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National Association of Memoir Writers  Be Brave. Write Your Story

July 2011 Newsletter | Issue #47

Welcome to the July 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.

We all know that writers often focus on family–but to paraphrase Tolstoy–each family is happy and unhappy indifferent ways–and therein lies the story! Sometimes we can better capture the emotional truths of the family through fiction. The goal of story is to create an emotional experience for the reader. This is controversial of course–memoir is currently in the ascendance as a literary art. People seem to hunger for the factual truths of experience, perhaps to help them understand the realities of their own lives. Through the years, many of us have read fiction for these cues and clues to life, since fiction draws from human experience for its stories. Some writers who begin a memoir decide to turn toward fiction, often because details need to be fictionalized. “Memoir”–a story of truth, isn’t the correct genre when many details are fictionalized. For our July 7th Roundtable discussion this month, we have a memoirist, and a novelist who draws upon her personal experiences.

Jan Fishler and Elizabeth Rosner will speak on the topic of Telling Family Stories Even Though It Hurts. The writing process allows us to create an artistically rendered family story. Jan’s memoir is about her journey to understand her adoption. Through the process of reflecting and searching for herself, she comes to terms with all the parental figures and the missteps that humans make. Elizabeth Rosner, a child of Holocaust victims, draws upon her knowledge of this shadow world to create haunting and poetic fictional stories that reveal truth in its many layers and dimensions. These discussions will continue our focus on truth, fiction, and memory at The National Association of Memoir Writers. I look forward to hearing Jan and Elizabeth talk about these themes and others at the National Association of Memoir Writers July Roundtable. Please join us! It’s free to everyone to call into the Roundtable, listen, and ask questions.

I’m so pleased that this month I’ll “see” Patricia V. Davis, author of the Diva Doctrine, at our NAMW member teleseminar. From time to time, we run into each other at local live California events. We are both teaching and running around and don’t get to talk enough,so finally we’ll be able to catch up on the National Association of Memoir Writers Member Teleseminar July 15, 2011.

Patricia has a great story. A busy blogger, Patricia noticed a trend in attitudes among her readers and fellow bloggers as she followed their posts. The revealing and emotionally vulnerable and honest posts by a particular women got Patricia to thinking. about the lessons she had learned in her life–by the time she was fifty. She wrote a blog called “From an Older Woman to a Younger One.” which struck a cord with readers and went viral. Soon after she got a call from a publisher who asked if she could write a book about the subject. This is one of those lessons from the “blog gods”–it is good to blog, you never know what might happen! Patricia and I will talk about her book, how both our younger and older selves can be the inspiration for memoir and fiction. No doubt we’ll get into the value of blogging.

And if you aren’t already and NAMW, know that this weekend is great time to become a member. In honor of the 4th of July Holiday, we’re offering a membership sale for new and existing members. Become a member for 12 months for a discounted price of $129. Or add 12 months on to your existing membership term for $107. But hurry, as these prices are only good through July 4th!

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

July 2011

Thursday July 7, 2011

July NAMW Public Memoir Writing Roundtable Tele-conversation: Telling Your Family Stories Even When It Hurts with Jan Fishler producer & author & Elizabeth Rosner, best-sellijng author—FREE FOR EVERYONE–CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP NOW!

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!

Friday July 15, 2011Diana Raab

July NAMW Member-only Teleseminar: The Diva Doctrine: Principles Every Memoir Writer Should Know with Patricia V. Davis NAMW Monthly Member-only Teleseminar / Conference Call–become a member to participate for free!CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS!

August 2011
Thursday August 4, 2011

August NAMW Public Memoir Writing Roundtable Tele-conversation: Writing About Your Youth with Oksana Marafioti FREE FOR EVERYONE–MORE DETAILS COMING SOON!

Friday August 12, 2011Diana Raab

August NAMW Member-only Teleseminar: Write Your Memoir This Year with Jennifer Lauck NAMW Monthly Member-only Teleseminar / Conference Call–become a member to participate for free!–MORE DETAILS COMING SOON!

September 2011

Thursday September 8, 2011

September NAMW Public Memoir Writing Roundtable Tele-conversation: Writing About times of Grief with Madeline Sharples and Eleanor Vincent,—FREE FOR EVERYONE–MORE DETAILS COMING SOON!

