For the next few weeks, as we approach the April 8th release of A Family by Any Other Name, I’d like to introduce you to some of the book’s contributors.
Keph Senett is a writer based in Toronto. Her essay is called “Requiem.”
How did you find out about this project?
The call for submissions was forwarded by a friend with a note that said something like, “You must have a story for this!”
Why did you decide to contribute? How did you decide what to write about?
My friend was right. The topic gave me the perfect excuse to mine the vein of my relationship with my mother. I frequently tell stories about her at dinner parties (a part of me supposes that’s why I keep getting invited back) but this was the chance to treat the subject with a bit more precision in language and emotion.
Tell us a bit about yourself, both your life and your writing experience.
I’ve been writing all my life, but its really only in the past several years that I’ve resolved to carve out a career-sized space for it. I’m also an activist, which doesn’t pay, but travel writing does. Journalism does. So I do my best to fund my activism by working in those markets. This piece is a bit different, though. This one is intensely personal.
Did writing about your own experiences prove challenging in any way?
It’s challenging to lay yourself bare, though that’s a part of the work that I ultimately enjoy, but I was afraid of hurting feelings. Both of my parents are alive, and they are both in this piece. It was an enormous relief when my mother saw the essay. She said it made her laugh — and cry — and I was free to send it out with her blessings.
What did you get out of writing an essay for this collection?
The impetus to pick apart some of my more complicated feelings was a gift. It’s hard to make time for that, and this process legitimized the effort.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like readers to know about?
I have a bunch of projects on the go, but nothing I can talk about yet.