Monday, December 16, 2013

Memories Become Anthology

I am pleased to welcome Amber Lea Starfire to the Women's Writing Circle.   Co-author/editor of the anthology, Times They Were A-Changing, Amber shares her memory of a conversation that turned into a springboard for a collaborative collection of stories and poems by, about and for women. 

Her essay is  testament that our shared experiences as women resonate and offer teachable moments.  As we discovered when we wrote our anthology, Slants of Light:  Stories and Poems From the Women's Writing Circle, the collaboration of women finding their voices through writing and publishing is powerful and inspiring for all involved.  As I wrote in the Foreword to Slants of Light, our book also evolved out of a "what if" moment . . . and from there the seeds were planted. 

Here is Amber's story of the inception of  Times They Were A-Changing celebrating women's lives during the turbulent 60s and 70s.

"Imagine the three of us sitting at a table under a 700-year-old spreading oak. Linda Joy is enjoying a glass of red wine with her pasta, I’m drinking white, and Kate a refreshing glass of sparkling water. A breeze swirls the leaves lying on the patio, suggestively lifts the skirt of our tablecloth, and threatens to steal our napkins. We laugh, reveling in the feel of freedom and the balmy April air against our skin.

Except for an engine gunning in the distance, we feel miles away from the car show rumbling down the main street, just a block away. We could be in a small cafe in Italy or France. Except we’re in Austin, Texas. And we’re doing what women do when we get together—telling our life stories.

“That was during my Jesus Freak days,” I say.

“What? You? No way.” Kate shakes her head.

Linda Joy sounds an exclamation. “Knowing you now, I just can’t see you as the ‘obedient’ type.”

I lift my glass in a toast. “It’s all true. But then, that was the early 70s. Jesus Freaks, Krishna followers, all the cults … do you remember?”

“Oh yes,” the two chorus. “Tell us more.”

And so, I do. And pretty soon we’re swapping stories—from the different perspectives of different cities, different family cultures and influences, vastly different experiences separated by only a few years. We can’t help remarking on the variety and richness of our stories, how together they expand what each of us remembers, painting a bigger picture of the times. We recall how we had to wear skirts to school year-round, the first time we saw a hippie, the first time one of us was called a hippie, what it was like to live on a commune, the beginning of the women’s movement, the transition from jazz, nifty, and cool to psychedelic rock, far-out, and grok. We recall being inspired by female rock n’ roll stars, poets, writers, and activists.

Then, we’re talking about how so much written history from that era is all about the influential men, and how wonderful it would be to hear more stories from other women. We’re speaking over one another: “Think about the variety of experiences … the differences between experiencing the Vietnam war as a mother of a son, a younger sister, a college student … what a rich tapestry of culture from a feminine perspective … an anthology … not just stories, but poems, too … evocative … expressive … powerful.”

At some point, someone says, “Let’s do it.” We clink glasses. Somewhere, a cell divides, becoming two, and Times They Were a Changing: Women Remember the 60s  and 70s anthology begins the gestation process."

Amber Lea Starfire, whose passion is helping others tell their stories, is the author of Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts and Meditations (2012) and Not the Mother I Remember, due for release in late 2013. A writing teacher and editor, she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco and is a member of the California Writers Club in Napa and Santa Rosa, the Story Circle Network, National Association of Memoir Writers, and International Association for Journal Writing. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors.

Just in time for the holidays, Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire launch their anthology Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s and '70s. The book is the perfect gift for opening discussions with friends and family members and illustrating what a powerful time the '60s and '70s truly were.

Forty-eight powerful stories and poems etch in vivid detail breakthrough moments experienced by women during the life-changing era that was the ’60s and ’70s. These women rode the sexual revolution with newfound freedom, struggled for identity in divorce courts and boardrooms, and took political action in street marches. They pushed through the boundaries, trampled the taboos, and felt the pain and joy of new experiences. And finally, here, they tell it like it was.

Through this collection of women’s stories, we celebrate the women of the ’60s and ’70s and the importance of their legacy.

Paperback: 354 pages

Publisher: She Writes Press (Sept. 8, 2013)

ISBN-10: 1938314042

ISBN-13: 978-1938314049

Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ‘60s and ‘70s is available in print and as an e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and She Writes Press and Indie Bound.

Find out more about the book online:
Times They Were A-Changing blog:
Twitter: @womensmemoir60s

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