Lord, it is time. The summer was very big. Lay thy shadow on the sundials,
and on the meadows let the winds go loose. Command the last fruits that
they shall be full; give them another two more southerly days, press them
on to fulfillment and drive the last sweetness into the heavenly wine.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
Celebrating Becoming Whole at Book Passage
Book Passage was a terrific host for the launch of Becoming Whole: Writing Your Healing Story. A generous crowd showed up, extra chairs were added, and the Book Passage staff as always made us feel very welcome. Most weekends, they have at least three events per day!
In these pictures, you will see a bunch of happy readers—and I want to thank them all again:
Lea Durard “Twice Taken Unawares”
Lily Endlich “Cowboys, Indians, and the Fort”
Audrey Martin “The Grandmothers” from Nothing Left Standing but the Frame
Kara Jane Rollins “Sex and the Sophomore”
Laura Singh “The Wish”
Amy Peele “The Noggie Prodder” from Aunt Mary’s Guide to Raising Children the Old Fashioned Way
Allene Hickox “Meds and Memoirs”
Each reader held the audience spellbound and gave a calm, professional performance full of heart, soul, and humor. I want to thank all of you again for making the event so successful.
My 17 month old grandson Seth loves books too!
Celebrating the book event at Il Fornaio with son Theron and his son Seth.
|The Perilous Path of Memoir Writing
Memoir writing carries risks of family reactions, anger, and exposure. It also can be freeing and healing. Writers need to have a way of managing these polarities and be free to express their truths.
I have taught memoir writing for many years, and have always encouraged people to write their personal stories. After all, my belief is that writing is good for you, it is healing–I have seen this many times for myself and for others–and it frees the writers to move on to other new levels of their lives.
In all my classes and workshops we discuss the issues of family–the writer’s worry about how family will react to their stories, will it make things worse? Will they be attacked or judged for what they say on the page–this is assuming that they show their writing to others or are published.
But recently I have found from interactions with an older generation in my family, it doesn’t matter if I wrote my truth or stand behind the story I told. It doesn’t matter if I have not named names or told the most secret stories.
What matters is that I have written anything at all about the family. It appears that writing any kind of book about the family is threatening. I discovered that people may judge you for writing a book even if they have not read it. They may project their own imagined fears and guilt–about what we may never know–onto the person who takes the risk to speak out, to write, and especially to publish.
I always felt that I was safe in writing Don’t Call Me Mother because the people I write the most about–my mother, grandmother and father, the main characters, were dead. I felt compelled to tell the cautionary tale of mothers who had abandoned their daughters, and I tried to honor my Iowa family and tell the stories of how I had felt loved and accepted there, and how my great-grandmother and great aunts and uncles had made me feel less abandoned.
I left out quite a lot, especially about the smiling uncles with roaming hands and greedy eyes. I left out what I felt were stories that would distract from my main story about the mothers. But who knows if the legacy of sexual abuse is not part of their story too? My grandmother told me about grandfathers and uncles who were “to be watched out for.” I heard about hands up little girl’s dresses. I knew that my grandmother ran away from her grandparent’s home when she was 16. I don’t know why. I do know that she expressed a deep hatred of men, and I have to wonder where the came from.
I see that no matter how hard we may try not to offend or how much we try to protect family members, it still may not work. You may find yourself, as I did recently, attacked, judged, and perhaps feared.
Perhaps the pen is the mightiest tool of all. Writing is indeed a warrior’s path. There are many memoir writers such as Frank McCourt, Jennifer Lauck, Mary Karr and others who defended the story they told no matter what others said.
Write your truth, write the story you need to write, but protect yourself from the judgments of others as long as you can. Join a safe writing group either online or in your community. Write your stories in private and be careful who you show them to. After your work is completed and edited, prepare for publication if you want others to learn from your story. When it is time for publication, talk to your family, as I did, so they know what is coming. But once you are published, be prepared for anything.
