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National Association of Memoir Writers  Be Brave. Write Your Story

April 2011 Newsletter | Issue #44

Welcome to the April 2011 NAMW Newsletter

Welcome to all of our new and existing NAMW members and to the new subscribers to our newsletter! We love connecting with you and learning about your memoir writing life, challenges and questions.

I’m excited to host another f.ree, day-long, telephone based TeleseminarClick Here to Learn More. As I write my new book, Truth or Lie: On the Cusp of Memoir and Fiction, I’ve been involved in the current conversation on the web, and in books and blogs about the rules, definitions, and confusion governing memoir, creative nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, personal essay and the “new journalism.”  The ongoing conversation includes some of these controversial topics:

  1. How much can you change “the truth” in your memoir and still call it nonfiction?
  2. Are there silent but real governing rules when you submit your work for publication regarding literal truth and fact vs. subjective truth and interpretation?

[Click Here to Read More on this Topic]

We are looking forward to a terrific April with the Tele-summit on April 8th, 2011 and Dr. Eric Masiel, speaking on the topic of Mastering Writing Anxiety for the NAMW Member-only Teleseminar on April 15th (please note, this is a scheduling change). Click here for additional details about this event.

And we are still accepting applications for guest writers, bloggers and featured NAMW Members. Be sure to click here to learn more.

Based on feedback we’ve received from our NAMW members and subscribers, we are currently in the process of switching our email service providers so that are able to offer more customized messages, for NAMW members and newsletter subscribers. In order for this to be a success, we need you to watch your inbox for an email from us that will be sent using the mail service, Feedblitz. After you open it, be sure to follow the instructions so you will continue to receive our newsletters and updates. If you don’t see the email in the coming days, please be sure to check your spam folder or email us at info@namw.org for further assistance.

Once you sign up for this new service, you’ll be given specific options regarding the types of emails that you would like to receive from us. We hope that these improvements will vastly improve your experience as an NAMW Member or email subscriber.

I hope you can join us for our f.ree telesummit on April 8th! Be sure to sign up if you have not done so already.

My quote for the month comes from our Headline Speaker at the Telesummit, Sue William Silverman:

“I believe that memoirs from the home front feed our hunger for knowledge about our world, I have finally decided to embrace the words “inspirational” and “confessional” in order to own them. I am now proud to call myself a writer of confessional literature—fearless literature.” Sue William Silverman from her book Fearless Confessions.

Remember–be brave, write your stories!

Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFT

NAMW President & Founder

Upcoming NAMW Events

We have several events and new workshops that are being planned for the coming months at NAMW that will be helpful to the development of your skills as writers, memoirists, or personal historians. You can find all the finalized events for April outlined below, but please be sure to visit the NAMW website often for new additions!

NAMW Day-Long Writing Tele-Seminar: Friday April 8, 2011: Creative Nonfiction and Memoir: Craft, Ethics, and Process– 5 Sessions with Audio Recordings of Each Session Available for ALL Pre-registrants & NAMW Members! Cost: FREE for EVERYONE: Pre-Registration Required–Click Here to Learn More! | Can’t Make the Live Event? Click Hereto Receive an Audio Recording of each Session!

Session 1

Legal & Ethical Issues in Creative Nonfiction & Memoir with Robert Pimm, Director of Legal Services for California Lawyers for the Arts| Start Time: 10:00 AM PDT | 11:00 AM MDT | Noon CDT | 1:00 EDT | Session Length: 1 Hour


Fearless Confessions in Creative Nonfiction & Memoir with Sue William Silverman, Author of Fearless Confessions: A Writers Guide to Memoir and two memoirs | Start Time: 11:15 AM PDT | 12:15 PM MDT | 1:15 PM CDT | 2:15 PM EDT | Session Length: 1 Hour


