I love the internet, Facebook, and even Twitter, now that I’ve gotten used to it. And most of all I love making new friends with the presenters at the teleseminars for The National Association of Memoir Writers. Friday, September 16, I’m going to be revisiting the territory of grammar with Jami Carpenter, Red Pen Girl at 11 AM PDT. Thinking about grammar reminds me of my 9th grade teacher Miss Luikhart, who made us write verbs in past tense, past perfect, future perfect…do you even remember what future perfect is—thirty times each night. Who knows—we might explore tenses tomorrow, and certainly conjunctions and propositions—tune in to find out.
Recently several people told me that my book The Power of Memoir helped them write the story they always meant to write. It gives my life meaning and purpose to help people on their writing journey with a lighter step and a smile on their face. That reminds me, we’ll be talking about compassion and connection as part of the healing journey on the November NAMW Telesummit November 18. I’ll be speaking with Jason Marsh from Greater Good Science just in time to inspire us for Thanksgiving.
In this online community, we may not have met each other in person, but we are all indeed real! “Virtual” doesn’t quite describe the depth of connection and warmth between online friends and community. Perhaps the power of our online communities has surprised everyone—I know it has surprised me.
The Power of Writing Through Grief
I would like to introduce you to some of my online writing friends with blogs, wisdom prompts, books, and encouragement. Last week I talked with Madeline Sharples and Eleanor Vincent on the NAMW free Roundtable discussion held Thursdays once a month. It was almost a writing course in an hour, so much was discussed spontaneously and authentically with these two women—both writing about the death of their children in their powerful books. Madeline’s book Leaving the Hall Light On is about her son’s mental illness and eventual suicide, and the healing and sorting process that went on afterward. Eleanor Vincent’s book Swimming with Maya reveal what it’s like for her daughter to die suddenly, and how Eleanor as her mother wrestled with the decision to donate her organs so others could live.
You might think this is a desperately sad subject, and wonder how they could bear writing about the death of thier children, but you find out that they used writing to help them sort through the chaos of emotions and events, to help them grapple with the story and put it down on the page where it became more objective. Both of them say that writing their books was a healing journey.
Yes, writing is magical in the way that it can smooth the way for more peace and understanding of life events. Perhaps none of us start off writing a memoir to heal. Maybe we just want to capture some stories, maybe we just want to write some of the good memories that we have. But no one’s life is perfect, and sometimes the sadder, more difficult stories to tell arise and demand our attention. The memoir community online is large, and still growing. Let me tell you about two of my favorite online friends and colleagues.
Thank you Jerry and Sharon
I have many online friends, but two of them have been there from the beginning. I want to thank Jerry Waxler and Sharon Lippincott for their encouragement, buoying me up on my journey as an online teacher and founder of NAMW. They are on the advisory board, but most of all they are friends I can call any time—and we have never met in person! We began by getting acquainted through their blogs, emails, and then phone calls, and have been friends for over three years. Please visit Jerry’s blog The Memory Writers Network, and Sharon at The Heart and Craft of Memoir Writing.
They offer riches beyond imagining in their thoughtful and thorough explorations of memoir books—the focus of Jerry’s blogs, and everything from the technical questions that come up when writing and publishing to writing as healing, one of Sharon’s favorite topics.
It’s time for me to get my own writing done, so I’ll say goodbye for now. Next week we will be talking about the writing process, and what helps you to keep going. Good luck with your grammar! And be sure to visit some of these links!