My Writing

Trista Cornelius

Creative nonfiction and memoir…

Why Creative Nonfiction

When I was eight years old, I had a horrible day. I told my dad about it. He told me to rewrite the story, make it work out in a way I liked better. So, I took myself back in time to a few seconds before The Mortifying Moment. Instead of enduring the ridicule of the “sewing arts” teacher holding up my project as an example of failure, I disappeared into a hole in the ground and reappeared cozy at home watching Wonder Woman on our little Sony TV.

It was utterly unsatisfying.

Ever since then, I have craved true stories. I want to know how others handle their shame. I want to know what others eat for breakfast. I want to know how others face down their biggest fears. I’m serious about breakfast. Some of my favorite writing reveals the extraordinary within the ordinary, like “Oatmeal” by Patricia Twomey Ryan. And of course, an abiding example of enduring shame and facing down fear is Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

So, I write stories from my life. The act of writing helps me understand myself and my experiences, and it makes me feel less alone–I have myself to talk to on the page. And, when a piece gets published, I have readers who respond with empathy and camaraderie. As Phillip Lopate writes in The Art of the Personal Essay, true stories can “make readers feel a little less lonely and freakish.” <–These are my goals as a writer and artist: revealing the extraordinary in the ordinary, and helping myself and others feel less alone and less freakish.

a sampling of my Writing

Timber of the Gods:
an ancient tree in the care-center parking lot
Bacopa Literary Review
coming November 2022

Watering the Plants
Oregon Humanities Magazine
Spring 2022

Giving Up Gardening
Farmer-ish
Spring 2022

Ease Your Anxiety: Make Veggie Broth
Farmer-ish
Summer 2021

You Are What You Eat, If You Think So
Farmer-ish
Fall 2021

Some older ones I still love:

Julia Child’s Savory Life Lessons
The Oregonian
November 2013

No Small Potatoes
The Oregonian
March 2009
About victory gardens in WWII, and one of my favorite bits of research: Two women who pooled resources and grew a victory garden together not only procured enough produce to last the year, they found “a feeling of well-being and health such as we never had before. We are tanned, lean, hard as rocks, more easy-going, inclined to laugh more frequently.”

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