Creative Nonfiction in the Publishing World with Brooke Warner, Senior Editor at Seal Press and writing coach and publishing consultant | Start Time:12:30 PM PDT | 1:30 PM MDT | 2:30 PM CDT | 3:30 PM EDT | Session Length: 1 Hour


Creative Nonfiction & Memoir–A Journey to the Self with Kay Adams, Direct of the Center for Journal Therapy & the Therapeutic Writing Institute| Start Time: 1:45 PM PDT | 2: 45 PM MDT | 3: 45 PM CDT | 4:45 PM EDT | Session Length: 1 Hour


Finding Truths by Writing Personal Essays with Sheila Bender, Featured Writer and Columnist at Writer’s Digest and Publisher of WritingItReal.com Start Time: 3:00 PM PDT | 4:00 PM MDT | 5:00 PM CDT | 6:00 PM EDT | Session Length: 1 Hour

April NAMW Member-only Teleseminar April 15, 2011: Mastering Writing Anxiety with Dr. Eric Maisel, author of Mastering Creating Anxiety| Cost: FREE FOR NAMW MEMBERS | Become a member

NAMW Featured Members

We are pleased to announce that Ruth Zaryski Jacksonhas been selected by the NAMW Advisory Board as the NAMW Featured Member of the month for April 2011! You can visit the NAMW website to read our interview with Ruth and watch for her guest blog post coming soon to NAMW!

Congratulations, Ruth!  We are very proud to have you as an NAMW member!

Please also visit the NAMW to read about our Featured Member for February, Mary Knippel, and our Featured Member for March, Kristine Woodworth.

My Amazing Conversation with Mark Matousek

by Linda Joy Myers, NAMW Founder and President

I knew that I’d enjoy my conversation with Mark Matousek at the National Association of Memoir Writers monthly teleseminar to discuss writing a spiritual memoir the other day, but I had no idea of the magic that would happen on the call. I’m often the one who helps to guide people to write about the darker moments of life in their memoir, and sometimes I feel that my voice is alone in the wilderness—such a point of view is not all that popular. After all, don’t we all want to just write about the happy times? Don’t we all try to avoid the dark stuff because it is a drag, it’s painful, and we hope it will all go away if we don’t think about it? So it was a surprise to me find in this first “meeting” with Mark, someone with whom I’d never spoken until the teleseminar, to discover that he’s a person who’s journeyed into the dark forests of life, and has come out again with a great deal of wisdom about the journey that can enlighten the rest of us.

Mark grew up without a father in an emotionally stressed family situation, and later was diagnosed with a life threatening illness. When he wrote his first memoir Sex, Death, and Enlightenment, he thought it would be his last. “I had to get everything in that book; I was also learning how to write. My next book was easier, because I knew how to focus and choose.” He sees the journey into the tough places as a way to find redemption. He says, “You can’t get to the truth by half measures. You have to write it all out, all the secrets and the pain, and then you will find your awakening.”

[Click Here to Read the Full Article]

Writing Prompts for April 2011

Writing from the body

When you write emotional material, it helps to center yourself into the time, place, and physical space of your narrator. Or if you are writing close to the inside of the body and through the eyes of yourself as a younger version than yourself, it is important to “embody” yourself at that time and place.

Writing personal stories requires a kind of meditation, a focused entry into the point of view of you—the main character of the memoir.

  1. Write through the eyes of you at a certain age. Close your eyes and visualize yourself at that age—the size of your hands, feet, arms and legs. The clothes you wore, the style of shoes, hair etc.
  2. Use “I” in present tense to write your scene. Write another version using past tense. Which do you prefer for that scene?
  3. Write a scene of a significant memory that has stayed with you all your life. Be IN the scene—give us colors, smells, sounds, and the feeling of a specific time and place.
  4. Write about your bodily reactions to something that changes in the scene.
  5. Does this scene have a resolution? If it does, write it. How do your feelings change?

