* This is a FREE event *
Starts: 10 AM PDT/1PM EDT
Ends: 2 PM PDT/5 PM EDT
Gayle Brandeis–Writing Our Most Necessary Stories: A Conversation with Memoirist Gayle Brandeis
John Evans–Memoir Writing to Invite Renewal and Reshape Your Brain
Marion Roach Smith–Writing in the Time of #MeToo
Susan Boggs – The Power of Sharing your Message in the Digital Era
This is a teleconference—by phone. It will be recorded.
As many of you know by now, we’re living in an era where people are speaking out louder and together are challenging the old rules of staying silent and “being good.” Perhaps it’s the era of social media that has helped this happen, or perhaps it’s because more and more people have discovered that continuing in silence only perpetuates the cycles of violence, abuse, and more silencing. Another reason may have to do with a kind of critical mass of people writing and speaking out through memoir and personal essays. The issue of “the truth” appears in nearly every headline and on many Facebook posts. People are asking “do I dare speak my truth–for the first time?” People are saying, “What can be worse than forced silence, shame, and despair? I need to find my voice, I need to use it and speak my truth.”
Many of you have been struggling with writing your memoir, which is done in private for many months and years before being published, but you still struggle with what to say, what will people think, and with examining what is truth, what is my truth, and when am I free to express it. Everyone’s family and background has its silences and secrets, and of course not everything that has happened needs to be expressed. There is privacy, which is different from secrets. Still, in our work we are striving for healing, and a sense of empowerment with our words. We struggle with worry about hurting someone or someone suing us.
Despite all these obstacles, it’s clear to me that there is a force sweeping us into creative ventures, that there is a yearning to express ourselves, a need to capture and tell our stories. In a recent webinar, Dani Shapiro said, “It’s a generous thing to take the chaos of our lives and shape it for a reader to receive. You are curating your story, choosing what details you can craft into something with meaning. It’s a gift to offer the world.”
During this teleconference, we’ll be listening to inspiring discussions about writing memoir, learning about the new research about writing and healing, and digging deep into permission to go public with our stories. You will learn how you can develop your story and your social media outreach–and still have fun doing it! Read more to learn about the wisdom presented by Gayle Brandeis, John Evans, Marion Roach Smith, and Susan Boggs.
I look forward to learning from all our presenters too.
10 AM PDT | 1 PM EDT
The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide, is the hardest and most necessary book that novelist and poet Gayle Brandeis has ever written. Gayle’s mother took her own life one week after Gayle gave birth to her youngest child. In her searing, formally inventive memoir, Gayle describes the dissonance between being a new mother, a sweet-smelling infant at her chest, and a grieving daughter trying to piece together what happened, who her mother was, and all she had and hadn’t understood about her.
Around the time of her suicide, Gayle’s mother had been working on a documentary about the rare illnesses she thought ravaged her family. In The Art of Misdiagnosis, taking its title from her mother’s documentary, Gayle braids together her own narration of the charged weeks surrounding her mother’s suicide, transcripts of her mother’s documentary, research into delusional and factitious disorders, and Gayle’s own experience with misdiagnosis. The resulting memoir is both a compelling search into the mystery of one’s own family and a life-affirming story of the relief discovered through breaking familial and personal silences. Written by a gifted stylist, The Art of Misdiagnosis delves into the tangled mysteries of disease, mental illness, and suicide and comes out the other side with grace.”
We will talk about:
- Finding the courage to tell our hardest, most necessary stories
- Striking a balance between catharsis and art
- Exploring the complexities of writing about family
- Preparing ourselves psychologically to put painful stories in the world
Gayle Brandeis is the author, most recently, of the memoir The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide, and the poetry collection The Selfless Bliss of the Body. Her other books include Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write, and several novels, most notably The Book of Dead Birds, which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction. Her work has appeared in such places as The Washington Post, The Rumpus and Salon, and has received numerous honors, including a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016. She teaches at Sierra Nevada College and Antioch University Los Angeles.
Memoir Writing to Invite Renewal and Reshape Your Brain
In this teleseminar you will learn how memoir writing, especially about trauma or chronic illness, can help you to heal.
