Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
“Craft your story. Grow your soul. Change your world. Come home” The International Women’s Writing Guild mantra, 2017.
I’m thrilled to have attended the 40th Annual IWWG Summer Conference on the beautiful Muhlenberg College campus in Allentown, Pennsylvania where magic occurred amidst the gathering of women writers from all around the world.
About the Guild:
“The International Women Writers Guild (IWWG), founded in 1976, is a network for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing.” You can find out more about it at their newly launched website, The Guild.
This was my fourth conference and has become a summer tradition of writing, inspiration and camaraderie with other women writers.
As always, the best part –gathering with other women for networking, meeting new friends and renewing treasured friendships, laughing, crying, sharing in the spirit of tapping into our creative wells and honoring each other’s stories
The hardest part for me was selecting which sessions to attend. For every session I selected , there were two others I wished I could have attended. That forced me to hone in on the best use of my time.
I chose a different path …
I decide to step out of my comfort zone and try some different sessions this year to nurture my creativity and voice:
“Inviting the Image to Speak: Writing From Soul Collage Cards”:
Author, Poet, Creativity Coach,and Soul Collage Facilitator Judith Prest guided us in making soul collage cards from magazine photos in answer to the following questions:
Who are you?
Where did you come from?
What do you have to tell me?
What do you want from me?
“Soul Collage is a collage making process where we intuitively choose images and then form them into small collages on 5×8 cards. Images have the power to cut to the chase and bring us to the heart of het matter, to our deep center. They can be powerful prompts for writing.” from www.soulcollage.com
Here’s what I came up with for one card. A little boy longing for a father who was not there for him but looks forward with hope…the heart of my work-in-progress memoir, The Edge of Hope: A Mother’s Journey Through Her Son’s Addiction.
“Writing and Producing Your Own Ten-Minute Play or Monologue for the Stage.”
On my way to a memoir writing workshop, I stopped at Poet and Playwright Kelly Dumar‘s workshop.
What? Screenwriting? The idea of seeing an excerpt of my memoir acted out on stage pulled me in and I stayed. Then I experienced Kelly take a pile of words, skillfully and lovingly transforming them into a stage performance. It was magical!
Here’s what I came up with:
Memoir Madness (scene)
A mother at kitchen table staring at her computer, papers strewn over the table. She gets up and paces as a chorus of voices chant.
“What Kinds of Fools (or Shamans) Are We?”
Lisa Freeman, author, poet, writing teacher, weaves in meditation into all her practices because it connects us to our deep wisdom and the clarity and confidence to express it. Here’s a piece that resulted from a free-write prompt, written under the shade of a huge oak tree:
I want to face my fears about writing my story—the fears deep inside that have me skirting around, avoiding and stuffing the pain of the past into hidden spaces.
Shine the light on all those regrets, hard times, piercing feelings; bring them out in the open so they can be examined, perhaps discovered anew and then put in their place.
Let my voice see the light of day—roar, howl, weep, discover, heal, transform –so that the story deep within that is begging to be told will be told and shared for all time.
“When a Woman Writes: Opening Our Eyes, Ears, and Hearts to the Power of Our Words.”
Jan Phillips is a writer, photographer and activist who connects the dots between evolutionary creativity, spiritual intelligence and social action. In other words, she asks, “what are you waiting for? The world needs to hear your words.” She used poetry as prompts for writing and here’s one that resulted from poems by Octavio Taz and Mark Halliday, Before and After. I chose After:
After the dry cough that lingered,
After that December night of not being able to breathe,
After all those trips to the clinic for chemotherapy,
After the trips to Boston for a stem call transplant,
After my bald head, covered in hats for each season,
After the nausea, retching and fatigue,
After all those sleepless nights of uncertainty,
After the scans, needle sticks and Neupogen shots…
You held me close and told me I was beautiful and never stopped believing I would recover.
“Creating with Comedy”:
Anne Waldradt is a freelance teacher, writer and editor who encouraged us to “punch up your writing with humor, make your point stick and create your voice and claim your power.” She reminded me of the importance of weaving in some light into the dark moments.
Then there was the “furious dancing” every night before the evening program:
Jewels of the Journey…
Open Mic where we read a 3-minute sample of our writing to the group, critique sessions where we had the chance to present and receive constructive feedback on our writing from Guild mentors and the Book Sale added to the richness of the experience.
Inspired, enriched, enlightened by a week of laughter, tears and spiritual renewal, I am ready to get back in the flow of my creative journey, to trust in my voice. I’m thinking of a new direction for my work-in-progress memoir, one that will require staying present to myself and letting my story unfold, unhindered.
Thanks for the memories, dear Guild sisters.
How about you? Did you ever try something different and end up getting exactly what you needed? For my Guild sisters, what were the highlights of our conference for you?
I’d love to hear from you. Please join in the conversation below~
“Choosing to Use a Pseudonym for My Memoir by Meg McGuire.”