This and That

This is one of those “little of this and that” type posts, kind of like show and tell at school or concocting soup in the kitchen from a variety of ingredients. I just wanted to share a few things…

I’m excited! A memoir piece I wrote was accepted in an anthology, Back to School 2013 Memoir Anthology. It’s now out on Amazon. My piece is called, “Confessions of a High School Social Phobic”. If you like writing memoir or would like to try your hand, there’s another call for submissions with a November deadline. You can find out more in the post over at the Karenzo Media blog.

Despite the craziness of my chaotic life, I’ve managed to read a couple of books too. One of the books, In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant, is a novel set in the Renaissance period. The two main characters are the courtesan and a dwarf. The two flee tragic circumstances in Rome and move to Venice, overcoming much so the courtesan’s business flourishes again. The story is told through the eyes of the dwarf, which offers an interesting perspective.

This book kept my interest all the way through the end. This author is so good at being descriptive, that it’s easy to visualize the settings and the characters. I won’t spoil the ending, in case you decide to read it, but I will say it didn’t end the way I thought it was going to. I enjoyed it! (the book, not the ending) It’s the second book I’ve read by this author, The Birth of Venus being the first.

The other book was a memoir I’ve had on my wish list for awhile, Loose Girl : A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen. It’s a memoir about a woman’s journey from promiscuity to learning how to have a real intimate relationship and how to love herself. She runs through guy after guy and pays the consequences for her actions through loss of friendships, chances at real love, degradation of self, and disease. There’s no fairy tale ending, but like the rest of us, I think it’s about self discovery and always trying to do better.

I think the author is brave for writing truthfully about such a taboo subject, but I was troubled so much I almost stopped reading the book a time or two. It wasn’t the promiscuity causing me such a problem, but the references to drug use interspersed throughout the book. There were parts as well, where her actions seemed shallow and selfish. I know that sounds so judgmental and I know none of us are perfect, but it’s my opinion as a reader. It was interesting enough and I wanted to understand more, so I did finish the book and I was glad I did. She’s bluntly honest.

Memoirs are one of my favorite things to read and write lately. Here’s a neat list I ran across of suggested memoirs to read. It’s by a woman who teaches memoir classes. The post is Writing Memoir? Read Memoir. Here’s a good article over at the Huffington Post by Linda Joy Myers, PhD. with tips on writing memoir too. One final tidbit I’ll leave you with is a quote I ran across. It’s a good one if you’re ever sitting there having guilt that you should be cleaning rather than writing… “At worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”—Rose Macaulay. I love it! 🙂

Books and More

It’s been way too long since I’ve blogged and I do miss it. I won’t start with any apologies or false promises of blog posts becoming more regular soon. My life is just in an emotional chaotic state right now…being a caregiver and having a multitude of unanswerable questions about the future. I’m doing the moment by moment living thing and never know what each day will bring.

I’m still writing and thought I’d just share some of the things I’ve run across lately. I just finished reading a fantastic book I found at the library last week. My mother came for a visit and it was the first trip I’ve had to the library in a long time. The book was Pain, Parties, Work : Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder.

I’ve been interested in the writer Sylvia Plath since I learned about her and watched the movie Sylvia, which starred Gwyneth Paltrow. The book provided an insightful look into Sylvia Plath’s life, most of it, of course, focused on the month she spent as a guest editor at Mademoiselle. It was more about who she was as a person during that time than about her writing, though it was touched on throughout. There are excerpts from her journal as well, but from other times, as the author says Sylvia only wrote a paragraph about the whole month in New York.

It’s a different kind of book, but a good read. There are things in it about the 50’s from fashion to the way women were viewed by men. It even has quite a bit about her various boyfriends. There are many quotes in the book about Sylvia by some of the other guest editors and old boyfriends. The last part of the book had information I never knew about her nervous breakdown and suicide attempt soon after her return from New York.

I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever read offering a better view as to who she was as a person. It still makes me sad. She was so talented and had two beautiful children when she committed suicide at 30 years old. It makes me wish she could’ve seen what others saw and realized she had so much more life to live.

