By Larry Grard

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FREEPORT – Melissa Coleman of Freeport is among the published Maine authors who have worked with Freeport High School students in Lisa Blier’s creative writing classes. In November, she worked with students and talked about her memoir, “This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family’s Heartbreak.” It tells the story of her childhood growing up on the fringes of society in Harborside on a Maine farm in the 1970s. She subsequently moved to Topsfield, Mass., San Francisco and Vermont before coming to Freeport. She attended the University of Vermont.

Coleman, 44, and her husband, Eric, moved to Freeport from Colorado in 2002. Their twin daughters attend Mast Landing School in Freeport. He is an alpine ski coach at Gould Academy.

Recently, she took the time to talk about her writing, and her interest in working with students.

Q: Do you get to schools often? What do you speak to students about, and what kind of an experience is this for you?

A: Some of my favorite events have been at schools and I love to talk with young writers. When I was on the board of The Telling Room, a Portland center for young writers aged 6-18, I joined a panel of memoirists to talk about our different experiences with memoir to 500 students at Deering High School. Recently, I spoke to the creative writing program students at University of Maine Farmington about how the things we struggle with in life can be transformed through writing, both within ourselves and on the page. I very much enjoyed meeting with Lisa Blier’s creative writing class at Freeport High School. They were an extraordinary group, and I loved the chance to hear my daughter’s third-grade class read their own stories aloud, with Mrs. Goddard at Mast Landing School.

Q: What’s the best way to get young people interested in writing?

A: For me, it was realizing that writing could help me to sort things out in my own life, whether by writing about something true until I found peace with it, or by working the same emotions out in an imaginary world.

Q: When and how did you become involved in writing?

A: Growing up without electricity meant no television or other forms of entertainment, so I turned to books and soon began to write my own stories around age 8. I went on to find I was much better at English than math in high school, and decided to major in English in college and got a job after as a magazine editor.

Q: What are your published works, and what best describes your writing style?

A: I mostly write nonfiction. I’ve written a memoir, “This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family’s Heartbreak,” about my back-to-the-land childhood with my dad, Eliot Coleman, a much-loved organic farming expert, and Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of the simple living guide, “Living the Good Life.” I’m also a columnist at Maine Home + Design magazine and my writing has appeared in Maine magazine, O, the Oprah Magazine, and many other publications, and I have a blog called Bright-Minded Home, about energy-efficient buildings.

Q: What about writing do you enjoy the most?

A: I love the things I learn from writing, whether by doing research on a topic I’m writing about, or from hearing what the wiser writer part of my brain, a part of the brain I believe everyone can access if they try, has to say about a topic.

Q: Would you say you’re a creative person by nature?

A: My husband would say so, and he thinks I’m nuts, but he puts up with me anyway.

“Some of my favorite events have been at schools and I love to talk with young writers,” says Melissa Coleman of Freeport, author of a memoir, “This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family’s Heartbreak.”  


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