An Interview with June NAMW Member of the Month, Linda Lacey Missouri
Linda Joy: Tell us what you are writing about
Linda: I grab a memory that’s alive and wrestle it into submission! I’m writing short pieces—high points, low points, and turning points—to catch the essence and meaning of my life’s journey.
Linda Joy: Who is your audience?
Linda: I’m basically writing for my own self-understanding. However, I get an immediate thrill out of seeing my name in print. I was happy when my story about my grandparents was published this spring in The Searcher, a publication of The Southern California Genealogical Society. I called it How They Met: A Timeless Tale Inspired by a Clock.
Linda Joy: Is there anyone who does not want you to write your memoir? Why not?
Linda: One in particular! He’s my own Inner Critic who likes to interrupt the flow of writing to point out flaws or give advice. He intrudes on my efforts by saying, “These words aren’t good enough. You might as well stop. Do something of real value. This is too hard for you. Go have fun.” My writing suffers when I let his opinion be the final word. I need to respond with, “Wait a minute. I’m not wasting my time. If you’re trying to motivate me, you’re having the opposite effect. I don’t need to be perfect. It hurts me when you comment on my early drafts. I’ll call on you when I need your critique.” The trick, however, is catching my critic before he’s moved right in and taken over.
Linda Joy: What are the most significant turning points or influences in your life?
Linda: In my 20’s I lost my brother to mental illness. With my heart broken open with grief, I was propelled into my own mental health journey. I worked with a counselor at the university to uncover my hidden needs and trust another person with my inner thoughts. She recommended I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hanna Green who wrote about her own schizophrenia. In that book I found the words to start understanding my feelings about my brother’s illness. Later, I discovered Jungian analysis where I circled into deeper layers. I kept a journal, drew my dreams, and took banjo lessons. Nature became a healing salve when I watched Darwin’s finches build nests on the Galapagos Islands. I worked as a teacher, appreciating differently-challenged children. Then, achieving my license as a counselor, I worked with children using non-verbal play therapy methods, including Jungian sand play. Currently in private practice in Long Beach, California, I work mainly with adults. With courage, they recover their authentic voice.
Linda Joy: What books do you value?
Linda: I consider my stuffed shelves of books as part inspiration, part companion. I dip intuitively in and out of mostly nonfiction books, psychology, memoir, and poetry. I’m rereading The Women We Become: Myths, Folktales and Stories About Growing Older by Ann G. Thomas, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller, Lessons in Becoming Myself , a memoir by actress Ellen Burstyn, The Healing Imagination, the Meeting of Psyche and Soul by Ann and Barry Ulanov, The Great Failure, My Unexpected Path to Truth, a memoir by Natalie Goldberg, and Another Country, Navigating the Emotional Terrain of our Elders by Mary Pipher. At poetry readings my senses delight in rhythms expressed through word and image. I loved hearing my favorite poets in person: Maxine Kumin, David Whyte, Quaker Jeanne Lohmann, Mary Oliver, and Robert Frost.
Linda Joy: What ways do you nurture your writing life?
Linda: When I go to live theater, I notice what makes a captivating scene. I watch the reaction of actors who are not talking. I look at childhood photos and Mom’s old collection of daily diaries to stimulate my memory. Before I begin to write, I often play my cedar flute. I do a movement from Tai Chi to elicit a more balanced spaciousness. The presence of my cat Katherine Gandy comforts me while I write. I value my friends for their objective critiques of my writing. A retreat at Camp Writing Bear in Santa Rosa, CA filled me with inspiration. A weekend retreat led by Linda Joy Myers in Calistoga, CA gave me time and a safe place to write an early draft of a difficult conversation with my mother. For five years I’ve attended a memoir writing class at a community college in Orange, CA. Teacher of the year Dawn Thurston gives right-on suggestions to each of us after we read our story out loud. I like Dawn’s website and blog at www.memoirmentor.org.
Linda Joy: How did you discover NAMW & what made you decide to join?
Linda: Thankfully, I read Linda Joy Myers’ book, Becoming Whole: Writing Your Healing Story. Then I looked her up online. Maureen Murdock was being interviewed that day for NAMW members. Because I liked Maureen’s book, The Heroine’s Journey, I joined immediately! The NAMW teleseminars bring me fresh ideas and companionship in the often isolating work of writing.
About Linda Lacey Missouri:
Linda Lacey Missouri’s fascination for creating words on paper began in earnest when she turned nine. She used hunt-and-peck on the family’s manual typewriter. She told simple stories and jokes. She asked Chicago neighbors and Missouri relatives to pay 2 cents for a carbon copy of My Noodle Scribble. She loved the challenges of being editor in chief of her high school newspaper and assistant press officer for an Anglican society in England. She taught a university extension course in Decisions through Journal Writing and considers herself a reporter, never a writer. One story at a time she is beginning to redefine herself as a writer.
To contact Linda Lacey Missouri, see the article she wrote at www.junginoc.org
This is a great interview, Linda. I learned some things about you I didn’t know. What an interesting, talented person you are. I’m proud to know you and call you my friend.
Linda! I loved your interview. There is never a time when you chat that there isn’t something very worth while to think about, or check out. Thank you for sharing the deeper parts of you and the fun part of you, too.
Linda…I loved the perspetive of not only the outer journey but also the INNER journey. Your interviewe seemed to disclose your enjoyment of the writing path and focus on each step of the journey and not a preoccupation of arriving at a destination. Most enjoyable. I look forward to more.
