Author will discuss writing as therapy at Ponte Vedra Writers meeting


People write memoirs for a variety of reasons: to preserve a family legacy, to gain insight into the past, or to heal from a traumatic experience. Chris Gabbard used a deeply felt personal loss when he wrote his memoir, and he’ll discuss his journey in his talk, “Transforming a Cry of Pain into a Compelling Narrative” at the Saturday, April 9, meeting of the FWA Ponte Vedra Writers group.

The meeting will start at 10 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Branch Library.

Gabbard, a professor of English at the University of North Florida, talks about his son August, who passed away at the age of 14, and how he used that tragedy to write “A Life Beyond Reason: A Disabled Boy and His Father's Enlightenment” (Beacon 2020).

Gabbard found that the first draft is meaningful for the writer but difficult for others to follow because it will be overwhelming.

“Writing can serve as a legitimate form of therapy, but to include readers and help them understand and want to keep reading, the events surrounding the loss must be parsed into a sequence of events that will have meaning for the reader as well as the writer,” he said.

He will discuss how he went about transforming his initial pain over his son's death into a narrative that others wanted to read.

Gabbard earned his doctorate at Stanford University in 1999 and since 2001 has taught at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. He teaches courses in British 18th-century literature, disability studies in the humanities, and creative nonfiction.

The Ponte Vedra Writers group is part of the Florida Writers Association, a statewide, nonprofit organization with nearly 1,500 members dedicated to the support of both aspiring and published writers in any genre.

The April 9 meeting is free and open to members and nonmembers alike. For information on FWA go to


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