May 19, 2017
Free Day Long event: 10 AM/1PM to 2 PM/5 PM
We’re very excited here at NAMW to offer a day long discussion about truth in memoir–one of the hottest topics memoirists discuss online, in forums, and in running Facebook posts!
As memoirists, we have to struggle with “the truth.” When we write our stories, we search to discover and reveal various angles of the truths in our lives. As complex humans, there are multiple and sometimes paradoxical truths—love and hate, letting go/holding on, attraction/repulsion desire and rejection of intimacy, and countless other opposites that are part of life. In our stories, one scene may highlight one aspect of truth, and then in another we’re someone else. The characters in our stories may have conflicting presentations and we feel complex emotions about these real people who become our “characters.” In a world that asks for us to have a single opinion or reaction that defines, writing a memoir and facing its complexities can get challenging. Sometimes we’re tempted to give up. As one of my students said, “I keep changing my mind about what I think and feel each time I write my story. I need to know what position I should take. Shouldn’t I have this all sorted out by now?”
The secret to writing a memoir is that it’s more of a journey and a process than a single destination. We are always becoming and learning as we write. In writing a memoir we uncover surprises, some of which we don’t want to know about. As I wrote both Don’t Call Me Mother and my new memoir, Song of the Plains, I encountered bumpy emotional rides. In my new memoir, I tried to pull back even deeper layers of truth that I either couldn’t write about yet in my first one, or I couldn’t bear to share with the world. By investigating our story, new truths were revealed. Today we are going to investigate truth—how to find it, why we try to avoid it, and what to do when it speaks deeply to us, body and soul.
Join this FREE special webinar on May 19 with these deep and engaging presenters who have agreed to spend time with us. The day will be one of exploration and insight, and I hope you will find support and inspiration for your own work through this special event.
Transformation through Telling Your Truths: Memoir as a Healing Path
10 am PDT 11 am MDT 12 pm CDT 1 pm EDT
When you tell the truth, your story changes. When your story changes, your life is transformed. Radical truth telling and self-inquiry in writing are incomparable tools for personal healing, creative expansion, and spiritual insight. Over the past 30 years as a memoirist and teacher, I’ve come to see that the narratives we use to describe our lives are frequently more fiction than fact. Once we begin to examine these stories, and tell the whole truth as we know it, these narratives begin to collapse, revealing the falsehoods we’ve carried, and giving us enormous freedom as writers of memoir.
But how to we learn to tell our whole truth? How do we separate fact from fiction? What is the role of imagination in unlocking preverbal experience? Is it possible to heal personal trauma by changing the story we tell ourselves, as some psychologists suggest? How do we avoid the danger of triggering old trauma when exploring it? What tools and practices are useful in helping to explore shadow material in memoir? Finally, how is healing facilitated through the process of radical truth-telling?
These are some of the questions we’ll be exploring together during this thought provoking session. You will come to understand the importance of taking the witness perspective as a memoirist in order to step beyond your personal fiction. This gives you enormous freedom as a writer and demonstrates – beyond any doubt – that you are the storyteller not the story, the mythmaker not the myth.
During this webinar, you will learn:
- How to use radical truth telling in memoir
- How to use writing as a path of healing
- How to explore shadow material
- How to distinguish your wounds from your gifts
- How to cultivate witness consciousness
- How to change your trauma story
Mark Matousek is the author of two acclaimed memoirs, Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story (an international bestseller) and The Boy He Left Behind: A Man’s Search For His Lost Father, as well as When You’re Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living, and Ethical Wisdom: The Search for a Moral Life.. A former editor at Interview Magazine, he is a featured blogger for PsychologyToday.com and the Huffington Post, and has contributed to numerous anthologies and publications, including The New Yorker, O: The Oprah Magazine (contributing editor), Harper’s Bazaar, Yoga Journal, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and The Saturday Evening Post. A popular speaker and teacher, he offers courses in creativity and spiritual growth in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe, based on his book, Writing To Awaken: A Journey of Truth, Transformation, and Self-Discovery. He is a founding member of V-Men (with Eve Ensler), an organization devoted to ending violence against women and girls. His new book, Mother of the Unseen World, will be published in November. He lives and works East Hampton, New York.
11 am PDT 12 pm MDT 1 pm CDT 2 pm EDT
Flourish: Writing for Resilience after Challenging Times
Expressive Writing heals and builds resilience through a process focusing on feelings related to a trauma, by imagining a fresh perspective about that trauma, and by creating a meaningful narrative about the trauma.
John Evans has taught expressive writing for over thirty years and believes that it may provide a ready springboard for memoir writing because it allows for the detailed connection of events with emotions that can be shaped into a complex, coherent story that moves experiences out of the body and mind connections on to the page.
If you have been touched by a life-changing event, diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, job loss, divorce, separation, death of spouse, death of a parent, you know the mind/body connection first hand. It is never more apparent than when we experience a significant emotional event in the form of such traumas. We don’t sleep well, we stop eating or we sleep all the time or we eat everything in sight.
In this webinar you will learn how expressive writing leads to helping you:
- Create your vision of vibrant wellness,
- Set intentions and clarify values
- Change perspective and remove obstacles
- Build confidence and resilience
- Express joy and optimism
- Stimulate thinking that leads to insights and understanding.