Since I finished it and had to move on, I found a book I’ve never read sitting in a stack in my living room. The book is Founding Mothers : The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts. I picked it up at a used book store years ago, because it sounded interesting. Who knows why I haven’t read it before? (Must have had my nose in another good book and forgot) 🙂

It’s incredible! I am utterly amazed at how articulate the founding mothers were and I’m only to page 65 in the book so far. Women poets even contributed to the beginnings of America as a country independent from England. Some of the excerpts of Abigail Adams’ letters demonstrate a vocabulary surpassing many women of today, though she had no formal education other than that by her father. (No insult meant and I am including myself here) 🙂

Well, those are my current reads. Need to add to my “To-Read” list. I found a list of memoirs in a post Writing Memoir? Read Memoir over at the blog of Marion Roach Smith, which has some possibilities. One last thing I’ll leave with you is a neat post I read that made me smile. As wonderfully ideallic as I think it sounds to write sitting in a café somewhere, the writer of this post Squirrel, over at the blog A Thought Grows, is so how I’d be…a writer with “writer ADD” and getting little done. I’ll settle for my tea and the quiet of home or a nice grassy spot outside.  🙂

Happy writing and share any thoughts and/or any suggestions for good books you’ve read…

This and That

I’m still crafting, crocheting, and baking as Christmas is fast approaching. This means my writing temporarily takes a side seat. I’m still writing, just not as much. Thought I’d share a few things today, hence the title, so here’s a little of this and that.

I started reading a good book yesterday. The funny thing is I didn’t realize it was the same author of another book I had read till I got started. It’s a memoir titled Barnheart : The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own by Jenna Woginrich. The other book she wrote that I read is Made from Scratch.

The book is about her homesteading adventures, which of course intrigues me as I love homesteading. She has quite a sense of humor and writes with the blatant honesty I adore. Loved her apt description of chickens. I already read a little over 50 pages and can’t wait to get back to it.

This month also seems to be a month for poetry. It’s something I don’t write all the time, just when the moment strikes me. I seem to write more of it when I’m in a sad mood for some reason. Why can’t I just write happy optimistic poetry? Maybe one day. Though the one I shared does have some optimism.

Poetry appeals to me, because it allows you to say much using only a few words.  The feelings are there even when I’m too tired, more emotionally than physically tired, to write pages worth of my thoughts. It’s an easier way to speak my heart. This is a short one from yesterday. It may not be finished. Seems to need more.

Hope’s Flight

Hope flies on wings
Fragile as a butterfly’s
It’s such a delicate thing
Lifted on the winds of dreams
Inspires soaring higher
Seeking life’s passions and desires

Butterfly

Butterfly (Photo credit: fox_kiyo)

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a last thought. I was going through some of my many scraps of paper
I end up writing on and found a quote I had wrote down. It’s one of those that just make me so inspired, not just in writing, but living. Such inspiration is a desperate need in my life right now.

“I wished to live my precious time upon this earth deliberately, so that when my life was over, I would not discover that I had not truly lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

Memoir Bits

Writing journal

Writing journal (Photo credit: avrdreamer)

Just a short little post tonight, but had a couple of things about memoirs I thought were worth sharing. The first is a cartoon I thought was a very apt description at how readers, including myself, pick out memoirs to read : Roz Chast’s Memoir Spectrum.  There are some memoirs, though they may be well written and interesting to some, which I will never read unless nothing else was available(like on an island with one book).  I have to flip through a book a little and be able to connect to it on some level.

The second thing I discovered tonight was Scoop.it from a posting on facebook.  I haven’t had much of a chance to play with it, but the little I did, it looks like another social media thing much like Pinterest.  I was really excited, because the links posted on facebook to Scoop.it were on Memoir Writing.  There was oodles of information on memoir.  I had to contain myself as I can get a little click happy.  I’m usually pretty good, but it can be a struggle to make sure I do not overdo my time with social media.

Well, I have to work tomorrow at my paying job, so I’d best be cutting it short and get off the computer.  I’m going to go write a little.  I’ve been in a poetry mood lately, but am beginning to write another memoir as well.  Memoir is truly one of my favorite forms of writing.  I think everyone should write their stories, even if it is for yourself or to pass on to a family member one day.

Memoir Writing…Completion to Resources for Writing Your Memoir

I’ve finished doing a self-edit of my memoir.  I did it on a copy I had printed out and forgot page numbers…whoops…yes, those could be important.  🙂 After going back and fixing a few things I found, I have officially printed out my first good copy of my memoir.  It is done.  Feels good to say that for more than one reason.

My memoir is done because I feel the story is done being told.  Though I know I said I wasn’t worried about word count, and I’m not, I think it’s still neat to know it ended up 32, 317 words.  It is 94 pages long, but 98 if the extra pages are included.  The extras are a dedication page, resource page, and a couple of pages of poetry.

