I just returned to the Bay Area after spending a week in North Carolina where I taught memoir writing at the Journal Therapy conference led by Kay Adams—she started the center for Journal Therapy. I arrived after a long day of flying in the rain to a misty, lushly green Kanuga retreat center. For five days, writers, teachers, and newly certified journal therapists had a reunion-lovefest exploring writing stories and poetry and mindful journaling. The gathering of over 100 people celebrated the thirty-year anniversary of Kay Adams’ groundbreaking work in using journal writing as a healing modality.
Natasha Treathaway, Poet Laureate of the US, whose collection Domestic Work won the Pulitzer Prize was the keynote speaker, inspiring us with her autobiographical poems about race and language, and the edges of society. She said, “Memory is a narrative always being revised.” In her poems and the memoir she’s writing now she blends public history and private history—she’s interested in the intersections between the two, a topic that memoir writers wrestle with.
There were workshops on journaling, stories, poetry, and book arts. Those who attended my pre-conference memoir workshop eagerly dug into the truths of their lives, and learned about craft. Most of all, they were compassionate witnesses to each other’s stories. I’m returning renewed and ready to finish my new memoir—title to come soon–and start teaching a new Write your Memoir in Six Months course in June with my colleague Brooke Warner.
Afterward I visited the town of Asheville, and stayed in my first “airbnb” with a welcoming and creative family—what a magic town of artists, writers, and musicians! I came upon a book reading at Malaprops bookstore just as I walked into town, and ended up asking the author to join me for a Roundtable discussion of his memoir. On Facebook I saw that Linda W. a buddy from the Story Circle conference a few years ago, happened to be in Asheville too, so we chatted about our new books at a bookstore-wine bar! Social media was a very handy friend that day!
At the National Association of Memoir Writers, we’re starting our annual Memorial Day sale on May 28–a great opportunity to get involved with other memoir writers at our monthly member teleseminars and our popular group coaching calls. We are having so much fun in there talking about the titles and themes of everyone’s story, and sharing tips about writing and publishing. The community that’s created online often ends up being people you meet in “real life”—something that happened over and over against last week. Join us for discussions, support and cheering on as you write your stories.