Then followed that beautiful season…
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Wonderful Times at the Journal Conference in Denver!
I never liked flying over the Rockies before, but this time the plane was steady and whisked us up and over those small bumps and then spread out before us was the Great Plains, the high plains of western lore. Having grown up in Oklahoma, as many of you know, I relate strongly to landscape that spreads out in all directions, but seeing the majestic Rockies rise above all that land is quite a beautiful sight!
I plugged in my new Blackberry and listened to the music I had just learned to download as the shuttle took me to the hotel–Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell as the sun made the sky pink.
Then I was at the top of the sky with Denver framed in the windows as I joined the party already in progress–people from Ireland, England, Canada, and all over the United States.
There I met and talked to some of the 400 people who eagerly came to the conference. We all shared our love journal writing, memoirs, poetry, and writing to heal and advance consciousness. Some of the women I spoke to–it was 95% women there–said they had felt alone in their passion to and were amazed and blown away to be with so many others with the same passion. Lots of glowing happy faces. Not all of us are blessed to live in areas where we are supported in our writing passion.
Nothing can describe adequately the feeling of amazement and happiness for me of seeing several of my heroes in this field on the stage at once: Dr. James Pennebaker–he likes to be called “Jamie”; Christina Baldwin; Kay Adams, and Tristine Rainer, together talking about writing, healing, spiritual autobiography, personal stories and what happens when we break open these hidden subjects.
They talked about how writing changes the world, story making changes the world. That we are fully connected and supported in our vision of the way the world should be. I think many of us were a little dizzy from the beauty of what was said and held in the room and in the breakout workshops.
Tristine’s keynote was about her relationship with Anais Nin and the development of her diaries over time; Dr. Pennebaker presented the research about writing and healing, and confirms the studies that have been done in the last few years as holding up well– affirming that writing personal stories with depth and meaning for 15 minutes three times a week makes a health difference. He also says that studies show that writing positive stories are almost as healing, and writing fictional stories are as well. So break out the fiction!
Christina Baldwin wove a spell around us with a fabulous slide show of many well known writers, their faces and names already etched upon our hearts. Sighs and tears spread throughout the room as we encountered in these moments those who have inspired us and kept us going with their work throughout our lives. She talked about all of us needing to be StoryCatchers– her new book, and that stories make the world. This concept is one many of us already hold dear, but she is putting it out there in her talk and in the buttons she sold–so invite everyone to hold stories for everyone else, no matter where we are–at the airport, in a car, on the street.
Kay Adams as always was wonderful, gracious and breaking new ground with this event. She wove together the ideas and feelings of the conference in her keynote on the last morning and facilitated a group poem to capture the conference in words.
I come back supported fully and happy that I made so many new friends, inspired by the idea that my teaching work is necessary and important, one person at a time.
That is my story about the conference. There are many moments and insights that are hard to capture. My talk about Lies, Secrets and Scandals went well. We shared how the inner and outer critics get in people’s way and people appreciated getting support about that subject. Most of the room raised their hands when I asked if they were writing something they had serious concerns about with their families.
Harvesting Our Wisdom- Writing Retreat
Napa Valley, California | November 7-9, 2008
This retreat offers a chance to immerse yourself in your thoughts and ideas, and explore your deepest being. Whether you write memoir, or fiction, our retreat gives you time to focus on yourself and capture the stories that have shaped you. Click here for more.
Listening to the Muse
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web. –Pablo Picasso
Within us are worlds of creativity and passion, though the light may seem dim in the constant stream of busy-ness and responsibility. But if you are interested in writing, chances are your secret self has been writing, and reading, for a very long time. There has been a voice, a force that you have been listening to and it is demanding your attention. That is another definition of the Muse.
- Write about your desire to write.
- What is your favorite memory of early childhood? When you were 10; 15?
- How long have you written and what kind of writing?
- Were you a reader as a child? Write about what reading gave you.
- What have you written that you enjoyed creating?
- List five stories that show the essence of who you are.
- Who has helped you to develop your creativity?
New Teleseminars for NAMW
I am happy to announce that we have booked teleseminars all the way through January 2009 for NAMW. We are busy finding new experts to address subjects important to memoir writers for a whole new year of creativity and writing. As we grow each month, members tell us they enjoy the monthly teleseminars, a chance to connect with real live people on the phone and learn something new about memoir writing too.
