Today is the day when bold kites fly,
When cumulus clouds roar across the sky.
Today is the day when daffodils bloom,
Today is the day when grasses green,
It is not quite spring, but here and there in California the sun begins to warm the earth, inviting crocuses and daffodils to bloom. The mockingbirds, that I love, have returned to singing madly on top of the telephone poles and trees outside my house, and even my roses began to bloom again during that warm spell last month.
This is a glorious time of year, when winter still rules, but spring makes her promises. New growth is everywhere. This kind of weather feeds our creativity. The inner seeds we have planted come into flower.
It’s good time to enter our stories. Stories seem to have a life of their own, bursting into new bloom even when we think the story is dead or tired. Many writers harvest seedlings from old stories and breathe new life into them.
Lives intensely lived provide us with a bottomless well from which to draw. Stories are like magic, they come to us on a fleeting image or a brief remembered scent. The writers I teach tell me they start with a hint of a feeling, a tiny image or a smell, and from that cue, begin to write. The story seems to take over from that point, creating pathways and memories that the writer was not aware of until sitting down to listen to the small hints arising from the deep. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to take the time to attune ourselves to these tiny clues.
Everyone wants to know how to manage the tough, darker stories and they want to have choice about what they write about. You know how it is—you put your hand to the paper and flowing from your pen comes some surprises! Yet, you would like to heal the past and hope that getting the stories out of you that have been hidden in the dark for so long might help. You can write any kind of story and still find healing. Even the research backs this up: positive, light stories were found to be as healing as dark stories.
As memoirists, we often find ourselves needing to make choices about what path we will enter, whether to go with the light or the dark stories. The more painful stories can just bring us down too much.
All writing is healing.
Dr. James Pennebaker in his “traumatic writing” studies asked people to write about another person’s trauma, a made-up story about someone else. These fictionalized stories were found to be healing too.
Self-expression through writing has been found to be more helpful in healing trauma than other forms of art, even dance or painting. Perhaps the particular memory being expressed needed the integrative power of words to put it to rest, or certain people in the study responded to using words more than others.
It is Spring, and a writer’s fancy turns to: Writing! And to all creation.
Enjoy marching into Spring!
Being in the space you create has helped me a LOT. I find that I’m getting braver and braver. Sometimes I think: what the hell, might as well say it, what’s there to hide or protect? No matter how difficult it seems, after I write it / read it / share it, I discover that the telling of it blows it wide open. There’s no going back to the closed-in, closed-up feeling of “nursing” the wound in my own little corner.
– Lily Endlich
In honor of women, women’s rights, and personal stories about half the population, we turn our attention to the stories and moments that shaped women’s lives. If you are a man, write about your wife, mother, or daughter using these prompts.
Write for 5-20 minutes on each idea. Save the vignettes to assemble later.
Thursday Night Women’s Circle
New Group Starts in April!
Saturday Spiritual Autobiography and Memoir Circle
Being witnessed to by all the group as I read my stories is one of the most powerful writing methods I’ve ever known. Linda knows how to provide a writing atmosphere that nurtures each one in the group. Non-competitive, only support and non-judgmental acceptance flows. – Allene Hickox
Memoir Writing Retreat with Linda Joy Myers
April 4-6, 2008
Calistoga, California (in the Napa Valley)
Our annual Body and Soul spring writing retreat in Napa Valley is in the wine country with its beautiful views, world famous wine, and mud baths. The weekend retreat gives you an opportunity to relax in a lovely place, and to join other writers for a weekend of story writing, sharing wisdom, and learning new tools to take away with you.
Have you been thinking of writing your memoir, but don’t know where to begin?
Are you confused about where to start, worried whether your family will get angry at you, and how much truth to tell?
Do you need more support, inspiration, and information about how to write a memoir?
The National Association of Memoir Writers can help you on your writing journey. There is a growing national and international memoir community where writers need support in solving the difficult questions about how to write a memoir, how to have a successful writing life and habits, and finding the path to successful publication.
This new membership organization will be launching in May, 2008 but there is a pre-launch special program that you will hear about soon—as soon as the website is up and launched.
If you join at the special pre-launch price, you can participate right away in some of the benefits that will be offered only to the members of NAMW.
Contests and Publications
Entering contests is a good way to push your writing skills and hone your work. There are literally hundreds of venues where you can enter your work. Use Google to surf the web for sites that are looking for publications and lists of contests.
Journal 2008 The Power of Writing Conference
June 18-22, 2008
Another mentor on my path of learning about the healing power of writing has been Kathleen Adams, founder of Journal Therapy and the author of several books focusing on the therapeutic power of writing. Kay teaches classes, retreats, and workshops for therapists and for writers nationally, and my interview with her about the healing power of writing is on my website for audio download.
In June, 2008, Kathleen is hosting the first ever conference on writing as healing—Journal Conference 2008—The Power of Writing. This conference brings together the important people in the therapeutic, memoir, spiritual autobiography world such as Dr. James Pennebaker, Christina Baldwin, Tristine Rainier, and Kathleen Adams—four of the leading thinkers and theorists in the field of therapeutic writing headline a faculty of 40.
Six mix-and-match tracks (Writing, Therapy, Healing/Wellness, Memoir/Life Story, Spirituality, and Writing in Community) allow a fully customizable conference experience. Special guest appearances by award-winning poet Michael Blumenthal and creative arts therapies troupe MUSE. Continuing education hours are available!
Questions? Call (888) 421-2298 (in Colorado or from cell phone: (303) 986-6460)
East of Eden Writing Conference
September 5-7, 2008
East of Eden Memoir workshop
Linda Joy Myers and Phyllis Mattson
Write Your Memoir and Still Be Invited Home for the Holidays: Handling Secrets, Lies and Scandals
Develop a powerful support system for women writers only. The National Association of Women Writers is a forum where you can network with women writers from all over the world. Get our free eReport, 101 Best Resources for Writers for free!
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