Author Archives: Linda Joy Myers

The Craft of Memoir – Write Like a Novelist

NAMW August Member Teleseminar–Marcia Butler

August 18, 2017

11 AM PDT   12 PM MDT  1 PM CDT  2 PM EDT

One of the greatest compliments I received when my memoir was published was hearing from reviewers and readers alike that my book “read like a novel.”  Most memoirs have a gripping tale to tell, which is vital not only from a publisher’s standpoint, but also for the expectation of the devoted reader of this form. Yet, skillful and nuanced storytelling must be a goal not only of the novelist but of memoirists as well.

After all, there is only one difference between fiction and memoir. In the case of a novel the plot is made up. But the memoirist knows the story and all the characters. We know how the protagonist will succeed and fail; who lives and who dies. The memoirist is in full command of thoughts, feelings, memories, the beginning and the ending. Novelists make their decisions throughout the writing process, tossing out characters and plot threads that don’t serve the narrative.

But memoirists know the stakes from the very beginning and it is our job to tell our story with compassion, craft and intelligence. We must keep the reader turning the pages, eager to see what happens next by pacing the action, by writing believable dialogue and by creating chapters that satisfy as a whole. Just like a great novel.

In my teleseminar, I’ll show you how to tell your life story with the skill and nuance of a novelist.

  • Build your world view
  • The process of selecting scenes for inclusion – must we tell everything?
  • How to make a distant yet important memory come to life
  • Short lens and long lens as a way to create depth and space in a scene
  • Writing from anger and grief – keep this in check and remain be a believable character/writer
  • Craft dials apply to memoir too – use the senses
  • Some characters do not warrant page space – choose carefully
  • Know what your story (plot) is – life is big but a book can contain only so much
  • How to get your character “across the room” – tools to elide gaps in time or compress time

 

Marcia Butler Short Bio:

Marcia Butler is the debut author of the nationally acclaimed memoir, The Skin Above My Knee. She was a professional oboist for twenty-five years until her retirement in 2008. During her musical career, she performed as a principal oboist and soloist on the most renowned of New York and international stages, with many high-profile musicians and orchestras – including pianist Andre Watts, and composer and pianist Keith Jarrett. Marcia was a 2015 recipient of a Writer-in-Residence through Aspen Words and the Catto Shaw Foundation. Her work has been published in Literary Hub, PANK Magazine, Psychology Today Magazine, The Aspen Institute, BioStories and others. She has written a novel which is currently out for sale to publishers. Marcia lives in New York City.

 

July Roundtable Webinar- FREE to All – July 6, 2017

How I Wrote My Memoir: One Sentence a Day

Thais Derich

July 6, 2017 

4 PM PDT  5 PM MDT  6 PM CDT  7 PM EDT

We are grateful that Thais Derich can join us for this FREE Roundtable Discussion teleseminar. She will discuss how she wrote her book, hired an agent by the hour, and found her publisher. Thais will surprise you when you learn about her unconventional path to publishing, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her passion for social justice in our writing.

Thais Nye Derich, in her memoir, Second Chance: A Mother’s Quest for a Natural Birth After a Cesarean, falls under the power of clinician-directed medical birth rather than one guided by the body’s own intuitive knowledge.

Derich’s story telling is empowering and she gains strength and healing through her vulnerability on the page. However, she writes her story, too, in solidarity with other women and their birth stories, refusing to whitewash the difficulties while still celebrating the moments of joy. It is fitting that she ends her memoir balanced between these difficulties and the joys.

You will learn:

  • How Derich wrote her book using this mantra: “one sentence a day.”
  • The ways that your memoir picks you.
  • How your story is bigger than yourself.
  • Learn how writing and speaking about a cause are different.
  • How to be a writer with young children.
  • How to balance family, work, and the art of writing.

Derich speaks about her story and the intersection between birth and social justice. Derich’s past work has been published in Salon, BlogHer, BabyCenter, Literary Mama, Wild Violet Literary Magazine, Forge Journal, SFGate, the San Francisco Examiner, among others and performed live at the Listen to Your Mother show. A chapter of Second Chance was a finalist out of 500 entries for the Creative Non-Fiction Magazine’s baby anthology. She now lives in beautiful Marin County, where she is writing her second book.

 

Listen to the recording below:

Five ways that Writing a Memoir Helps you Find Your Authentic Self and Voice

Jerry Waxler

June Member webinar

June 23, 2017

11 AM PDT  12 PM MDT   1 PM CDT  2 PM EDT

When you first think about writing the story of your life, you may remember major challenges or disruptions. Over time, you begin looking at yourself as the hero/heroine on a quest to find something. What is the thing you’re looking for? What is the purpose of your life journey?

In this presentation, Jerry Waxler, memoir author and teacher, will show how the Memoir Revolution, currently in swing for people of all ages, is about finding the True You, hidden within all the complexities of your unique experiences.

