Saved By Writing

I like to treat my writing as if it is work—even though it is work I love to do.

Madeline Sharples gets up early everyday, goes through her routine, and then gets down to business.

Right now I have a lot of work to do . . . so some days I am in my office [writing] for hours.

I caught up with Madeline, a fellow unFold contributor, via e-mail to discuss her life as a writer.

How long have you been writing?


I’ve been a writer of some sort since grade school, although I only began concentrating on creative writing in the mid 1990s. I wrote for my high school newspaper, studied journalism in college, and worked for years and years as a writer and editor on reports, brochures, and proposals, and most recently websites in the aerospace industry. I also have written many funded grant proposals. But creative writing is my love – especially poetry. That began almost spontaneously during a writing workshop at Esalen in Big Sur, CA, in the late 1990s, and I’ve been writing poetry ever since. After I finish getting my book ready for the publisher, I’ll resume work on a novel I began last February.


What is your favorite snack while writing?

Actually I don’t snack while I write. Sometimes I’ll have a cup of tea on my desk, but before I know it my tea is cold and I don’t want it any more. I do like to snack on almonds or a spoon of peanut butter (I’m a peanut butter freak) once in a while in the afternoon, but not while I’m writing.

Do you have a day job?

I retired from my day job at the end of April 2010 – perfect timing for this book-publishing contract. So, most of my creative writing in the last few years has been done in my spare time away from work. I spent over 28 years working in the aerospace business participating in the development of small, medium and major proposals. I trained proposal managers and teams in the proposal process used to create winning proposals. One of my favorite parts of my job was turning engineer-speak into the English language and making a proposal that was written by as many as a hundred people seem like it had only one author.

Madeline’s memoir tells her magnificent recovery after the death of her son in 1999.


I was 59 years old when my son, afflicted with bipolar disease, took his own life. Following an aftermath filled with guilt and grief, I made the decision to come out of that experience alive, whole, and productive. No, I didn’t get a divorce, I didn’t have a breakdown, I didn’t have an affair with a beautiful younger man, and I didn’t go into years of therapy. Instead I picked myself up and relearned how to live my life again. Now, eleven years later .… if I don’t write every day I get itchy.

Madeline Sharples is an essayist, poet, nonfiction writer, and most recently a novelist who lives in Manhattan Beach, CA. Recent poems can be found in Memoir (and), Perigee, unFold, the Survivor Chronicles, The Emerging Goddess, and The Great American Poetry Show. Her memoir LEAVING THE HALL LIGHT ON is forthcoming from Lucky Press LLC set for release on Mother’s Day 2011. To read some of her poems, please visit her blog at

What others are saying about LEAVING THE HALL LIGHT ON:

Leaving the Hall Light On is a nonfiction account of her and her family’s journey before and after the death of her son Paul in 1999. Madeline’s open-hearted, raw-yet-beautiful account of the before, during, and most-importantly after and the canvas that is her life will interest readers, especially those whose families were touched by suicide and mental illness. Interspersed throughout are her lovely poems. –Janice Phelps Williams

5 Comments on “Saved By Writing

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Saved By Writing | Folded Word --

  2. Madeline Sharples has written an honest book which will help anyone coping with bipolar disorder and suicide. As the mother of a suicide victim I found myself identifying with her experience. She is a talented writer and her poetry is beautiful.


  3. Pingback: Writing About Grief | National Association of Memoir Writers, NAMW

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