is an active freelance editor. You can add him on Facebook, and buy his books on Amazon.
Jennifer got married for the first time at age 17, and signing the license still ranks as one of the most awkward moments of her life. Flanked by her parents (married 38 years, never divorced) under the buzzing fluorescent lights of a county courthouse office, she signed her guardianship into the hands of her then-boyfriend and first love for the remaining months of her legal childhood. They split up four and a half years later, the day after her 22nd birthday. Divorce anointed her the official breakup coach for her friends; it influenced the succeeding romantic relationships in her life; and it taught her that the phrase “I’m divorced. I’m not ready for a relationship,” was a potent aphrodisiac to casual sex partners, who nearly all responded by declaring her”intriguing” and pushing for more intimacy than she was willing to give. Jennifer’s essay explores how divorce was the catalyst for her coming of age.
Jennifer Culp is an artist and writer. Her work lives in The Kinsey Institute Gallery’s permanent collection, Lark Crafts Ring a Day book, NICHE magazine, Racked, Millihelen, The Hairpin, The Toast, The Mary Sue, The Establishment, the homes of private collectors and friends, and on Instagram. She lives with a man, three dogs, two fish, a tortoise, a wizard in a glass globe, and hundreds of prisms. You can visit her website, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
Divorce can force people to change in real, tangible ways and often quite quickly – this makes it unique to explore. Lucia writes about her experience surrounding the end of her marriage in regards to the mental and emotional shift she went through to prepare herself for life without her husband. Fear to faith to freedom – she changed and learned so much about herself during this time. In many ways it was a sort of rebirth.
Lucia Duncan is a radio broadcaster, paralegal, and college professor teaching paralegal and indigenous studies. She is a proud single mother of two children; a gifted 15-year-old daughter, and 6-year-old son marching his way along the autism spectrum. She’s had almost two decades working in the film and television industry with artists like Mobb Deep, Royce Da 5’9, Boot Camp Clik and Cappadona. You can listen to her radio show Sundays 7-9 pm EST and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
“She could never sleep if light intruded. She needed absolute darkness. It didn’t matter to me, practically speaking – I could rest either way. The window was mounted with heavy, louvered wooden blinds, and they were shut. We were married and we both could sleep in the dark, and it never bothered me at the time, hiding that window away.” Ray focuses on the blinds in his bedroom – formerly their bedroom – to explore the compromises in marriage, and the small ways we reassert ourselves and return to (or redefine) ourselves when it’s over.
Ray Fawkes is an award-winning writer and artist best known for his creator-owned graphic novels ONE SOUL, THE PEOPLE INSIDE, THE SPECTRAL ENGINE, and INTERSECT. He has worked for DC Comics on BATMAN:ETERNAL, CONSTANTINE, and GOTHAM BY MIDNIGHT. You can visit his website, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
Gibson’s essay is about how his divorce transformed the way he saw himself as a father. Prior to his divorce, he had become the type of father he swore he would never be—detached and self-absorbed. His divorce was extremely difficult for all involved and it forced him and his ex to co-parent in a way they never had while they were married. Most significantly, it forced him to confront the physical and emotional abuse he suffered as a child, and his own difficulties with what it means to be a “father.” His essay outlines his journey to becoming an engaged and loving father who has a very close relationship with his daughters.
Gibson Grand has written for the stage and screen. A collection of his short stories and poetry, Leave Your Money on the Dresser, is available on Amazon. His stories have also been published in the arts and culture journal, Transgressive Culture . He is currently working on a novel. You can visit his website, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
“But you and Aurora’s mom live together?” Translation: If you and Shaun are partners, then why do you and Holly have the same address? And why do you attend family events together? And why do you have the same last name? “Not exactly,” I said. “My partner and I own a house with an attached one-bedroom apartment, and Holly rents it (I try not to use the word “ex-wife” when describing her), which makes co-parenting easier than if she lived somewhere else.” Translation: It’s far more complicated, but this is the simplest way I can explain it.” William’s essay explores how there are no clear divides when you share something as primal as parenting, but when there are no fingers to point and no blame to place, you still must reconcile the end of the marriage with the beginning of something else.
