October 2022 Program

Research and the Writing Process

Quite often, regardless of genre, we need to research. Sometimes research is the impetus for the writing itself. And as writers, we have to balance the fact and art, the known and unknowable, the concrete and the imagined. In this month’s program, presenter Melissa Helton explores the research and writing process for her current manuscript about her family’s history of immigration and its broader implications.

Melissa had 6 waves of immigrants from 1635 to her own father in 1961 who crossed the Atlantic to set up life in the US. While researching genealogy with her mother, she began questioning the concept of home, belonging, and identity, along with interrogating her family’s role in colonization, genocide, and American expansion as they personally benefitted from white supremacy. Her manuscript examines loss of ancestral culture for the sake of Americanization, and our responsibility to our ancestors and future generations. 

About the Presenter

Melissa Helton is Community Programs Manager for Hindman Settlement School in eastern KY. Her work has been published in Shenandoah, Norwegian Writers Climate Campaign, Still: The Journal, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and more. Her chapbooks include Hewn (2021) and Inertia: A Study (2016).

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