Saturday, September 4, 2010

OUR AUGUST STORY CIRCLE

Story Circle began at my house on Tuesday, August 24, 2010, at 7:00 pm.  I invited 25 people, but only 1 person came.  We had a lot of cookies and iced tea for just two of us! We had a ball--talked for three hours!  Several women sent me emails expressing interest although they were unable to attend that night.  These women are all very active in church, community, work, and home.  They all make time for their friends and women new to the community.  Interesting stories are waiting to be told.  I will continue to host Story Circle at my house because I know it will grow.  It is just too much fun to gather with other women and share our lives--past and present--including our dreams, hopes, and prayers for the future.  Connecting to other women makes us feel real, makes our stories important to someone else, gives us peace--knowing another woman has struggled and survived--and brings us to a state of contentment, however brief, where we can reflect on our joys and sorrows and resolve to rest in the company of other women.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

STORY CIRCLE NETWORK (SCN)

I am starting a Story Circle at my house.  If you like to get to know other women by sharing your stories and listening to their stories, then you will enjoy our Story Circle.  I will have two gatherings a month, one at night and one in the afternoon.  You can come to any or all of the gatherings.  Each gathering is a separate entitiy.  You can miss any gathering and never be behind, and there is no homework.  We will be talking, reading, writing, and listening.  You choose how you want to be involved.  You do not have to talk or write.  You can just listen and eat cookies if you like! 

The initial gathering will be next Tuesday, August 24th, at 7:00 pm at my house.  I will send out emails/invites with more information.  Beginning in September we'll be gathering the first Tuesday evening (7:00 pm) and the 4th Sunday afternoon (2:00 pm) of each month. You can come to one or both of the gatherings.  I will send out email reminders.  I hope you will come and see what's happening.  Nothing is required.   

I have a badge on my blog that will take you to the Story Circle Network if you want more information.  This is their formal description of their purpose:

The Story Circle Network (SCN) offers the only lifewriting program designed exclusively for women.  Since 1997, our nonprofit organization has provided learning/writing opportunities in memoir, reminiscence, journaling, poetry, family stories, kitchen table stories, writing-as-healing, writing for personal growth and spiritual development, poetry, blogging, and other areas. We teach general writing skills, organization, and critical editing, as well as technical skills in book design and development, online marketing, blogging, and other internet-related activities.

You do NOT have to be a member of SCN in order to come to our Story Circle. I am the only one who has to be a member. However, if you want more information about joining, go to http://www.storycircle.org/.

I truly hope you will come and enjoy the fellowship and be inspired by women's wisdom.


      

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THE WRITERS' LEAGUE CLASSES

The Writers' League of Texas (WLT) is an organization in Austin, Texas, with its office on Congress near the capitol building.  It holds free monthly meetings with speakers and discussion, and a variety of classes on topics from how to write a novel, to how to get published, to how to set up a website.

I went to one class on setting up a website taught by a professional in the Austin community.  Although I didn't understand everything he said, the class expanded my concept of how a website is structured.  An additional benefit was I met and shared stories with several people in the class.  One woman who was in a band in the 60's/70's while attending UT told me several hilarious stories.  She encouraged me to come to the next free monthly meeting.  The WLT office is small, so the class size is small; we sit close together, encouraging conversations.  There is a nominal yearly fee to join ($45/yr), and members get a big discount on classes and on the annual Agents and Editors Conference in June.  Networking opportunities and new friendships are waiting to be discovered whether at a monthly meeting, a class, or the annual convention.

I am trying to decide whether to sign up for the memoir writing class or the class explaining the steps to getting published.  The memoir writing class is all day Saturday, August 21st, and the deadline to sign up is tomorrow, Wednesday, August 18th.  It is $99 for members.  Since I am writing my memoir, I will probably go with that class.

If anyone is interested in going to meetings or attending classes, let me know, and you can ride with me.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

MOTHERS and DAUGHTERS

When my youngest daughter was three, I picked her up after preschool one day and took her with me on a shopping trip to a huge mall.  I promised her an ice cream cone if she was good.  She was an angel, never complaining she was tired or hungry because she knew she would get that ice cream cone.  We sat at a table in a giant food court while she happily licked her cone.  I watched it drip down the front of her white pinafore so wrapped another napkin around the pointy end of the cone.  Except there was no point on the end.  She had bitten off the tip of the cone for some inexplicable reason.  I had to laugh.  I glanced over her shoulder at the table behind her and noticed another mother with her little girl, eating lunch and laughing, much like us.  Except there was a third woman at the table.  The grandmother was there, too.  It was like a punch to my stomach.  My mother had died a year and a half before while I was overseas, and I mourned her death all over again now that we were home.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  But I couldn't cry in a moment of such joy with my baby.  I allowed myself a minute to miss my mother and realize that the three of us would never sit at a table and have an ice cream cone together.  Then I gazed at my daughter's bright eyes and her tiny hand wrapped around the dripping cone and smiled again.  I was looking at joy, God's gift to me.  This moment was imprinted on my mind forever.  I rested in it.  It was enough.  