William Henderson has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 20 years. His memoir, Second Person, Possessive, was released in 2013 by Boston-based Ash Press. He works as a marketing manager at a third-party government registration firm in central Florida, where he lives with his partner, and shares custody of his two children with his ex-wife. He and his ex-wife also share custody of an electric drill; more than 2,000 books; and albums filled with photographs, postcards, and other ephemera from their 18 years (and counting) entanglement. You can visit his website and follow him on Twitter.
Anna Graham Hunter
“A few months ago my sister Kate told me she knows lots of marriages that have broken up in LA. I got defensive and asked, Whose? She said that the ground is firmer in New York, that things in general are tighter. That’s true. Here it is so warm and lovely that we don’t need to huddle together. The earth is not bedrock but sand and fault lines. Soon enough I’ll have to tell her that she can add ours to the list.” Anna writes in small snapshots about the years surrounding her divorce, including adventures with Tinder, fantasies of widowhood, and what it takes to move forward alone.
Anna Graham Hunter is a former carpenter, bartender, middle-school teacher, speechwriter, lobbyist, and executive coach. Brooklyn native, Los Angeles convert. She recently completed a memoir, Anyone Who Comes Close: A Year of Tinder, Divorce, and Love in the Age of the Internet. For more writing, check out her latest on Medium. You can follow her on Facebook, because she sucks at Twitter.
“One year after my wedding, inside the freedoms of a slightly open marriage, I fell in love for the first time in my life. Hopelessly. I walked around euphoric for months drunk on the fact of another person, my heart walking around in another body. The person I fell in love with was a sadist, someone who reflected without flaw or damage all the things I thought were broken parts of me.” Jones writes her essay on the challenges of self-acceptance that made love possible amidst her divorce.
Jones is a designer, photographer, and writer from Toronto. She likes tall tales, tall men, 24-hour anything, and wayward girls. She puts cream in her coffee and creates erotic stories and images at eveunleashed.com. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
What happens to a scholar of gender and tradition who gets married and then divorced, knowing the whole time that marriage and divorce take recent and culturally specific forms in the West? In this essay, Jeana explores how her scholarly heritage provoked a series of ambivalent feelings about her marriage and subsequent divorce, focusing on the weirdness of inhabiting a highly traditional gendered role. In her feminist academic endeavours she critiques the emotional labor and sexual patterns found in recent Western marriage and divorce, even as in her private life she found herself enacting them. The resulting cognitive dissonance was jarring, and she’s still working through it. She hopes to offer a meditation on how traditions shape us and how we shape them, tempered by the sadness of coping with a major life change that, while needed, was not expected.
Jeana Jorgensen holds a PhD in folklore from Indiana University. Her academic and popular writing both address questions of gender and sexuality in fairy tales, folklore, and pop culture. She blogs at Patheos.com among other sites, and her poetry has appeared in Stone Telling. When not in the library or college classroom, she belly dances, bakes, rock climbs, works with sex educators and activists, and plays with fire. You can follow her blog, and follow her on Twitter.
Sarah Rose Sharp
“Without me, you’ll die alone,” was the thing JR liked to remind me of, when he feared I would leave him. I feared he was right, and he saw this. I missed his first call about being released from the hospital, and by the time I showed up, ten minutes late, to take him to rehab, he’d somehow gotten drunk again. I drove there anyway, refusing to let him out of the car, even as he cursed at me and taunted me and urinated in an empty Gatorade bottle because I knew if I stopped to let him go to the bathroom, I’d lose him. He couldn’t be admitted drunk, so the rehab facility had to send him back to the hospital, but he was out of my hands for the moment. I was left alone for ten days in the home we’d tried to make together.” Sarah writes about her marriage as that thing one does when they have a feeling their life needs some sort of fundamental change, and her divorce, which was the culmination of realizing the results of that fundamental change.
Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, photographer and multimedia artist. She writes about art and culture, online and in print, for Art in America, Hyperallergic, Flash Art, ArtSlant and others. She was named a 2015 Kresge Literary Arts Fellow for Arts Criticism and was selected as a participant in the 2015 Art Writing Workshop facilitated by AICA/USA and the Art Writers Grant Program. She has guest lectured at University of Michigan, Wayne State, and Oakland University, and shown work in New York, Seattle, and Detroit. She is primarily concerned with artist and viewer experiences of making and engaging with art, and conducts ongoing research in the state of contemporary art in redeveloping cities, including a process blog called “Breakfast with the Artist.” You can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, and add her to Facebook.