We’ll discuss two book-long illness narratives and how writing helped quiet anger and create hope for the writers. Aside from the healing aspects of expressive writing, I’d like to talk about how writing life stories can help reshape our brain, and the caveat that recent brain research carries with it for the memoir writer. From his research, neuropsychologist Rich Hanson suggests a practice that includes taking in the good in small bits, one good thing at a time. This could be especially useful for maintaining memoir writers’ health.
It can be a freeing framework for writers to think of the memoir as a mosaic. As you know, we don’t have to have the whole book in mind when we begin a memoir. We can begin by simply creating little shiny bits of writing that we may come back to later in order to shape them and place them into a cohesive and coherent order that conveys a large slice of a life. Sometimes these shiny bits are like fragments, a paragraph, a page, a short story, a sketch, a dialogue. Taken as a whole the shiny bits make a complete portrait.
We will engage in some writing activities to bring out some shiny bits and to care for our health while writing.
In this discussion you will learn:
- How writing your true story can change your brain for the better
- About the current brain research and how memoir writers can benefit from this
- That writing positive stories helps as much, or more, than painful stories
- That writing small pieces are valuable for creating your story and your health
Evans works with groups, individuals, and health care professionals, teaching them how to use writing for better physical, emotional, and spiritual health. He taught journaling and writing for self-development for over thirty years. With James Pennebaker, Evans co-authored Expressive Writing: Words that Heal (2014). His book, Wellness & Writing Connections: Writing for Better Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health is a collection of essays from the Wellness & Writing Connections Conference Series (2007 – 2010). Evans is a faculty member of 1440 Multiversity in Santa Cruz, CA and leads an online expressive writing project, Pen My Path, for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Marion Roach Smith
12 PM PDT | 3 PM EDT
This teleseminar will respond to the remarkable change in what is currently being written by memoirists. The #MeToo movement has created a climate of perceived permission to tell one’s tale. But which tale to tell, when still, the feeling of enforced silence engulfs us? Men, women, the gender non-conforming and trans-persons alike are writing more and yet struggling, despite the seeming lifting of the ban on speaking out. The conversation will include the obstacles to writing about all topics that are considered difficult with the goal of finding ways to write what you know.
- Writing about family
- Writing about secrets
- The need for therapeutic support
- The complex issue of gaslighting
- The freedom to publish – and the freedom to not publish
Marion Roach Smith is the author of four mass-market books, including The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Test on Writing & Life, now in its eighth printing. A former staffer at The New York Times, she’s written for The New York Times Magazine, Prevention, The Daily News, Vogue, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living, Discover and The Los Angeles Times. She has been a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered and a talk show host on Sirius Satellite Radio. She currently runs a writing lab called The Memoir Project and teaches memoir worldwide.
New structure course link: www.howtowritememoir.com
1 PM PDT | 4 PM EDT
The Power of Sharing your Message in the Digital Era
We often speak of the power of memoir writing, and how unlocking your past and writing your life story can be healing and powerful. Completing your manuscript and publishing your story are just the beginning. The next step in your writing journey involves cultivating an audience, and that often means using online tactics to build your readership–and helps you share your creative work more widely.
In this session, we’ll cover how digital marketing can help budding authors craft a way to connect with readers online.
In this overview, we’ll discuss:
- What is digital marketing? Hint: it’s not just social media, and you don’t need to be a celebrities or businesses to succeed.
- Why you shouldn’t rely solely on Facebook for growing your author platform.
- How to attract new readers and create a list of fans who are interested in your story.
- The Four Pillars of Engaging Successfully Online
Author-focused digital marketing doesn’t have to take inordinate amounts of time. You just need a solid plan for doing the right things at the right time. And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your story will reach others, and change their lives.
Susan Boggs is NAMW’s Marketing Manager and a digital marketing consultant. She has 13 years of marketing experience, with over 10 years in creating digital marketing strategies for clients ranging from global businesses, tech startups, associations to speakers, consultants, authors. She was named a top digital influencer in Kansas City in 2010, and was one of a dozen featured moms for the launch of 30 Second Mom, providing digital tips to women online.