Tammy Dietz: “Everything I Know I Learned from Shoplifting”

TAMMY DIETZ, nonfiction editor for Silk Road, is a writer, instructor, and instructional designer. Her work has appeared in various anthologies and literary journals including Bringing Light to Twilight, a critical examination of the Twilight book series, and The Legendary Online Journal. She lives with her husband and children near Seattle.

Her nonfiction piece “Everything I Know I Learned from Shoplifting” appears in bioStories.

I’ve always wanted to write about my experiences as a shoplifter, but I’ve avoided the subject for both obvious and less obvious reasons. Obvious: It’s a little embarassing. Less obvious: I didn’t know how to do it and I held no interest in writing a self-indulgent, preachy confessional. The truth is, I’m not proud of being a thief as a child and young adult. But I don’t think my experience is unique (just a hunch) and for me, it took exploration of this morally questionable terrain to develop a sense of responsibility about it. There is something very American (where fortune favors the brave) about my experience, and when I found that angle, I also found the heart of the story.