Frequently Asked Questions
Kassi answers common questions about her book, writing, MFA programs, her events, abortion, and drinking.
Where can I buy your memoir, May Cause Love?
Thank you so much for asking. May Cause Love in available everywhere books are sold. Click to order your copy:
I'm pregnant and not sure what to choose. What do I do?
Somewhere inside, you have already made your choice.
If you would like support, I hope you'll find the following information helpful:
- Fill out the Pregnancy Options Workbook, an excellent free resource that can help you make the decision. Click here.
- Call Backline, a toll-free and nonjudgmental hotline with peer counselors. Visit: https://www.yourbackline.org. Call: 1-888-493-0092.
- Talk with a friend or a mentor who does not act like they already know what you should do.
- If you are religious, follow a spiritual path, or come from a regional value system (like Southern, Midwestern, etc), talk to a person who shares your background and can listen to you and ask questions without an agenda. You might ask a priest, rabbi, monk, imam, a school counselor, or a college counselor. You can also call Faith Aloud: http://www.faithaloud.org. Faith Aloud is a free abortion and pregnancy options support talkline. You can speak with compassionate clergy from a variety of religions, including Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Unitarian-Universalism, Protestant Christianity, and Buddhism. To quote the website, "We understand that life gets complicated and that good people find themselves in challenging situations." Call 1-888-717-5010 to make an appointment.
- Careful: some places advertised as "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" have been known to provide misleading information, such as offering free ultrasounds and then telling the client her pregnancy is further along than it truly is. These venues operate by other names, as well. No matter who is giving you the information, if something feels off, listen to that. I know people who have walked out of Crisis Pregnancy Centers and had an abortion. I also know people who have walked out of abortion clinics and had a child instead. They all turned out okay.
- Do you pray? If you're not into prayer, ignore this next part. If you are into prayer or want to try it, here's a prayer I use all the time: "Please reveal the decision that will give me complete peace of mind and do the most good for the most people—and please make the answer so obvious that I can't possibly miss it." Feel free to borrow my God, also known as The Universe and Love. God completely understands your situation and wants you to feel happy and equipped to move forward with your decision in peace, whatever that decision might be. Love does not force you to do anything that doesn't feel right.
I've had an abortion. Is there anyone I can talk to about it?
Yes. Whether you had an abortion seven minutes or seventy-seven years ago, you can call Exhale, an award-winning nonjudgmental talkline for people who have experienced abortion and their loved ones: 1-866-4-EXHALE. Translation: 1-866-439-4253
Visit exhaleprovoice.org for hours.
Exhale is not political or religious (though the counselors will listen if you want to talk about religion, spirituality, and/or politics). Counseling is available in Español, 廣東話, 國語, tiếng Việt, Tagalog.
You can also call Backline, a peer hotline for people to call during a pregnancy, before and after abortion, and to talk about parenting, adoption, pregnancy loss, and infertility: 1-888-493-0092
I've had an abortion and I feel alone. I really need to connect with someone who's actually had an abortion and knows something about what this feels like. How do I meet people who share my experience?
- In 2017, I am holding a weekend-long seminar for people who have experienced abortion. Want to come? Join the email list and I'll keep you posted.
- Talk about it. Do not be discouraged if you receive negative feedback. It can be tempting to take it personally, but don't. Do not intentionally tell someone who has already given you context clues that they cannot hear you with compassion. Just keep sharing with love and generosity. Be on a mission to make sure no woman who has had an abortion ever feels alone again. Haters will have no effect on you.
My friend had an abortion and isn't doing well. Can I tell them to contact you and will you help them?
You are a very good friend. Please send them my love. Here are some options:
2. For a limited time, I'm providing coaching for people who have experienced abortion. Click HERE to book an appointment.
3. Your friend can call Exhale, a free talkline for people who have experienced abortion and their loved ones: 1-866-439-4253
Exhale also serves friends and family of people who have experienced abortion. You can call Exhale, too, so that you can have support.
5. Your friend can also find private, nonjudgmental groups for people who have experienced abortion on Facebook.
Let your friend feel what they need to feel. Listen to them without trying to fix it or rushing them to feel better. Your presence is enough.
It goes without saying that if your friend (or anyone you know) is thinking of hurting themselves, dial 911.
How did you heal after your abortion?
It's a long story. About 340 pages long. In my memoir, May Cause Love, I chronicle the story of how I healed.
Are you speaking soon in my town?
I hope so. Please check my events site for upcoming speaking events.
Will you speak at my event, conference, college, or religious community?
Thank you so much for thinking of me.
Please navigate to the page titled Speaking for information about my speaking experience and topics.
Do you have a newsletter?
You bet. Join my email list. Click the red button at the bottom of this page.
Should I pursue an MFA in creative writing? Should I go to Columbia's program? Is it worth the debt? Does the degree mean anything?
The MFA was worth the debt for me. I made lifelong writer friends whom I couldn't imagine my life without (including my husband), taught wonderful undergraduate writers for three years, took very seriously my purpose to write a book, and had an agent by the time I left. I acquainted myself with the literary community and with literature in general. Even though I had a fellowship and a stipend for two years, I left the program with an epic mound of student debt. Together, my husband and I could have purchased a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan or a six-bedroom palace in Arizona with that kind of money. We wrote instead. Our monthly student loan bills are now higher than the monthly rent we paid in Queens, but we have a surplus of other good things in life. And we still write.
