Mayborn workshop journalists Sanjana Reddy and Molly Chambers host guest speakers who discuss moments from the Literary Nonfiction Conference 2017.

Workshop students sat down with two panelists July 22 at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference to discuss why they decided to share deeply personal experiences with their audience through their writing. In his panel, Dallas Morning News reporter Jeffrey Weiss explained why he chose to write about living with glioblastoma cancer, while Sarah Hepola talked about publishing her struggles with alcoholism in her book “Blackout.” In the interviews, we explored the differences between how they define their boundaries between the public and private parts of their lives.

Columnist Jeffrey Weiss gave a moving lecture and provided us with an interview. Weiss was diagnosed with glioblastoma, and shares his story with the world, because he “believes that personal voice makes writing more engaging.” He’s not afraid of his future, as long as his positive legacy outlives both himself and the memory of himself. On Sunday, The Dallas Morning News Enterprise investigative team spoke about the multimedia story, “Aryan Princess.” During a one-on-one interview, writer Scott Farwell described the emotional aspect of his work and carefulness not to “fall in.”

Journalism students at the 2017 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference on July 22 engaged two featured panelists, Sarah Hepola and Alia Malek, in a discussion about prevalent issues surrounded by social stigmas and how to approach them in journalism. Both Malek and Hepola are familiar with covering uncomfortable topics with both grace and brutal honesty. Hepola wrote about her life and struggles as an alcoholic in her memoir, “Blackout,” while Malek’s most recent book, “The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria,” explores the culture and politics of Syria. Although these works couldn’t seem more different, they share a focus on topics that are difficult to talk about. In these interviews, Malek and Hepola talk about the complexities of writing about such topics.