Writing Your Family Memoir: Linda Joy Myers
August 21, 2008 | 11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Writing a family memoir is a wonderful way to gift your family with a legacy they will always treasure. However, family memoir writers have many questions and arrive at the task with a feeling of responsibility and even worry to the project.
Family memoir writers have questions like these:
- What do I do about the stories the family does not want me to write?
- How do I deal with the problem of everyone having a different memory of events; what about the family myths and downright lies–I would like to leave a truthful and favorable document.
- Who decides what the final draft will be?
- What about using real names vs. pseudonyms?
- How do I start?
- How should it be structured?
These and other questions will be discussed. Matilda Butler, owner of womensmemoirs.com and author of Rosie’s Daughters will interview Linda this month, and in September Linda will interview Matilda about writing a collective memoir.
Here is the list of speakers for 2008:
September 18 Matilda Butler – Writing the Collective Memoir
Matilda Butler will talk to us about the collective memoir, a weaving together of different threads of stories written by many different people. Matilda will draw upon her own experience writing Rosie’s Daughters, the compilation of over 100 stories by women she interviewed interspersed with archival photographs and published memoirs to create a tapestry of voices that deepen our understanding of how women’s lives changed and evolved since WWII. www.womensmemoirs.com
October 16 Martha Alderson – Plot for Memoir Writers
Marta Alderson, author of Blockbuster Plots, will help memoir writers learn about the backbone of a book – its structure – and the kinds of tools that help create a vibrant and publishable memoir. www.blockbusterplots.com
November 13 Denis LeDoux – Memoir Writing as Myth Making/Meaning Making
When we write memoir, we necessarily select to write this rather than that (not being able to include all). This selective detailing inevitably produces a fiction, but a fiction that is attempting to be true to a lived life. In this tele-class, Denis LeDoux will outline a process by which memoirists bring the fiction making element under control through understanding the myth-making process–which creates meaning and underscores the important themes in our lives and our memoir.
Denis LeDoux is the author of Turning Memories into Memoirs and other texts on memoir writing. Visit his wonderful rich website www.turningmemories.com
December 11, 2008 Jerry Waxler – Four Stages of Memoir Writing—Challenges and Strategies
Writing a memoir sounds daunting if you think of it as a single task. One way to get your arms around it is by breaking it down into parts. In this presentation, Jerry Waxler will show you how to look at memoir writing in stages, what the challenges are at each stage, and suggestions for overcoming them. www.memorywritersnetwork.com
Enjoy the midsummer light and special moments!
The National Association of Memoir Writers
Visit www.namw.org to see the long list of membership benefits and learn more about us. Sign up for our weekly newsletter and receive a download of your free e-book: Begin Your Memoir Today!
There is a growing national and international memoir community where writers need support solving the difficult questions about how to write a memoir, how to have a successful writing life, and keys to the path of successful publication.
Memoir writers have other needs too: encouragement to listen to the stories that whisper in their ears, guidance about taming the inner critic, and coaching for the ways that memoir is a healing path toward self-realization and freedom of expression.
I will be interviewing the experts on the live phone teleseminars and having them share their knowledge about memoir writing, publishing, writing skills, plot, inspiration, dreams, spiritual memoir, and the healing power of writing-with much more to come throughout the year.
If you join at the special pre-launch price, you will be part of a dynamic new organization connected to others who, like you, are wanting to learn more about how to write a publishable memoir, leave a legacy, or experience the personal satisfaction of writing a personal story. www.namw.org
Ongoing Groups in Berkeley, CA
New groups begin in September.
- Thursday Women’s Memoir Circle September 11-December 4
- Saturday Memoir Circle September 13-December 6
Read more here: http://memoriesandmemoirs.net/category/memoir-writing-classes/
- A memoir competition — 1500 words. Go to: http://impressions.firstpersonarts.org
First Person Arts, a Philly non-profit dedicated to memoir and documentary art, at http://www.firstpersonarts.org
Memoir Writing Tips
- Write frequent vignettes—small do-able pieces.
- Use the timeline to organize your memories and stories.
- Find the dark and light in each story as well as identify stories that are primarily dark or light.
- For healing: Write the truth without editing
- Don’t listen to the critic
Midsummer light bathes us in blessings,
longer days nurture new ideas in our creative souls.
Buy a new journal. Write your memories.
Make a list of stories that you never want to forget.