We’ll explore five ways that memoir writing is about finding your authentic self.

  1. Becoming you in the first place (the coming of age memoir)
  2. Reestablishing a sense of self-worth and empowerment after illness or loss of a loved one (grieving, recovery from trauma)
  3. Course correction: Adjusting or readjusting personhood in midlife
  4. Finding true cultural connection (finding one’s way through identity challenges, immigration, mixed culture, religion, or race)
  5. Returning, through your memories, to discover the truth and meaning of your own past

Jerry Waxler writes, coaches, and teaches about how to awaken human potential through life story writing. Jerry’s blog and book Memoir Revolution champions the social trend to turn life into Story. His self-help book, How to Become a Heroic Writer, provides self-help tools to find the courage and time to write your own story. Jerry’s memoir Thinking My Way to the End of the World is about his attempt to come of age during the sixties. He is on the advisory board of the National Association of Memoirs. He has a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and teaches writing classes at Northampton Community College.

 

Writing Your Story Will Change You

Writing Your Story Will Change You

Writing Your Story Will Change YouDo you have a family story that won’t leave you alone? Have you spent time not being sure you should or can write it?

That’s how I felt as I approached trying to write both memoirs—Don’t Call Me Mother and Song of the Plains. I tried to push aside completing my first book because it was painful to drop into the past again and revisit scenes of abuse and loss when I was a child, though I relished the happy moments with family, my cello teacher, and friends. I didn’t think I could write; I was afraid to put things on the page that were true but unspoken. I knew that my family would severely criticize me for it—if they were alive. But even though they weren’t, it was still a challenge to keep writing through the layers of time. I worried about being exposed about my life and my crazy family if I were to finish the book, which lead to twelve years or writing and rewriting before I felt I could let it go. There was shame, too, in having lived through some of the events in the book. Do any of these concerns go through your mind about your memoir?

A couple things kept me going: I wanted to write a book that would support other people who had grown up either abandoned or lost to help them seek healing and resolution. And, I wanted to write the book I had looked for on the shelves as I lived through my story.

When it was finally published, I discovered that I was part of a larger community of people, all who had been silenced and were afraid to speak their truths, but gradually, there was permission through writing memoir, a fairly new genre when I started writing, to write the stories that no one knew. The stories where I was the only witness. Through being able to be connected by the Internet, and social media like Facebook, communities have been built that share similar issues and themes.

To learn more about my new book Song of the Plains, please visit http://lindajoymyersauthor.com

Writing your story will change you! As you are writing your story, perhaps you already have experienced a shift in perspective about your life, your family, and the events you lived through.  Our stories carry a wisdom we didn’t know we had. Memoir makes its demands on us, pressing us for stories we’ve never written before, leading us into moments and memories as we drop into another time and place. To write a memoir means to wrestle with truth. We are the narrator and witness to the life we’ve lived. Writing a memoir means that we learn how to move through time as we draw upon writing craft to create a world the reader can relate to, a world that brings them into the magic of a story.

To support your journey into memoir, I hope you can join us this May for two major memoir events at the National Association of Memoir Writers.

First, our NAMW Member monthly webinar, May 12. Structure is such a challenge, and Beth Barany is going to offer several possible solutions that can solve the puzzle of structure for your memoir.

I’m thrilled to present our FREE NAMW Memoir Telesummit Webinar on Friday, May 19. This talented and well known group of presenters will talk about truth, trauma, resilience and how to tackle challenging themes. Join us for a memoir event that can change your life, for the better!

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.

FREE Memoir Webinar: Truth in Memoir: A Journey of Healing and Transformation

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.

 

Mark Matousek

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

www.markmatousek.com

http://www.markmatousek.com/writing-to-awaken-italy-2017/

https://secure.madelineartschool.com/Classes_detail.cfm?recordno=1&Product_CatalogID=517&ProductNumber=WMM091117&ProductCode=49

http://www.markmatousek.com/e-courses-2/

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.

 

John Evans

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:

  1. Create your vision of vibrant wellness,
  2. Set intentions and clarify values
  3. Change perspective and remove obstacles
  4. Build confidence and resilience
  5. Express joy and optimism
  6. 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.

 

Mark Wolynn

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:

  1. Why I threw away 85,000 words of my first draft and started over again.
  2. The process—and problems—of writing a second memoir.
  3. How truth has different angles depending on your point of view, and how to find them.
  4. How to write an authentic story about family in their points of view.
  5. 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.

www.lindajoymyersauthor.com

www.namw.org

www.writeyourmemoirinsixmonths.com

Twitter: @memoirguru

 

Testimonials

Myers makes a compelling case for the power of words as a form of healing and growth.

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal

...the NAMW memoir classes with Linda Joy Myers are wonderful

Kathy Pooler