Linda, what a beautiful interview. But, it only touches on the real Linda. A very gifted writer and always at your best in your writings. You are a mentor to many and we all look up to and inspire to be, like you. I am one of your not so secret fans. Keep up the good work and hope to see more of it soon. I an proud to be a friend of yours.
Linda, you are more than a reporter! You are a very talented writer. Knowing you since joining Dawn’s class has enriched my life and I hungrily await the stories you write for class. I identified with the paragraph regarding your Inner Critic. To stifle this little guy, takes a monumental effort! I am grateful for your writing ability and being my friend.
Linda is an inspiration. As i struggle with my own self-exploration it is inspiring to witness her adventuresome and curious attitude toward discovering her real Self! it isn’t easy to open our eyes to truth.
Linda, My next door neighbor in Chicago,
Your writing is fun to read and you certainly have a grasp of your inner self.
We are in a brave new world of communication, and I sometimes wonder how our humanity will survive. Gifted writers such as you, Linda, will keep it alive by opening themselves and sharing the human experience. Writing your memoir is not only a journey of self-understanding, you are advancing universal connection and are nurturing all of us. Kudos. YaY!
Linda, you’ve come a long way since I knew you in high school and in the church youth group. I commend you on your many growth journeys since then plus your expertise in helping others. Now that we’re 70+ you continue to thrive and share. May it ever be so! Keep in touch.
Linda.. Great interview. An inspiration for me to continue on my writing journey. As you expressed, prefection is not paramount,writing you feelings is personal satisfaction.
Oh Linda, what a trail breaker you are. Your courage to go deeper and deeper,,,,, and jump in again…. It is a true fact that cat friends will go all the way also…..
I love the article and I could hear your heartfelt focus on your journey. Keep up the great writings and we look forward to more.
Linda Missouri’s enthusiasm for living shines through her fresh images, attention to detail, and rhythms that move from brisk to lyric. Linda could write about anything, from Mount Fuji to a dust pan. May she live long and tell many stories. They are good medicine for the world.
Linda Missouri’s enthusiasm for living shines through her fresh images, attention to detail and language beat. She can write engagingly about anything, from Mount Fuji to a dust pan. May she live long and tell many stories. Her writing is good medicine for the world.
Linda…Bless you for all the good you are and do, keep up the good work.
A true joy to read and learn about a friend I am SO blessed to remain connected to for so many years. Do you remember giving me the Ohio Wesleyan souvenir when we worked together at CSULB (even though you graduated 10 years before me)?
I love reading your stuff, especially about the family since I am your sister! You read such meaningful books and lately I have been reading tons of fiction. It’s my get away from reality fun. I keep thinking how much things have changed since mom died in 1985. They wouldn’t even buy a TV until I graduated from High School. Must have thought it would destroy my mind. Keep up the good work. Love, Jean
Aunt Linda, neat interview. What can I say? I wish I could express myself as well as you do! You are a multifaceted, talented person. Looking forward to more. Love you.
It’s interesting to read your interview and get to know more about Linda. I always enjoy being with you, you are a mix of fun and serious observation. You always seem to energize whatever room you are in. Please don’t let that nasty little inner critic get in the way of some very interesting writing.
You have some great advice( “wrestling the memories to the ground” and tactics for dealing with your Inner Critic) I really enjoyed reading about you. Your enthusiasm shines through
Great interview ..Congratulations!
Kathy, I didn’t know how to leave you a direct email message, so I’ll leave my thank you here. I noticed the Kinda was right next door to the Linda on the typewriter keyboard, and you caught it, too. I notice you also left a comment on Dawn’s July interview with a personal example of how Dawn spent time with your own writing. I’m going to re-read your interview from earlier in the year. Maybe we’ll both be listening to the NAMW interview this Friday to hear how to incorporate poetry into our memoir. Keep wrestling your memories to the ground and giving others a lift with your comments. Enthusiastically, Linda Missouri
I am going to try to make it to Friday’s NAMW teleseminar so hopefully we’ll “meet” there!
PS..oops, I see I wrote Kinda. I know you are Linda!
What a great interview! I learned a lot about you. All good things. I always enjoy your writings.They are from the heart and you truly are a mentor to others who write because you do it so well. I read your story about your grandparents and I remember you writing about your cat. Great stories. Great writing. I enjoy being in class with you at Dawn’s. Thanks for sharing a wonderful insightful interview.
Linda, thank you for the courage to reveal the mental illness of your brother. You faced the lion, and became the lion by becoming a therapist. I also especially liked your line, “I grab a memory that’s alive and wrestle it to submission.” I think all of us memoir writers have had to wrestle indeed with their memories. You mentioned that you helped your client find his/her “authentic voice.” Linda, you have achieved your authentic voice–and those of us who read your words, recognize that sincerity Your reading list is extremely valuable and I shall make an effort to find at least The Women we Become by Anne G. Thomas, because you have certainly become Some Woman!
Linda, I wrote another comment on your interview which disappeared into some “moderation” place, but if two from Marta pop up, don’t be surprised! .
Dear Linda, It was interesting learning those details about your life. I didn’t need them to tell me what a warm, loving, caring person you are. When I met you 20 years ago at the women’s retreat in South Dakota I knew all that instantly. I would have liked our paths to cross more in the intervening years but each time they do I am delighted.
Linda, I loved reading your interview. You are the best