Flourish is an evidence-based, expressive writing approach and includes seven types of writing to heal: mindful writing, HEALing writing, as well as expressive, transactional, poetic, affirmative, and legacy writing.
Evans works with groups, individuals, and health care professionals, teaching them how to use writing for better physical, emotional, and spiritual health. He has authored five books and has taught journaling and writing for self-development for over thirty years. With James Pennebaker, Evans co-authored Expressive Writing: Words that Heal (2014). His book, Wellness & Writing Connections: Writing for Better Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health (2010), is a collection of essays from the Wellness & Writing Connections Conference Series (2007 – 2010). Evans is a faculty member of 1440 Multiversity in Santa Cruz, CA and is leading a year-long online expressive writing project, Pen My Path, for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society sponsored by Pfizer. At Duke Integrative Medicine, Evans teaches Transform Your Health: Write to Heal, Leading Patients in Writing for Health, and Writing as a Tool for Integrative Health Coaches.
12 noon PDT 1 PM MDT 2 PM CDT 3 PM EDT
It Didn’t Start With You
How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle
We’re very excited that our guest Mark Wolynn, author of the book It Didn’t Start with You, is going to talk with us about how trauma affects the generations, and what to do to create a new legacy. He reveals the science about how we inherit trauma and how we unconsciously are carrying patterns from our parents and grandparents. What has happened in the past lives in the present unconsciously within us, creating pain and problems in our own lives that mirror similar issues that faced the generations before us.
The good news is that there are ways to break these patterns, and it has to do with becoming aware of what they are, and finding ways to dig into the story of your family and understand how it affects you.
We have learned in other seminars about how writing helps to heal, and in this presentation we will learn why and how discovering the family story and using it to unlock generations of trauma and pain is so important to all of us.
You will learn:
– How trauma is passed from a parent to a child.
– The scientific research that supports inherited family trauma in humans and animals.
– How people can tell if they are suffering from inherited family trauma. What are the signs?
– How a person suffering from inherited family trauma can heal.
– Tips on how to break the cycle of inherited family trauma.
Mark Wolynn is a leading expert on inherited family trauma. As the director of The Family Constellation Institute in San Francisco, he trains clinicians and treats people struggling with depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive thoughts, self-injury, chronic pain, and persistent symptoms and conditions. A sought-after lecturer, he leads workshops at hospitals, clinics, conferences, and teaching centers around the world. He has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the Western Psychiatric Institute, Kripalu, The Omega Institute, The New York Open Center, and The California Institute of Integral Studies. His articles have appeared in Psychology Today, Mind Body Green, MariaShriver.com, Elephant Journal, and Psych Central, and his poetry has been published in The New Yorker. www.markwolynn.com
Transformation and Forgiveness: How I Uncovered New Truths in My Second Memoir
Linda Joy Myers
Interviewed by Brooke Warner
1 PM PDT 2 PM MDT 3 PM CDT 4 PM EDT
When I wrote my first memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother, I thought I’d cracked my family story. I believed I’d come to understand and forgive my grandmother and mother for the abuse and rejection in my life. I’d written the story that I’d carried since I was a child, and enough time had passed that I felt I had perspective and distance from the daily sting of abandonment and loss that marked my early years. But that story was written and lived before I myself became a grandmother. When they were born, I had new reasons to investigate our family legacy and offer up a well-researched and documented family story. Of course, the deeper reason I wanted to write another memoir was about me.
About three years after I published Don’t Call Me Mother, I started noticing a longing to further explore and research the histories I’d gathered in courthouses and local libraries in Iowa where my mother’s family was from. I got only a few stories from family members—they seemed dedicated to stay silent about a number of important family stories.
These unfinished threads wouldn’t leave me alone, nor would the poetry, stories, and histories of the Great Plains that I’d collected over the years. I noticed the heartache I felt whenever I saw photographs of my mother when she was young. My discovery of Ancestry.com was another huge impetus to explore my story from a new point of view, that of myself as an older adult. From this vantage point, I discovered that the road to healing is not a straight line, and the beckoning of new stories is not a force to ignore, no matter how impractical it might seem.
In this interview with Brooke Warner, my colleague and publisher of She Writes Press, we’ll explore the seeds that led me to dig deeper into my new memoir, the themes that make Song of the Plains a hybrid memoir of sorts, and why I think it’s important to allow the creative process to unravel in its own time.
You will learn:
- Why I threw away 85,000 words of my first draft and started over again.
- The process—and problems—of writing a second memoir.
- How truth has different angles depending on your point of view, and how to find them.
- How to write an authentic story about family in their points of view.
- The importance of place and poetry in the healing process.
Linda Joy Myers is the author and co-author of several books about memoir, and the founder and president of the National Association of Memoir Writers. Her first memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother, won several awards, and her Power of Memoir has been used to teach writing as healing techniques. Linda Joy grew to love stories in a featherbed with her eighty-year-old great-grandmother, and since then has pursued family history, secrets, and research to understand the lives of her family, and to find the keys to unlocking the past and creating a positive present and future. Her passion for stories drives her love of teaching memoir. She leads a biannual intensive course, Write Your Memoir in Six Months, with Brooke Warner. She shares her love of reading with her three children and three grandchildren, her two kitties, and her friends. A great day includes reading a book and watching a good movie. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.