My Memoir

My Memoir

My Memoir

My Memoir

The next step, and I am taking baby steps, is to turn my baby lose cautiously.  I need to let a few other people read it to get some feedback.  I know I sound like I’m obsessing a bit calling it my baby, but it is.  This is the first book I’ve ever written and the story is a part of me.

The best thing about being done and the story being written is this wonderful feeling of release.  There is a freedom in having some of my most painful experiences in life out of me and into words.  For me it’s actually been easier to find the written words than it would have been trying to speak them.

We all have stories in us and I would highly recommend writing a memoir to anyone.  I think it can especially be part of the healing process if there is something difficult you are dealing with in your life.  Reading memoirs written by others is a good place to get started learning about writing stories from life.  Here are a few other books and a blog I’ve found helpful as I’ve learned more about memoir writing :

Writing Our Stories

Broken Heart

Broken Heart (Photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti)

If you’ve read through some of my previous posts, you’ve probably noticed I have a leaning towards personal types of writing.  I love essays, journaling, and memoirs.  Our lives are stories and everyone has a story to tell.  My life is so overflowing that right now this is where my heart can find release to pour things out.  I have to write it down.

As with any form of writing you choose to partake, it’s said one of the best steps to do is read the form of writing you want to write.  I’ve been working on a memoir, so I’ve been reading memoirs.  Two memoirs I really enjoyed reading were Falling Apart in One Piece by Stacy Morrison and Eat, Pray, and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  The memoir I’m currently reading is The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming by Jennie Nash.  It is about her journey through breast cancer, which my step mother is currently having to face.

I’ll read anything if it strikes me right, but I tend to read memoirs written by women about their lives.  Either the book’s description or a brief flip through has to catch my eye with something I can relate to on some level.  I do have the book On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King on my wish list to read.  I love reading about writers’ lives.  Another memoir I have read was Literary Life by Larry McMurtry.  Unfortunately, it did not top my list for enjoyable memoirs.  It seemed to have a bit much pomp and a little too over factual for my tastes, but that’s just me.

One of my absolute favorite bloggers is Kat Collins.  She has a wealth of writing information and resource links on her blog.  She is also doing something I had never heard of before, but is an interesting idea.  She is blogging a memoir book she is writing :  The Good Wife.  She has some guest blogs on the topic of blogging a book at her Kat Collins blog, then you can go to the other blog to read her book thus far.

If you’ve ever been hesitant to write, maybe you’ll decide the truth is easier than fiction.  I’ve found my life is so unreal at times it seems, it’s just easier to write about it than try to make things up.  You can start small.  Start keeping a journal about your life or choose to write one story or blog post till you have enough for a book.  Two good organizations to learn more about writing memoirs are National Association of Memoir Writers and Story Circle Network.  Happy writing… 🙂

P.S. – I forgot another memoir I recently finished and thought was well written was If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus.  Warning is it’s sad and a tragic story of abuse.  It’s a story I think many women need to read.

Rainy Day Mish-mash

raining sheets

raining sheets (Photo credit: mytimemachine)

It’s raining outside and it’s wonderful!  I love hearing it as it falls on the roof and pitter patters against the sunlight.  Fortunately I am appreciating the rain, which we’ve greatly needed.  I’m not usually so appreciative as the rain often makes me sad for some reason.  One of those great mysteries of me.  I’m also glad that though it’s raining outside and continually seems to keep raining more in my life, somehow I’m still looking out for rainbows.

Just thought I would share some about several random things, hence the rainy day mish-mash.  One is something just for fun, because everyone can do with something to put a little smile on their face.  I know I can.  I ran across a comic for writers yesterday during my surfing the net time and got such a kick out of it.  The strip was called Will Write for Chocolate by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.  I loved the title and think it’s brilliant, but go check it out.  Chocolate?  I am so there.  🙂

I’m still working on the freelance writing, but it seems to be taking a bit to get going.  Baby steps one at a time.  I’ve worked on an idea list for articles this week.  There are submissions still out that I’m waiting to hear back on.  Yesterday I finally ordered some business cards through Vistaprint.  I’ve been considering the thought of making a website, which seems everyone in the writing world recommends having, but so far have decided against it.