Linda, Amanda and Zoe
My daughter Amanda and her daughter Zoe
We have broken the chain of abandonment written about in Don’t Call Me Mother, and are enjoying some wonderful times!
|Memoir Circles and Writing Workshops San Francisco Bay Area and Online
Memoir writing is a powerful creative journey. Many people are eager to embark on that journey, and yet they have important questions about the process:
“I am a beginner, where do I start?” “How can I write the truth about my life–my family would not agree with my story.”
“My family will get mad at me if I dare put on paper what really happened. In fact, they tell me my memories are wrong.”
In my supportive workshops, we talk about the process of writing a memoir, and suggest a healing, private first draft. As a therapist and writer, I know that the stories we carry are often difficult, secret, or might appear disloyal to family, but in the workshop, you are with other writers struggling with the same issues, and offering their support.
Each week we do a freewrite, which means allowing stories to freely erupt onto the page without worrying about “doing it right,” and each week, more stories emerge into the light where they are embraced with unconditional support.
You will learn how to begin, structure, and keep writing your memoir, and when you are ready to decide what to do with it for a larger audience, including contests and publication, we help you with that too. I offer a large selection of helpful writing prompts and tips to help you get your story on the page.
We discuss: writing the truth, how to keep your work protected from criticism while you write, using photos to help create stories, and how to remember more details. Along the way you will learn about writing skills such as scenes, plot, and character development.
November 2-4. 2007
It’s that time again–our cozy autumn retreat in the wine country–Calistoga
Each year writers tell me how much they learned, marveling at the amount of writing they accomplished at the retreat.
Online Writing Workshops 6 week online workshop: $227
These workshops begin at any time and offer you the opportunity to write your stories and submit them online.
Linda is available for private coaching to help you begin and complete your memoir, and manuscript editing is available online and by phone.
Writing Workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area
These workshops are located in the East Bay, convenient to San Francisco, Marin County, Alameda County, and Contra Costa County. Writers come from all these areas for our dynamic and stimulating workshops where they begin their powerful stories, develop their unique voices, and learn how to complete a publishable story.
Thursday Night Women’s Memoir Circle
September 20-December 13, 2007
7-9:45 PM $385 Includes free consultation about your work
Each week women of various ages and backgrounds meet to write and talk about motherhood, careers, romance, memories of family, and spirituality, using poetry and prose to capture memories and to explore the richness of their lives. They write about important turning points–the lighter, humorous moments and dark nights of the soul. There is laughter and a few tears, and most of all the witnessing of our stories, an important component of healing and moving into the future.
Saturday Spiritual Autobiography Class
September 15- December 15
10 AM-1 PM $385 Includes free consultation about your work
In this workshop writers of all levels begin and develop the stories of their lives, paying attention to turning points, consciousness, and their spiritual and healing choices and paths. Humorous, sexy, profound, and startling stories about the landscapes of our lives emerge from this class, and some writers have been published and won contests.
Write Your Book Workshop
September 22-December 15
We will discuss writing techniques that make good storytelling: creating characters that walk and breathe, constructing a great scene, writing dialogue, pacing scenes and narration and all the skills needed to write a longer length work.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call: 510-524-3898
New Sampler classes
$20.00 per meeting
Sign up by calling 510-524-3898 or email email@example.com
Don’t have time to enroll in a series of classes? Try one of our sampler classes. Sign up and learn about memoir writing, begin some of your stories and get great support–all for $20. Bring paper and pen to do some quick writes during the workshop. You do not have to have writing experience to enjoy meeting other writers and sharing your writing–poetry, memoir, or short stories. Bring novel ideas if you are writing fiction. A friendly, relaxed way to meet other writers and find out about how to zap your critic, write vignettes in 10 minutes, and how to use fictional tools.
Special for therapists and helping professionals.
Therapists can earn valuable CEU units online by taking an online course, receiving coaching, attending any class or the retreat.
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