Friday September 16, 2011Diana Raab

September NAMW Member-only Teleseminar: It’s Just My Story, Does Grammar Really Matter? with Jami Carpenter, the Red Pen Girl. NAMW Monthly Member-only Teleseminar / Conference Call–become a member to participate for free!–MORE DETAILS COMING SOON!

NAMW Featured Member for July 2011!

We are pleased to announce that Dawn Novotny has been selected by the NAMW Advisory Board as the NAMW Featured Member of the month for July 2011! Be sure to visit Dawn’s new blog and sign up to receive updates via email. Her first blog post will appear on July 4, 2011!

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

From Technical Writer to Creative Writer

by Madeline Sharples, Author of Leaving the Hall Light On & WOW! Blog Tour Guest

I worked as a writer/editor and proposal manager in the aerospace business for a total of twenty-eight years. I had a reputation for being a good writer so I got some of the plum jobs – working on newsletters, websites, award applications, and even ghostwriting letters for top managers, but the writing style for any of those tasks was nothing near creative.

However, I learned a lot about writing and revision while working on deadline-oriented, and super stressful proposals. We wrote a little, we edited, we reviewed, and then we revised. And we’d repeat that sequence many times throughout a typical three-month proposal effort. I also taught proposal teams how to write their text, emphasizing the importance of keeping their fingers moving until the writing is finished, then stepping away from their prose for a bit before editing it. I think that advice works for all kinds of writers. If you don’t have another person’s eyes to look at it and edit it for you, leave it be for a while, make yourself a hard copy, take out a red pen, and move to another location in your house. It will be like having a fresh pair of eyes looking at your work.

All that is practical advice. But the actual difference in writing to address technical requirements and writing a creative story or poem or essay is harder to address.

I think the main requirement – at least for me – is that I wanted to make the transition. I had wanted to be a writer since I was in grade school. I studied journalism in high school and wrote feature articles for the high school newspaper. Then I took all the course work toward a degree in journalism in college though I ended up with a degree in English because I transferred schools just before my senior year (that’s a story all its own). So, when I got out of college I wanted in the worst way to write for a magazine or newspaper. After a few attempts I turned to the aerospace industry. I got a positive response after one call and asked, “Do you ever hire people with a degree in English?” Easy, right? But hard on my dream to become a “real” writer.

[Click Here to Read the Full Article]

Summer in Your Writing Life: Writing Prompts for July 2011

Summer means trips to the beach, time off from “regular life,” and dreamy moments of “not doing.” This is a perfect time to dream your book into existence. Journal about the musings that arise  for you as you gaze at the ripples on the lake, or listen to the wind whish of wind in the pine trees at 5,000 feet.

The ocean’s ebb and flow have much to teach us about continuity and the process of change. As word crafters, we need time without words, time to absorb and feel our inner and outer worlds. Time when producing is not the goal–Being is all we need. (tune into John Lennon’s “Let it Be” here.)

As you travel, your trusty journal can capture certain moments that you will not remember a few days later. When I went to France, I took with me a small bound journal that was not heavy and fit into my small daypack. At night I wrote on my iPad with my small portable keyboard–it seems my thoughts fly much faster when I have a keyboard.

Whatever you use to write, resting and musing time is important to your creative life!

Write with Verve–Ideas to Expand Your Skills

  1. List adjectives that describe where you are–use your words as if they were a photograph.
  2. Write a brief description of your activities, even if it’s just eating an ice cream cone, that uses strong verbs–not only the careworn verbs such as from of “to be” or has. Try to avoid “there was” when showing something. Move your sentences around to create interesting ways of describing something. Instead of “the waves were coming in and out” say something like “whitecaps nipped at my feet.”
  3. List all the colors in a scene–but liven up your colors. Instead of just “yellow” try using gold, amber, lemon yellow, burnished bronze. Research how many colors of oil paint are sold in an art store as part of the assignment.
  4. Write a character sketch about a summer day when you were young–a moment of childhood. Then a young adult in your twenties.
  5. Write about who you are now–the interweave a dialogue between yourself at these different ages.

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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