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National Association of Memoir Writers  Be Brave. Write Your Story

June 2011 Newsletter | Issue #46

Welcome to the June 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.

A Travel Memoir project—does that make you want to pore over travel guides and maps? Does your suitcase beg to be brought out and filled with vacation clothes? Where in the world do you want to go? You can not only have a vacation, you can do “research” for your next book, article, or memoir. And get paid for it.

My cat Squeaky is enjoying my new green suitcase as I prepare for my trip to France. Oui, the land of Paris, centuries of history, Provence, and the Mediterranean Sea. The land of ancient traditions, wine and cheese, and of course, great art—the list goes on. Squeaky is probably not too happy to be alone for a few days, but I’m ready to have an adventure. As a writer, I’ve prepared for the trip carefully—I got an iPad with its Bluetooth keyboard so I can write easily without carrying a heavy computer. For my trips to England, Czechoslovakia and Germany a few years ago, I grew weary with the heavy computer along with suitcases and bags, though I started my novel again in the Adlon Hotel in Berlin on that computer. I was researching a WWII novel, and being “in” the landscape of place—the topic of our Roundtable this month—was fantastic. I could feel, imagine, and sense the history that I was learning.

I had a particular project that I wanted to learn about, but let’s say you want to visit France for fun, and you’re a writer. What might you do to enhance your writing life and enjoy France at the same time?

First, know that whatever your raw material is, you can create several pieces from it. It’s like cooking. You make a main dish, let’s say vegetables, tomatoes, and chicken. One night you might add spicy Mexican flavors, and on another, Italian herbs, and so forth. Verna Dreisbach, a literary agent, speaks about the need for us to be able to branch several stories off of one experience.  As I go to Paris, I think about how many different pieces I might be able to create as I wander and observe that amazing city.

Perhaps I will write a memoir piece, exploring my feelings about being there—how it feels to be on the Occupation Tour, what it’s like to view the Impressionists in their own city, to walk where they walked, and view the art they created. What will the view be like at the top of the Eiffel Tower? What kind of people will I meet? Rick Steves calls traveling our personal diplomacy opportunity.

I could use different voices to write about the history of Paris, drawing upon memoir and historical facts—it might be an essay or a nonfiction piece. Perhaps I could capture some photo essays and put them on a blog. Or begin writing a fictional story that is evoked by my experiences in Paris. How about a poem based on having a café au lait where Hemingway used to write? As a writer, I’m keeping an open mind, eager to find new subjects, descriptions, and tales that will fill my imagination and my writing.

This month’s Roundtable, today, June 9th is about travel, which fits right in with my current interest. I’ll give you all a report on how Paris changed my writing life when I get settled back in.

Be sure to mark your calendar for our FREE Memoir Writing Summer School Preview Teleseminar on May 13th with Mark Matousek as we discuss our upcoming summer workshops at NAMW!

I’m looking forward to my conversation with Mark, as well as my conversation with Diana Raab on Friday June 17th as we discuss Healing with Words as our topic for our June Member-only Teleseminar.

Remember–be brave, write your stories!


Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFT

NAMW President & Founder

Upcoming 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 May & June outlined below, but please be sure to visit the NAMW website often for new additions!

Thursday June 9, 2011

June NAMW Public Memoir Writing Roundtable Tele-conversation: Travel Writing & Memoir with Alexis Grant, The Traveling Writer & Elizabeth Evans, Literary Agent—FREE FOR EVERYONE–CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP NOW!

Monday June 13, 2011Summer Workshop Preview

Summer Workshop Preview: Write your Story Now: Memoir Writing Summer School–Inspiration and Craft with Mark Matousek & Linda Joy Myers—FREE FOR EVERYONE—CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP NOW!

Friday June 17, 2011Diana Raab

June NAMW Member-only Teleseminar: Healing with Words with Diana Raab NAMW Monthly Member-only Teleseminar / Conference Call–become a member to participate for free!CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS!

June 21, 22 & 23, 2011Diana Raab

Memoir Writing Summer Tele-Workshop on Craft: Writers Toolkit–Journeying into Memoir Land: Skill Building for Memoir Writers with Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFTClick Here to Learn More!

6 Tuesdays beginning June 28th through August 7thDiana Raab

Advanced Memoir Writing & Healing Summer Tele-Workshop with Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFTemail info@namw.org to learn more!

6 Wednesdays beginning July 13th through August 17thsummer writing school

Memoir Writing ONLINE Workshop with Mark Matousek: Spiritual Memoir: The Art of Self InquiryClick Here to Learn More!

NAMW Featured Member of the Month

We are pleased to announce that Sue Rowland has been selected by the NAMW Advisory Board as the NAMW Featured Member of the month for June 2011! You can visit the NAMW website to read our interview with Sue!

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

Writing Travel Memoir: What if Your Story Arc Isn’t Clear from the Get-Go?

by Alexis Grant, Journalist & NAMW June Roundtable Expert

One of travel memoir’s most important elements is personal growth and how it drives your story arc.

But what if you don’t recognize that story arc from the beginning? What if you have a story to tell, but you’re not sure how you grew along the way or the best way to portray that to the reader?

Here’s my advice: Start writing anyway.

The beauty of memoir is that the process of writing reveals insight you’d never expect. Writing helps us find meaning in our experiences, understand the whys behind those events, and see more clearly how we’ve changed because of it all.

When I’d written at least half a dozen chapters of my travel memoir, I saw down with my writing partner to figure out how my personal growth would fit into the story. Or, more accurately, what my personal growth even was. I’d changed in so many ways while backpacking solo through Africa that it was difficult for me to see which thread was most important.

“Maybe you weren’t sure whether you could do this trip on your own,” my critique partner suggested, “and you learned that you could. Did you gain confidence in yourself?”

I chuckled. That would’ve made sense for most narratives. But, the adamantly independent twenty-something that I was, I’d started out overconfident, without a doubt that I could accomplish the trip on my own. Traveling alone in Africa had turned out to be more difficult – not easier – than I expected. “It was actually the opposite,” I told Peggy. “I think I learned that I can’t do everything by myself.”

[Click Here to Read the Full Article]

Writing Prompts for June 2011

  1. Write about a place that tickled your imagination. Where were you, what smells, sounds, and colors create the atmosphere of this place?
  2. While on vacation, write a poem, an essay and a brief fictional story about the landscape.
  3. Write a piece based on your imagination—a place you have not visited but which invites you. What is it about this place that intrigues you? What do you know about its history?
  4. Revisit the houses where you have lived. Journal about what the house is like now, then write a scene about something that occurred when you lived there.
  5. Write from a photo of a place that you enjoyed visiting. Describe it fully, then allow your imagination to fill out experiences you had there. Write about the people you met; imagine their lives before and after you met them.

Events & Contests Outside of NAMW

Room Magazine’s Annual Fiction, Poetry & Creative Nonfiction Contest for 2011


Room is currently accepting submissions from women for its

2011 Annual Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Non-Fiction Contest.

First prize in each category: $500, 2nd prize: $250, plus

winners will be published in the summer 2012 issue of Room.

Entries will be judged by: Amber Dawn (fiction), Elizabeth

Bachinsky (poetry) and Susan Juby (creative non-fiction).

Entry fee includes a one-year subscription to Canada’s oldest

literary journal by and about women. Online submission option

makes entering quick and easy. Deadline: July 15, 2011.

Scribing the Soul: Transforming Your Life Through the Power of Writing

Featuring Kay Adams and the Center for Journal Therapy Practitioners

September 23-24th, 2011

Colorado Heights University

Early bird registration $99 until July 31st

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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