Linda Murphy Marshall
Ivy Lodge: A Memoir of Translation and Discovery
April 6, 2023
4 PM PDT | 5 PM MDT | 6 PM CDT | 7 PM EDT
My memoir began as a 10-page essay, an assignment I completed for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in 2014: “Writing About Nowhere.” Gradually — eight years from essay to completed book — I expanded it to a full-length book of 280 pages, doing numerous drafts in the process, until I felt I had everything “right” —- the tone, the pace, the content, the emotions, the scope.
Most of all, “right” meant telling my personal truth, not as seen through the eyes of parents, siblings, teachers, friends, etc. but through my own eyes. It also meant not telling other family members’ stories, but telling -my- story, for the first time. In that vein, it meant qualifying what I say about other people’s motivations; I can only guess why my parents/siblings/friends did certain things, said certain things. I -can- say authoritatively how they affected me, though.
In the process, in discovering and telling my own truth in my memoir, I found my voice, my identity, my sense of worth.
Instead of submitting my memoir the traditional route, to agents, or to big name publishers, I only submitted it to She Writes Press. The hybrid/independent press model appealed to me, not the traditional route. She Writes Press will also publish my second memoir, due out in August of 2024.
SUMMARY OF IVY LODGE: Following the deaths of her parents in 1998 and 2000, the narrator travels from Maryland in 2000, joining her three siblings in a suburb of St. Louis to ready the childhood home — Ivy Lodge — to be put on the market. Their parents had lived in the same house for over forty years, so the rooms were overflowing with thousands of objects, some of them laden with memories dating back decades, some of these memories long-dormant until that point in time.
The narrator is a translator and a multi linguist by profession, and uses those language skills to “translate” the objects, the events, the memories from her childhood in Ivy Lodge, to decipher those years, to look at them with fresh eyes. In the process, she makes numerous life-changing discoveries and, in the process uncovers her long-buried identity.
Growing up female in a patriarchal, sexist family in the Midwest in the 1960s.
Listening to her own voice, unfiltered.
Discovering one’s identity and self-worth by “re-translating” pivotal experiences
ULTIMATE THEME: Who are we at the end of the day? Are we the stories family and friends have told us and have repeated -about- us? Do we see each other through the filter we have seen our lives since we were born? Are we -others’- interpretations/translations of our lives? Or — as I discovered — are we who -we- decide we are? Are we responsible for translating our own lives?
WHAT MEMBERS WILL GAIN LEARN FROM MY PRESENTATION:
- Writing a memoir as a process of discovery and healing.
- Finding your personal truth through writing.
- Being willing to re-calibrate throughout the writing process, until you find your true voice.
- Developing the courage to write your personal truth in the face of sometimes painful, vocal opposition from friends and family.
- Developing the necessary resilience post-publication of your memoir to involve yourself in the many steps of the publicity and marketing of your book.
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Linda Murphy Marshall has a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literature, an MA in Spanish, and an MFA in Creative Writing. Her memoir, Ivy Lodge: A Memoir of Translation and Discovery received a starred review from Kirkus. Her essays and stories have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, The Catamaran Literary Reader, The Ocotillo Review, Mom Egg Review, Under the Gum Tree, and elsewhere. Two of her paintings were featured in literary magazines.
She is also a Trustee for the National Museum of Language and a docent at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Her second memoir comes out in 2024.