During the MFA, I made the mistake of trying to please everyone in workshop and destroyed my natural instinct for creative writing--see George Saunders' essay in The New Yorker, the most perfect encapsulation of the MFA's effect on writing ever recorded--but producing pages and pages of work, every single week, demystified the writing process. The MFA provides a good structured environment to make writing your main thing. I developed a serious commitment to my writing at Columbia. I built a wall of defense around my work. I learned how to tell people that I was not available because I was working, even if they did not consider writing to be "work" because I wasn't getting "paid."
Weigh the costs and benefits of taking on an MFA based on what matters most to you and what you know about yourself: your process for achieving goals, how much structure you need, how badly you want to be a writer and in what capacity, and how you will realistically be able to become the writer you dream of becoming.
Maybe you already write on a consistent schedule and do not need the structure of an MFA program. Maybe you already have a few trusted readers and a community of writers and no desire to teach. Maybe the MFA would be a waste of your time. Some of my favorite writers did not earn an MFA.
Or maybe debt would kill your creativity and you need to go to a program where you can write without worrying about money. Maybe you'll apply to 30 funded programs and end up in the middle of nowhere with your pen.
But maybe you want to go to Columbia. Is it worth the debt to buy this time to write and form a writing community and work under the tutelage of phenomenal professors and live in a dungeon in New York City and get broken down and built up and broken down and built up? If the answer is yes, then go. Shake down that program for every last fruit.
And no, the degree does not mean anything. But neither does the debt.
I want to write a book. How do I start?
Cover pages with words. Write from the gut. Be your weird self. Write what you'd want to read.
Some people write a book in three weeks. Some people write a book over the course of three decades. Each book designs its own process. If it's not writing itself, stop writing. Do the laundry. Begin again later.
How did you publish your essay in the New York Times Modern Love column?
I penned an essay of about 1700 words, revised heavily, and then sent it to the email address listed on the NYT Modern Love website.
Will you read my essay/book/story and give me feedback?
Unfortunately, my schedule does not allow me to comment on individual work. (I make exceptions for friends.)
I hope you have a ball during the writing process. If you submit your work and get rejected, submit again. Get rejected a thousand times. If you are meant to be a writer, nobody can stop you. They won't be able to. You'll just keep writing. We need good, thoughtful, meaningful writers right now.
If you would like to attend a writing workshop, please check the Events page for listings.
How does someone know they're an alcoholic?
From what I understand, it is self-diagnosed, which means this "someone" must decide for themselves based on their experience and accurate information about alcoholism. A book titled Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as "The Big Book," lists two main clues and a few tests.
1. Someone who can't quit drinking entirely. Going to rehab doesn't make someone an alcoholic. Getting arrested doesn't make someone an alcoholic. The question is, after this someone graduates from rehab, can they stay sober and reasonably calm without much help? Or, if they drink again, can they simultaneously control and enjoy their drinking? If someone can control and enjoy their drinking, all the time, without focusing on the amount of alcohol they are consuming, then they probably don't have a problem. The Big Book suggests a test: go to a bar and try to drink and stop abruptly. Try this more than once. How does it go? Enjoyable or not? If someone repeatedly promises to quit drinking and breaks that promise over and over again, if there always seems to be a reason to drink, it's worth exploring with a therapist or at a Twelve Step meeting. (Contact information for Alcoholics Anonymous below.)
2. Someone who can't consistently control the amount they drink. Say someone decides in the beginning of the night to have two drinks. Two drinks is the plan. But they stay out much later than intended or maybe wake up next to a stranger, and they're like, what language are they speaking? If someone can't predict with a reasonable degree of accuracy how much they will drink on a given night, it might be a problem.
Alcoholism is treatable, love. I am addicted to the treatment. I wish I got hooked in kindergarten, because it's some good shit. And I am madly in love with the worldwide community of ex-drunks.
If you came here to diagnose a family member or friend with alcoholism, then please check out the information for Al-Anon below. The best thing you can do to help a person struggling with alcohol or drug addiction is to take care of yourself and develop a healthy relationship with them that is not based on their addiction. If that seems impossible, Al-Anon can help.
Al-Anon. Visit http://www.al-anon.alateen.org. Al-Anon is a twelve-step-based support group for friends and family of problem drinkers and people struggling with addiction. Click HERE to find an Al-Anon meeting near you.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255.
Veterans Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224. If you are experiencing abuse or think you might be experiencing abuse, please call this number.
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline Telephone and email peer-counseling, as well as factual information and local resources for cities and towns across the United States. 1-888-843-4564
Coaching with Kassi, click HERE for information.
Exhale, a free non-political, non-religious talkline for people who have experienced abortion and their loved ones: 1-866-439-4253
Backline, a peer hotline for people to call during a pregnancy, before and after abortion, and to talk about parenting, adoption, pregnancy loss, and infertility: 1-888-493-0092
Rabbi Rayzel Raphael, customized Jewish rituals for abortion and other life events (as seen in MAY CAUSE LOVE!).