"There’s a story in this somewhere…"
— Lisa Belkin
If I were ever to write a memoir , which I never would, because there are so many more interesting things to write about, that’s what its title would be. It’s the one friends chose long ago when we played that “what would you call your autobiography?” parlor game (the one that comes after “who would play you in the movie of your life?” Answer: Cate Blanchett, please.)
My friends know me well. I do say that a lot, whenever I hear that click in my brain of a new idea juxtaposing with an old assumption and rolling around in a confection of unexplored possibility. I have always looked at my world as strings of stories. Some jump out and announce themselves, others shyly wait to be discovered. The best ones make the reader say one of two things — “I never thought of that,” or “that’s exactly what I thought, but didn’t realize anyone else did.”
How lucky am I that I’ve had such remarkable places to tell stories. More than twenty years at the New York Times, with titles that varied from national correspondent (based in Houston), to medical reporter (back in NYC), to the New York Times Magazine, where my most cherished description was when an editor declared my beat was “the social conscience of our times.” She was nominating me for a great big prize that I didn’t win, but that compliment was its own kind of reward. Also at the Times I got to coin the phrase “the Opt-Out revolution,” and create the Life’s Work column and the Motherlode blog.
Next, HuffPost, where I reported and opined about life, work and family. A few people started calling me a parenting expert, which my two sons found utterly amusing. Then at Yahoo News, where we tried, for a while, to prove that people will seek out (lengthy!) quality journalism online.
In and around all that I authored four books — Genealogy of a Murder, Life’s Work: Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom, First, Do No Harm and Show Me a Hero (which… drumroll and cymbals here please…was made into the Golden Globe winning HBO series by the same name) — and edited two anthologies. There was a radio show — “Life’s Work with Lisa Belkin”, on XM Radio as well as a regular contributor to Public Radio’s The Takeaway and NBC’s Today Show.
I graduated from Princeton University where they let me return as a visiting professor in the Humanities Council, teaching narrative non-fiction as an instrument of social change. I discovered I loved teaching, and I do it regularly now at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. It is as much a joy sharing stories with students, I have learned, as with readers.
This website is a home for all the stories I have told, and the ones I have yet to tell. It is a place for conversation with readers, for musing on thoughts still taking shape, a perch from which to comment on the world. Thing about telling stories? They are nothing but words until someone hears, understands, questions, replies.
Thanks for listening.
(If you would like to contact me for projects, please click here.)