Photo Credit Oiselle Ryan Warner

Lidia Yuknavitch & Laurie Wagner

The Braided Essay

Please join me in welcoming the very talented writer and teacher, Lidia Yuknavitch, author of the widely acclaimed memoir, The Chronology of Water, and the National Bestselling novels, The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children.

She is also known for her TED talk “The Beauty of Being a Misfit”, which has been viewed over 4.3 million times, and her follow-up book The Misfit’s Manifesto (2017).

Lidia is one of the most gifted teachers and writers I know, and during our time together she’ll talk to us about the braided essay – a lyrical style of writing that is the heartbeat of her work, and which is especially complimentary to the writing we’re doing in Wild Writing.

In the braided essay, separate storylines are woven together to tell a larger tale. Think of challah, a braided bread that Jews eat on the Sabbath, and which is made from three separate strands of dough woven together to create one loaf. In the braided essay, those three strands represent three different stories that might seem separate, but when woven together bring a more complex and unique flavor to the larger story.

During our session, Lidia will teach from her own braided essays, and show us how to create our own narrative braids. If you have an important story to tell, and you sense there are many pieces, the narrative braid is going to infuse your work with creative possibility. You will leave this class with ideas on where to find the braids in your own work and how to get going.

The narrative braid is a great lyric form for:

  • Weaving the personal with the political (Jo Ann Beard The Fourth State of Matter).
  • When you find history bumping up against personal experience (Eula Biss, Time And Distance Overcome).
  • Exploring multiplicity of voice or polyphonic storytelling.
  • Developing layered storytelling that carries more than one time and place.
  • Opening up experiences, images, places, and history to multiple meanings.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness and power of repletion, echo, and the ways in which experience and storytelling already have many strands.
  • Holding open questions rather than resolving – Some experiences make you feel like there are many versions. Narrative braids are phenomenal exploratory forms for feeling them (Amy Hempel The Harvest and In the Cemetary where Al Jolson is Buried).
Lidia Yuknavitch

Lidia Yuknavitch

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the short story collection Verge (Riverhead Books), the novels Thrust (Riverhead Books), The Book of Joan (Harper Books), The Small Backs of Children (Harper Books), and Dora: A Headcase (Hawthorne Books), and the anti-memoir The Chronology of Water (Hawthorne Books). Her TED Talk “On the Beauty of Being a Misfit” has received over 4.3 million views, and spawned The Misfit Manifesto (TED Books/Simon and Schuster). She lives and collaborates in Portland, Oregon at Corporeal Writing, and where she teaches both in person and online. She received her doctorate in Literature from the University of Oregon. She lives in Oregon with her husband Andy Mingo and their renaissance man son, Miles.

Visit Lidia online at –

Live Online :: Lidia Yuknavitch & Laurie Wagner

This is the video replay of the live May 2023 class.

I’m excited to be partnering with Chapter 510, a nonprofit group in Oakland serving black, brown, and queer kids, ages 7- 18. Chapter 510 is a writing, bookmaking & publishing center that wants every young person in Oakland to write with confidence and joy. Chapter 510 believes that writing is an act of liberation, and that young people transform themselves and their communities when they write and get published, succeeding in work, school, and life. A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to supporting their free creative writing programs for black, brown, and queer youth.