Everything is blooming most recklessly;
if it were voices
instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable
shrieking into the heart of the night.
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

memoir-writing-treeThis weekend I traveled across seasons, beginning in the voluptuous almond groves near Ripon, CA. In the middle of the grove, bees are buzzing and things are indeed blooming recklessly. Then, a lovely drive through the green, luscious foothills into the snow.

Children and dogs were running and playing, and at dusk I enjoyed a winter’s walk along semi-frozen paths leading to misty clouds and bubbling streams etched against fluffy snow drifts. Back down the mountain, we returned to spring, flowers and warmth.

It is the time of awakening, of longer sunlit hours, where we are reminded of the cycle of seasons. The weather and the season is like our creativity–inner seeds that have been resting and quiet in the long dark winter come into flower. In the darkness of our unconscious, we are feeding ever so gently the stories, poems, songs, and images that we will draw on in the light.

This is a great time to buy a new journal with a pretty cover, and recommit yourself to your writing and creative life.

Make a list of the stories that are calling to you. Create a timeline of your life; write with a fresh new voice. Even the stories you have written in the past can be dusted off and given a fresh new perspective.

Enjoy the spring, and revel in the season!

Writing about Spring

All of us have memories and feelings about the seasons. Feeling the experience of a changing season is a sensual experience, and it is sensual details that make us and our readers feel what we feel. It is this feeling experience that helps us write vivid stories. You can write poetry or glimpses of imagery and feeling, as in the poem above. Or you can write a story or vignette (a small story fragment). Enjoy finding the words to express your feelings about spring.

  • Write about spring smells, colors, and sounds. What does spring feel like on your skin?
  • What rituals did your family partake of in the spring? Easter eggs, Passover, spring cleaning.
  • What is your favorite story of a special day in spring? How old were you? Where were you? What happened that changed you?
  • What does spring mean to you now?

Body and Soul Retreat, Calistoga, CA

April 17 – 19, 2009 (Friday to Sunday)
Rate: $390.00
$25.00 Discount for NAMW members. Members can view discount code here.

In April tiny grapes burst from vines that have been resting during winter rains. Pink flowering plum, white almond, apple, and blossoms of pear trees burst forth. Calistoga: steam arises from ancient pools of mineral water inviting busy urban souls to relax into healing waters, to find silence in nature, to spend time with the self that is often forgotten. Join us in this bounteous place for a writing retreat. ┬╗Read more

Shaping Your Professional Writing Career

The San Francisco Writing Conference 2009

What an enjoyable creativity-inspiring scene at the San Francisco Writing Conference held at the Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill. There were uniformed doormen, crystal chandeliers, and 400 writers, authors, and agents, milling about. What a scene of excited and happy writers! There were so many workshops, and such energy as people worked on their ideas, pitches, and learned new writing tips.

I enjoyed speaking at the Memoir Panel, where Signe Pike of Penguin/Plume publishers in New York joined me. We talked about the importance of memoir writing and some of the best ways to complete a memoir and get to the next stage. Later, a panel of New York publishers spoke about the current health of publishing–which is not all doom and gloom despite the economy.

On Saturday I coached writers at the Book Doctor event. Every 5 minutes for three hours, a new person sat down to tell me about their idea, and I helped shape their pitch for the Speed Dating with Agents the next day.

What I learned from the conference:

  1. Most memoirists struggle with plot and structure.
  2. I love the passion that memoirists have for their stories.
  3. Defining the focus and writing in scenes are especially challenging for most memoirists.
  4. Agents and publishers are still looking!
  5. The way to get something written is to write frequently–though not necessarily every day.
  6. The writing world is alive and well, despite rumors of doom and gloom.
  7. The NY scene is much more open to self-published works, esp. if they have done well, than it used to be.
  8. Creative things are being done in NY to get books published.
  9. Building a platform is really needed to help the author get recognized.
  10. Platform is:
    • Joining organizations.
    • Blogging your ideas
    • Getting published in small magazines
    • Taking risks to send things out no matter what
    • Networking at conferences
    • Going to conferences to build skill at pitching and learning about the writing world.

To focus your ideas:

  1. Write a list of the next 5 scenes you plan to write for your project–whatever it is.
  2. List the title of the next chapters or topics you want to write about
  3. Think about your writing schedule. Can you find one more time to write?
  4. Spring: what does your character(s) do when spring begins–rituals, prayers, crazy things.