Lev Raphael: Essays


I fell in love with storytelling way back in second grade but it wasn't until I started on my first book tour in 1990 that I began telling stories about my life, real stories, not stories shaped by my fiction. And audiences enjoyed them. So being asked to write about my suburb of Okemos in Michigan for the anthology Hometowns was both exciting and a bit daunting. Would it be as much fun "sticking to the facts" as re-shaping them for the short stories I'd been publishing for over a decade?

As a writer friend once said, "If you didn't have doubts about your craft, you'd be a jerk." That essay was successful and admired, which opened another door for me. I've continued to enjoy working in this form as much as all the other genres I've published in, exploring a wide array of subjects. It's also been deeply rewarding to teach memoir and essay writing at writers' conferences, in master classes, at Michigan State University, and via my coaching, editing, and mentoring website for writers, writewithoutborders.

You can find many of my pre-pandemic essays in the collections Writing a Jewish LifeBook Lust! & Writer's Block is Bunk.  

These are links to my most recently published essays, from August 2021 to the present:

"My Mother's Secret Memoirs" "Staring at Wheelchairs in the Airport" (PDF) "Cold Marble/Hot Memories"
"Health Club Blues" "Me and My Migraines" "Another Day, Another Migraine"
"Passager Pandemic Diary" "The Bells" "Panic in Michigan"
"Finding My Voice at Sixty" (PDF) "Rushing to Berlin"  "Night Words" (PDF)
"The Tangled History of My Beard" "Out/Write Memories" (PDF) "London Healing" (PDF)
"What Do Writers Need?  Sitzfleisch!" "Bike Shame/Bike Love/Bike Joy" "Portrait of a Lady"
"The Bells" (reprint) "Unexpected Journey" "House of Pain"
"My Jesus Hair" (PDF) "Mother Museum" (PDF) "Henry James Told Me Who I Was"
"Good Morning, Migraine" (PDF) "Bridge of Dreams" (PDF) "Why Not Reject Your Rejections?"
"Teaching at a Toxic University" "If I Were Straight, I Would Never Have Learned How to Swim" (PDF) "On Fire" (PDF)
"Two Worlds" (PDF) "Musketeer" "Rendezvous in Bruxelles"
"How to Do a Killer Reading" "It's All Relative" (PDF) "My Mother's Abortion"
"So You've Been Invited to Do a Reading...." "My Jesus Hair" (reprint) "Me and the Musketeers"
"Voyages" "Free Man in London" "How to Handle Q&A at Your Reading"
"How Do You Find Your Titles?" "Words & Music" "I Had Jesus Hair"
"Listen to Your Mother, Damn It!" "I Had Jesus Hair" (reprint) "Welcome, New Professor!"
"My Brother is Toast" "Cold Marble/Hot Memories" (reprint) “Pancake Fantasy”
"Haunted?" (PDF) "Boom!" “If My Beard Could Talk”
"Words & Music" (PDF; reprint) "Plan B = Liberation" (PDF) "Dana Andrews Dream Suite"
"Bad Sex Blues" "Writing Queer Mysteries Changed My Life" (PDF) "Still Life With Pain"
"Streetwalker Stew" (PDF) "Russian Regrets" (PDF) "Writer off the Road"
"Ghost Call" (PDF) "The Zombies Didn't Get Me" "So My Mother Killed Stalin"
"My First House of Worship Was a Museum" "Honey from the Rock" "Notes from a Small Room"
 "Freaking Out in Florence" (PDF) "Rejection Doesn't Have to Hurt" "My Health Club Blues" (reprint)
"Are We Made of Dreams?"    

"Henry James Told Me Who I Was" (reprint), "Edith Wharton Changed My Life," "Jacob's Angel & Me"