Sunday, June 20, 2010

GODSPELL

I saw GODSPELL for the first time at a theater in my small Texas town.  It was glorious. 
I am the kind of person who could see a play every night of the week and be in Heaven. 
I even like plays I don't like.  Plays or Theater opens my mind to different viewpoints about topics I might
never have thought about or cared about.  Exploring is an almost delerious joy.

I explore through reading and writing, but viewing a play in a hushed audience, all eyes and spirits focused on the stage, the aisles, and above our heads (as in Phantom of the Opera)--surrounded by music and voices--allows me to be Alice in Alice in Wonderland.  It is not frightening to be Alice; it is exhilarating.  All my feelings are permissible in the theater.  I can be sad, angry, happy, disgusted, frightened, bored, but always changed in some way.
Changed in a non-threatening sense to me.

I particularly liked GODSPELL because it presented Jesus and his parables in a believable light--for believers and non-believers.  This production roared with energy, laughter, compassion, and inspiration.  It ended in Jesus' death and much mourning by his followers.  It was an unexpected interpretation of who Jesus was to the people of his time and allowed me to see how vital Jesus is now and forever to my well-being.  That is a miracle in itself.  

   

Thursday, June 10, 2010

STEP OVER THE KITTY DUST BUNNIES AND WRITE YOUR MEMOIR

I heard Candace Ransom, a famous children's author, speak at a conference--when I was writing children's books (unpublished, alas)--and she encouraged us to put everything aside and really write.  For her that included not vacuuming up all the wispy kitty dust bunnies hugging the baseboards and rolling through the kitchen.  At least not until she had finished her writing goal for the day, or week, or month, I guess.  I struggle with that.

I am now writing a memoir about three women--not children's books--but I still refer to my notes on Candace Ransom's presentation entitled "Secrets in the Attic:  Writing From Your Past."  One obvious technique to help women write their memoirs is to read other women's memoirs.  But I like the comment Ms. Ransom made about books--that they allow us to eavesdrop on other people's souls.  She gave us several ideas that day, including recording our earliest memory and then starting a memory journal.  She suggested we draw a map of our childhood home and make a photo collage of family photographs.  She advised we take one photograph and "focus on looking beyond the obvious in the photograph."

I moved constantly as a child, so I had several homes to draw.  It helped nudge my brain into remembering stories and the feelings I had.  I could remember smells--such as the roof-high Gardenia bushes surrounding our house in the Philippines.  I could remember tastes, especially the ecstasy of a stolen chocolate cupcake with caramel pecan icing out of the garage refrigerator when I lived in California.  I remember the vision of seeing my first snowfall in Virginia when my dad woke us up and took us outside in the middle of the night to see the dancing flakes coat the ground and trees.      

Another author I am reading is Susan Wittig Albert.  Her book Writing from Life, Telling Your Soul's Story immediately struck me as being exactly what I needed to confirm that other women have sacred stories that belong to just them but are also shared with other women.  I am not alone in my misery or my delight.  I am especially interested in her chapter on home.

So today I am working on self discipline, reminding myself that writing is my job.  As I gaze out my window at the rose bushes, I will ignore the weeds that need to be pulled after all our heavy rains in Texas.  One thing at a time.....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

GARDENING OR WRITING

I'm back.  I had given up on this blogging project--trying to write, blog, and adjust to a brand new life.  Blogging For Dummies is well written, but I was tired of multi-tasking.  I have been gardening and am back to writing.  I am ready to tackle blogging again! 

My garden is blossoming.  I have roses and lavender and all kinds of herbs to breathe in as I walk down my little brick path behind a white picket fence.  I usually pick a leaf off each plant:  lemon balm, basil, Greek oregano, pineapple sage, tarragon, and spearmint, and crush it between my fingers to inhale the fragrance.  Soon I hope to have Monarch butterflies because I am planting a Monarch waystation, which provides host plants like Milkweed along with nectar plants like Lantana and Verbena-- in a sunny location. Monarchs spend the spring and summer preparing for their flight in the fall to winter in Mexico.  I will post some pictures when I see the first one.

I am still sporadically writing--some days intensely, others not at all.  When I write, I get totally immersed in my feelings.  Then I go back again and again to edit.  I have entered one memoir writing contest.  I wrote about the links between my grandmother, my mother, and me and the effects of our powerful relationships on the choices we made in similar and different circumstances.  I focused on the circumstances we each lived in, the choices we made, the expectations we had, and finally the reality of our lives as we aged. Entering this contest was a great exercise for me.  I had to synthesize all the different elements in my work-in-progress book in under 3000 words.  My essay is a microcosm of my book, its essence.  I felt revitalized after finishing the essay.  Even if I don't win or am not even a finalist, the effort I put forth has been rewarding.

I would love to hear about your writing, your successes (and any failures), and your experience entering contests.  Plus, I am always up for a book discussion or a gardening story.