Donna Lynn Marsh
I was born a writer, always studying a world ripe for interpretation.
Freud said, "Dreams are the protectors of sleep." He told us that our dreams are the substance of deep desire and must be, only by the dreamer, interpreted.
I believe the same is true of lived, awakened experiences,
the experiences of everyday life.
That's why I write creative nonfiction,
to discover in what is, the substance of what always was.
And to be sure to preserve what always must be.
On September 11th, 2001 I was born into a new existence. Before that day I had three children.
On that day I became the mother of two young boys, and the mother, still, of a spirit, a young woman, Vanessa, my baby girl, who will always be twenty nine,
save for my dreams...
Before that day, I was the mother of three. My writing held the DNA of my children and the DNA of my elders.
After 9/11/2001, I am the writer, always working to bring my baby girl back to life,
if only on the page.
The photo to the left is one taken on her last visit home. She told me that day, "You better be a good grandmother."
The photo to the right is one of my favorites of her. She was in her late teens and it is one of the few of her without makeup.
Curiously, I wrote a book in the late 90s, The Half Life of America's Children
(which later became The Half Life of Solomon's Children). It has a strange and winding journey to "failure to publish." To read more about this, click below.
If my daughter and many others lost their lives suddenly on 9/11/2001, America, both the geographic space and the idea have been dying more slowly.
But as with any disease, America's ailment progresses at an inconsistent rate, first the incubation, then the symptoms of toxicity,
and then a more virulent and forceful decline.
To write about my family is to write about my country,
and to see what was always true--
America was built on the backs of those who were never invited to partake of the glorious myths. To write America is to be willing to know the depths of wrong that are woven into the fabric. And to be willing and ready to correct.
1984 to 2017
I taught writing and rhetoric at
I was my own most eager student.
Not really a resume
1984 to 2001
I wrote fiction, mostly amateurish attempts, though I published
"Sarah Aufhauser's Daughter"
In the Great River Review.
2001 to Present or
The Second Half
I live to write, to eat, to love.
And love includes being a devoted mommy to two grown men, James and Jackson O'Connor, and a Yorkie Bichon, a funny and adoring partner to my husband Robert O'Connor, and a best friend to my sister Robin who appears in much of my life and writing as a kind of grounding side-kick (and you can reverse that, too, because I am that for her). Born into the religion of Yankee baseball (my Grandpa Hy and my dad insisted), I was? am? always will be? owned by the New Orleans Saints. If I am buried when I die, the fleur de lis will certainly say so much on my headstone. My dog, Landeaux or Lando (spelled differently during football season) is always at my side.
Currently at work on three books and several essays on themes that strike me as significant, I write about my family, my dogs, my country, my fellow citizens who also eat and love, and whose loves and lives are threatened by oppression.
I have published many essays over the decade and a half about the need for peace in the post 9/11 world, about forgiveness, and justice.
The three books:
Reaching for the Pearl
This is a series of interconnected essays that tell the story of the losses of my daughter and country. Some of these essays have been published. (Click below on my portfolio to see a link to my annotated bibliography where you will find three of the essays from this collection.)
My Life in Dogs (Working Title)
I have asthma. Serious, often debilitating asthma, and I was never going to have another dog again. But in July of 2001 I had a dream. In it, I had a dog, a golden retriever;
I woke up to the lingering aura of the dream.
When my daughter left earth on 9/11, she left me broken, and she left behind her dog, Skyelight,
the only being on earth who felt precisely what I did.
This is book is the story of the dogs that took me past Ground Zero. It is a linear narrativeAnd it is, of course, a love story about Landeaux.
The Half Life of Solomon's Children
This is a book of interconnected essays written in the late 90s. (Click Read More (above) to hear about the story of this book.)