“Writing At the End of Words: A Daughter's Memoir was never a choice for me, but a necessity,” says Miriam Stone. “To surrender to words and the power of creativity was to allow myself to heal.”
A freshman at Columbia when she began work on At the End of Words, Miriam Stone was already a published writer before graduating from high school. Three of her poems, written when she was fifteen and sixteen, appear in Betsy Franco's acclaimed anthology Things I Have to Tell You: Poems and Writing by Teenage Girls. Shortly after Miriam started her senior year of high school, she learned that her mother, who had been battling cancer for several years, had taken a turn for the worse. “I was filled with a great desire to talk to her and to others in my family, but the idea that her illness, and probable death, were a reality, was something I couldn't face,” the author says. “I chose to use writing instead as a way of expressing what was most difficult to say: that I was afraid I would never be able to talk to her again.”
Miriam Stone's mother died that spring. When the author started college in the fall, she felt compelled to organize her writing and generate new material, with the aim of creating a cohesive piece about her late mother and her own year of grief and self-discovery. “I always envisioned it as a book, but I didn't necessarily envision getting it published,” she says. “I just thought it was something I really wanted to do for myself.” After a year and half of writing and self-editing, Miriam Stone sent her manuscript to anthologist Betsy Franco. “Miriam was meant to be a writer,” Betsy Franco says. “The writing in her book is very pure, very straightforward. She could have gone over the top, but she didn't. She lets you get very close, but she keeps enough distance that the work is extremely moving.” Editors at Candlewick Press agreed. At the End of Words, combining raw journal entries and poems, was published just in time to mark the author's college graduation.
“I don't know who I would be right now if I hadn't written this book,” Miriam Stone admits. “Through writing it, I was able to come to terms with many of the conflicts in my life as well as to begin to heal. It also gave me the opportunity to create a memorial to my mother through words and ideas. Literature was extremely important to her, and I think that there is no tribute to her more fitting than a work of literature written in her honor. I also hope that this book can be a positive voice and a step in the healing process for any reader who has experienced loss.”
Miriam Stone grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Columbia University in May 2003 with a degree in creative writing and anthropology. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works as a freelance writer and editor.