This week has gone by in a blur as I’ve been working a little more.  I am no where near being one of those people blessed to be able to write full time.  I would love to be and will continue plodding away on writing projects as I enjoy it so much.  I have spent a bit of time working on my main WIP, a memoir, and now have a whopping 24,100 words!  It’s my pet project right now just because I feel I’ve got to finish writing it while things are still reasonably fresh in my memory.  Time can make things a little less painful, but it seems to make memories a bit fuzzy.

Another big accomplishment for this week was I finished my submission to Memoir Journal.  They have a contest for memoirs in prose or poetry and there is no entry fee, which works for my minimal budget at the time.  The deadline is August 16th.  The downside is winners will not be announced until March 1st of next year, so a very long wait and I thought a few months was a long time.  I had been working on a memoir in prose for a while and was glad to get it done in time.

There are a few other projects on my to do list in the next couple of weeks.  One thing I think will help to keep me focused a bit is to put up a dry erase board near my computer and write a list of potential writing contests as well as other writing projects to work on with the deadline dates if they have one.  The other thing I need to do is find a writing group and/or an editor or something as I feel I desperately need some feed back on some of my writing.  The writing group I had gone to for a few times fizzled and is no longer in existence.  Any ideas?

Best wishes and happy writing… 🙂

 

Of Course, More Books About Writing…

Photograph of one of Ronald Skirth's journals.

Photograph of one of Ronald Skirth’s journals. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my great loves above writing is reading.  Sometimes I’ll read one book for hours and other times I have several going at once.  Not reading them at once, but I’ll read a bit of one and then read a bit of another.  Well, I discovered some more gems at my local public library I thought I’d share.  I’m always on the look out for a good book.

I’ve dabbled in journaling through the years.  More of an on again, off again type journaler, but attempted to journal.  Usually my results are a few entries and then it may get picked up again several months or a year later.  Well, I decided to pick up my journal again and start anew, so timing was perfect to spot the book Note to Self : On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O’Shea.

I’m almost halfway through, but have enjoyed this book.  Makes me feel so much less guilty in my journal attempts and gives me some thoughts to free my mind to journal.  She says even the sporadic journal entry will shed a lot on your life through the years rather than not journaling at all.  The author is even so brave as to share many of her actual journal entries with her readers.  She even gives ideas on topics you may want to journal about if you find yourself lacking ideas.

It’s funny how small the world is and the coicidences which occur at times.  Not too long ago I saw the movie Sylvia, which had Gwyneth Paltrow playing the American writer and poet Sylvia Plath.  I  had never heard of Sylvia Plath and have been reading up about her as well as some of her works.  Well, in the book, it says Sylvia was an avid journaler and there are some of her journal entries included as well.

I’m looking forward to finishing this book and have began to start journaling at night before I go to bed.  I’m trying to do it nightly, but giving myself permission to skip a night or nights if need be.  Hopefully will fend off discouragement and plan to do what you do if you fail at dieting one day, which is just get back up and try it again the next day.  Some reasons to journal are it’s cathartic, provides some historical evidence of your life for personal reflection, and provides another opportunity to write. 

The other book I discovered was Shimmering Images : A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir by Lisa Dale Norton.  It’s a small book and is written in a good conversational tone I quite enjoy.  I finished reading it in one evening.  Thought it might give me some helpful advice as I continue to plunge into writing a couple of memoirs and personal essays.  I’m not closing the doors on fiction, but have decided I am  more of a personal and non-fiction writer.

I really like the first part of her book, which shares our right to writing truths and at the same time doing so compassionately.  This includes being soul searchingly honest with ourselves as well as not playing the blame game.  While being careful not to persecute others unjustly, we must also not overly berate ourselves.  This is probably very hard for most, as it’s often said writers are their own worst critics.  I know I’m quicker to criticize myself than anyone else.

The second half of the book she shares what she means by shimmering images, which is basically a kind of memory in your mind you can see bits and pieces of, as well as gives ideas how to fill in those memories some.    Some of the ideas are doing things like memory mapping, asking family members questions, looking at old photos, and researching what was going on in the world during the time period of your memories.  Lastly in the second part she discusses how to get to the heart of what your story is actually about, so it has meaning.

The third part of her book shares information about useful tools for the writer.  She covers such things as choosing which perspective to write from and creating scenes in your memoir, which are important in memoir writing just as in writing fiction.  There is also helpful information on imagery and ways to avoid using cliches.  This was a good book and I appreciated the examples of memoir writing included by the author.

Do you journal?  What kind of journal writer  are you?  Besides Anne Frank, can you think of any other famous journalers or writers who keep/kept journals? . . .