Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his work.” Virginia Wolff
Preparing for a writer’s conference with a clear set of goals is one of the valuable lessons I have gleaned over these past seven years of attending conferences.
Then life interfered after I returned home when I tripped over a cement bumper on my way out of the massage therapist’s office for my biweekly session, part of my self-care regimen. The next four days were filled with an ambulance ride to my local hospital, X-rays, CT Scans, two surgeries and a left arm cast. My left wrist and forearm were shattered in three places.
It’s true. “Life is what happens when you’re planning something else.”
I have six weeks of healing ahead–no driving, and limited use of left arm and hand. I write this blog post with my good right hand as I await a surgical repair with plates and screws.
I promised you some highlights now that I’ve had some time to reflect and absorb the “magic” of the Guild:
Well-known Memoir Author and Teacher Maureen Murdock presented “The Art of Memoir” covering carnality (use of sensory detail), character development, dialogue, structure, ethics and liability
Maureen presented a comprehensive review of memoir with a focus on carnality–bringing characters and events alive to the reader through scenic details, character development, voice, structure, reflection and takeaways.
After each writing exercise, she prompted us to answer these three questions as a way of digging deeper into our stories:
- What do I know now that I didn’t know then?
- How do feel?
- What more do I want to find out?
The overall goal is to deepen the characters, create believable dialogue and have a clear takeaway message.
Author and Visionary Thought Leader, Jan Phillips, explored “Stop Learning, Start Knowing”, challenging us to believe in our voices and to use them in meaningful ways to change the world; to awaken to our own sacredness and to master the ordeal so as to transform to gratitude.
She challenged us with questions, such as:
- In what form can your words be of use to the world?
- Are you aware of your gifts?
- What energies or actions do you aspire to?
And encouraged us to “love ourselves back into healing”.
Perhaps, the most important message:
The world needs your story. What are you waiting for?
Author and Writing Teacher, Eunice Scarfe invited us to “bring our reader into our lived experience” by focusing on structure in her workshop, “Writing Adrift”.
“Stop the narrative and get in touch with feelings vs informing or summarizing.”
She believes that “in every person lives an artist: a creator, a maker, a person driven by the desire and need to express.”
After each writing exercise, she encouraged us to draw a line and write, “Well done,….”
Suzi Banks Baum is an artist, actress, writer, teacher, community organizer, and mom. She’s passionate about helping women find their creative voice and live focused, joy-filled lives. I attended her “Mapping Motherhood” workshop where she guided us through a meditation and then on to a “messy”, mixed media exercise where we drew, colored, collaged our way through a home in our past as a way of tapping into our memories. I chose my childhood home:
As you can see, it is messy but it conjured up many childhood memories to recapture in story.
Kathleen O’Shea is a former nun and author of Women on the Row:Revelations From Both Sides of the Bars. Her workshop was”Writing From Your Religious Past”. Her prompt was a page of religious terms, “priest, rabbi, chalice, synagogue, etc” from which we circled five terms and began writing. The prompt took me to the memory of my First Communion Day where my dad had to carry me up the church steps because I had Rheumatic Fever and couldn’t exert myself. Upon reflection, the embarrassment I felt that day melted into a deep sense of gratitude for Dad’s compassion and gentleness.
A highlight for me in meeting Kathleen is to hear about her work with a women’s shelter in Rochester, New York. Due to the bare-bones nature of dorm living, the IWWG staff bought blankets, towels and desk lamps at the local Target’s. We then purchased the items for our rooms and decided to donate them to Kathleen’s shelter when we left–one example of the spirit of the Guild.
The only downside was not being able to attend other fabulous workshops. The magic and lessons of the week are still with me as I transition back to day-to-day life where I remain committed to nurturing my creativity, despite the broken bones.
How about you? What are some highlights from writer’s conferences you have attended?
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below~
Congratulations, Joan Rough. Your name was selected in a random drawing of commenters to receive Sean Conroy’s memoir, Through the Eyes of a Young Physician’s Assistant!
“How Rock “N Roll Inspires Me In My Writing: A WOW Blog Tour with David Berner. Davis is the author of a debut novel, Night Radio: A Love Story. He will offer a book giveaway to a commenter whose name will be selected in a random drawing.
“How Ghostwriters Help Memoirists” by CS Streetlights.
CS Streetlights is a ghostwriter and the author of a memoir, Tea and Madness, and has graciously offered to give away a copy to a commenter whose name will be selected in a random drawing.