It’s so exciting to have so many friends around the world–writers, heartful marketers like Lynn Serafinn, bloggers, like Kathy Pooler–I’m a guest on her site today–and all kinds of people passionate about memoir writing. I was telling someone about my good friend Sharon Lippincott the other day, and they asked how I knew her. Sharon is one of my colleagues at the National Association of Memoir Writers, and–we’ve never met, in person that is. We have talked on the phone countless times, collaborated, schemed ideas, planned, and even Skyped–so I know what she looks like–but meet? No, not yet. I hope to see her in person when she comes west. But we are good friends thanks to the Internet.
The other day on Facebook I was awed by the number of people responding to the huge beautiful moon this weekend–dozens of people posted about it and added their photos of the moon taken from all over the country. I felt blessed to be connected even in cyber space by so many people and their response to the moon! It is because of social media that we can be connected like this–and though people disparage the cyber space thing at times–every one of those posts I read was made by a real person. And on Twitter–it does not operate by bots, for the most part. The tweets that I read, and I don’t spend enough time there really, are all by real people who are writing, publishing, and reaching out with their message. It’s amazing to see this. There are so many communities online and so many ways to shake hands with people. I’m learning a lot about this attitude from Dan Blank, whose terrific course” How to Build your Author’s Platform” will help you change your thinking.
I know that memoir writers sometimes struggle with “social media” and mistakenly think that it’s superficial or a waste of time. I was one of those people, but no more. When we approach marketing and getting the word out about something important to us with respect, we will receive it back. When we offer something of value to others–in a memoir it’s the lesson, the message, the wisdom that is offered–others will think about how that message affects them. They will get curious and reach out to you.
Lynn Serafinn, a two-time guest at the National Association of Memoir Writers, is offering a conference about what I call “heartful marketing” in London in June–and I’m going! The reason I’m going is to connect with a large community of people who are passionate about having a spirit-ful connection with others, and I want to bring back lessons and wisdom about how memoir writers can shift their attitude about marketing and reaching out from a grudging “Okay, I supposed I have to start a blog and get on Facebook, what a drag,” to curiosity–“how can I make new friends on the web whom I would never know otherwise. How can I learn how to make all this work for me so I grow my community?” See below for how you can sign up.
1. Think about who you already have in your community–friends, relatives, friends of friends. That’s where you start.
2. Make a list of people whose message you resonate with–and what they say that triggers your response to them.
3. Now make a list of well known people–authors, talk show hosts, movie stars–whoever you really admire and like. Look at the review on Amazon of your favorite authors–maybe someone there is a person you can connect with.
4. Remember community is a circle–give and receive, comment and respond. It’s a little like going to a party where you shake hands and find out what you have in common. You listen, and you say a few things about yourself. Not the long form speech about your book, but the two-line elevator speech where you say what it is about and how it can help others.
There. Homework done, but keep making your lists and adding to them. Check your negative attitude at the door, and open up to the grand community we have here on the www–the World Wide Web.
If you are interested in Lynn’s global conference, the early bird discount is available. Sign up here for the conference or the simulcast–it’s very reasonable and easy to attend.
In my local community, I’m teaching a workshop at Beth Barany’s Write and Publish your Book in 2012 on May 19th. A great group of presenters will get you up to date in the 21st century of writing and publishing.
Now, back to writing. Later, I’ll look into Facebook for a few minutes, Twitter for a few minutes, and stop off at a couple of blogs. Just a regular day with my community of writers!
By the time you read these words, the “I” that wrote them will have forgotten
what it was, though the it lingers on, haunting the paper, unheard until you
happen across it and your energy field activates it. –Margaret Atwood
We write into the unknown, we launch ourselves onto tiny rafts of words so lacy and insubstantial that we wonder how it’s possible–how these black dots on paper hold the most important moments of our lives. Can words truly free us from some of the prisons we have been locked into? I have seen this happen countless times in my memoir writing workshops—the writer is surprised at how powerful her words are to unlock, to open, and to heal.
If you have been writing or journaling, you know that words can lead you out of darkness and help you to find the light. People in workshops talk about this all the time, but even though our identity and our tools for self-expression are words, at times we are at a loss to express how words can help us feel better. It seems like magic sometimes. We write into that unknown, especially when we are journaling, not knowing where we will end up. Story writing is a little different, though it too is open ended and magical.
Story as a Way of Knowledge
A story, in contrast to journaling, invites us to put events into a time frame and make choices. A story has a structure—a beginning, middle and an end that you choose and construct out of your fragments of dream and memory. Creative people—poets, painters, musicians, and writers enter into a kind of reflective dream, written about beautifully by John Gardner in The Art of Fiction. A story writer selects words that convey feeling, action, and reflection, bringing the lived moment alive to the reader. Writing creates a new experience with what had been chaotic. I like to say that story writing, including memoir, personal stories, and even fictional writing, is a “Way of Knowledge.”
Through story, you can learn about the self, about the narrator, the characters, the actions taken and the theme and outcome of the story. This creates a new world on the page and in the heart of the writer. What was perceived as “reality” before writing the story is changed by the act of writing.
Dr. James Pennebaker, who did the major research on writing as healing, points out that once we write a story, we no longer remember what “really” happened—we remember the story of what happened. The story inhabits us, and we are different as a result. Our imagination and the art of the story have created a new reality.
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
There are some openings in my online tele-workshops at the National Association of Memoir Writers for the spring session. Tuesday session begins March 27, 3 PM PDT. Monday begins April 2 at 1 PM PDT.
- Think about one of your favorite family stories–would you like to develop it further?
- What time frame have you covered in your early vignettes? Place them on the timeline to get a visual image of the quilt of your memoir.
- Character sketches: Choose some of the people you have written about in your memoir, and create a more complete scene with them. Learning about scene writing is an ongoing challenge–but rewarding. Scenes are how you bring your world to life.
- Do you struggle with writing your truths, the right to write your stories? Support and community can help you move forward with more confidence.
- Learn about quilting your vignettes into a larger work.
- Does your inner critic bother you? Learn new techniques to help silence the inner critic.
- Write about the landscapes and places that are part of your soul.
- Editing: We teach you gently how to become your own editor.
- Revision—means “seeing again.” Writing means revision, an important skill as you grow as a writer.
- Organization: we will discuss how to organize and keep track of your vignettes.
… Linda Joy is an inspirational mentor who truly makes a difference and convinces you to believe in yourself and your story…..She always provides compassionate and meaningful support and expert guidance and direction.
Re-membering through memoir writing patched together important pieces of myself long ago forgotten or abandoned. After several rounds of classes under Linda Joy Myers’ priceless guidance, all of me is finally snuggled well into my body, mind, and spirit. Prior to Linda Joy’s memoir classes, I never would have called myself a writer, Now, I can say with pride and certainty that I am indeed, a writer.
—-Author Dawn Novotny