#AWP17 Conference Report — Heidi Fettig Parton on “The Craft of Empathy”

So grateful for the opportunity to guest blog over at Assay Journal about an excellent panel discussion that I attended at #AWP17 on The Craft of Empathy.


I’ve been spending lots of time over at the web page of Ana Maria Spagna, panel moderator, reading her essays; she’s is my new writer hero!

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies

awp#AWP17 Panel Report: F151 The Craft of Empathy

Description: Writing with empathy in mind, especially in nonfiction, can create texture in our work and be transformative for both writer and reader. On this panel we explore various angles of perspective: scenes where narrators show empathy toward other characters—especially ones who are unlikeable—and vice versa, reflections that suggest empathy of a memoirist for a younger self, as well as techniques for showing empathy, as a writer, for the reader, and from both reader and writer for the nonhuman world.

Panelists: (moderator), , ,

Conference Report

“Empathy is the deeper understanding that we’re all working towards as readers and writers,” Ana Maria Spagna told the audience of the #AWP17 Friday morning panel she moderated. Spagna referenced a 2013 study, which revealed that those who read fiction are more empathetic than those who don’t…

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About Heidi Fettig Parton

I hold an MFA in creative nonfiction from Bath Path University. I write at the intersection of ecological and spiritual issues; I also write about the common experiences that unfold across women's lives, including marriage, motherhood, work matters (and vocation), divorce, and sexuality. Oh, and poetry is my drug of choice.
This entry was posted in #AWP17, Creative Nonfiction, Empathy, Grief, MFA in Writing, openheartedness, Pain, Writing, Writing with Empathy and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to #AWP17 Conference Report — Heidi Fettig Parton on “The Craft of Empathy”

  1. Very useful and valuable to read. I was talking about this just today. People are ‘inconvenienced’ by grief, especially if it takes up more time than they have allotted for it. And that amount of time is hardly more than an eye-blink, maybe a month for a broken relationship/divorce and maybe 4 for a death. That sickens me. How if you love someone can you just ‘suck it up and get over it’ and why has empathy vanished and been replaced with impatience and intolerance? I hope very much there are more of us out there who do not believe grief has a time table to adhere to or that other’s grief is inconvenient.


    • Yes, indeed. Grief is an animal that comes when it will; that remains as it will; that sometimes leaves for a hunt or to chase a mysterious light — but returns again. Sometimes, even, grief provides companionship. I agree, for sure, that grief should not (cannot) be hurried along. Btw–you write beautiful poetry! Thanks for commenting here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much Heidi. I agree and I felt exactly what you were saying, grief doesn’t just come and then wear out in a linear fashion, it circles and as you say, comes and goes, and that truly is the savage aspect of grief that you ‘think’ you are somewhat recovered only to be hit full force again, out of apparently nowhere. I do not understand that other than maybe everything is circular and we try to rationalize things into linear when they simply never were? Thank you for replying! 🙂


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