Setting as character

When you write about people, the action takes place at a certain time and in a certain place. It is important to sense and feel that time and place as part of the verisimilitude of the story, the things that make the reader enter into what John Gardner calls “the fictive dream.” He was talking about fiction creating a whole world, but as memoir writers, as we move into our story from within it to seeing it as through a movie camera, we create a kind of “memory dream.” Through your words, you recreate a time and a place and bring it to life.

  1. Write about the town you grew up in; the neighborhood; the state.
  2. Write about the weather. Make it a character in a scene.
  3. Start with a sunny day—bring in emotional change or shock. Show how the humidity, the feel of the wind or rain or sun helps to show a change in mood so you bring it alive in the scene without “telling” us about it.
  4. Show landscape, details such as city vs. country, smells, tastes, sounds, kinesthetic sense of the world.

Events Outside of NAMW

Professional Writers of Prescott 2011 Writing Contest

Professional Writers of Prescott (PWP) is pleased to announce their call for entries for the 2011 Writing Contest for Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry.

Monetary prizes will be awarded in each category for first, second and third place winners of original work, not previously published. All winners will be invited to read from their entries at the November meeting for Professional Writers of Prescott . Deadline: May 31, 2011.

The Center for Journal Therapy Therapeutic Writing Institute: Spring Term Begins April 4, 2011

Course W523.1 The Power of Memoir

Instructor: Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D.

You’ll learn an 8-step plan to create your own memoir, experiment with writing exercises that will demonstrate how writing your truth and shaping your narrative can propel you toward life-changing discoveries, and learn lots of tips, techniques and tools for your own personal or group work.

REQUIRED TEXT: The Power of Memoir: How to Write Your Healing Story, Linda Joy Myers

Please Click Here to Learn More! Spring Session Term: April 4 – May 27

California Writer’s Club-Berkeley Branch

Writer’s Workshop with Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D.

May 8, 2011 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM

More details coming soon!

Subscribe to Memories and Memoirs to be notified when details are available!

My Life is Just Not That Interesting

by David W. Berner, Author of Accidental Lessons: A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed

The poet, Billy Collins, once said, “My poetry is suburban, it’s domestic, it’s middle class, and it’s sort of unashamedly that, but I hope there’s enough imaginative play in there that it’s not simply poems about barbecuing.” Collins was acknowledging, even celebrating, the accessibility of his writing and how it is perfectly okay with him, and apparently his readers, that what he has to say in his poetry would never be labeled fantastical. His wonderfully placed words rarely take on the kind of subject matter tackled by so many memoirs: the incredible odyssey of climbing the Himalayas, the emotions of living in a war zone, the raw reality of beating the incredible odds of a devastating disease, or the brave struggles of living through domestic violence. Instead, you might say Collins writes with John Updike’s words ringing in his head. On one occasion, Updike said it was his duty “to give the mundane its beautiful due.”

So many times during the writing workshops, seminars, or the undergraduate classes I teach, students will dismiss their personal stories, saying, “I haven’t lived a fascinating enough life. Why would anyone want to read my story?” And my answer is always the same: personal stories, memoir, personal documentary does not have to be about the fantastical. It can be about anything that has warmed your heart, shaken your soul, changed your point-of-view, or forced you to rethink your loves, your hates, your relationships, your career, and your life as you know it. Good memoir is not about what happens, but how well the writer reflects on what has happened. All of us who have written or simply read personal stories know that the ones that resonate the most are those that reflect with great insight on our shared human condition. It’s not about the facts of a story, it’s how the writer is able to step away, observe those facts, and interpret what it all means.

[Click Here to Read More]

Visit ThePowerOfMemoir.com for more details.

Keep writing! If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a workshop, teleseminar or roundtable topic please let us know. Email us at: info@namw.orgThank you very much for your support of the National Association of Memoir Writers!

Warm regards,

Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFT

President & Founder

National Association of Memoir Writers


Remember, be brave. Write your stories!

National Assocation of Memoir Writers | 1700 Solano Ave | Berkeley, CA 94707
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