What better way to share our stories and writing than with a community of like-minded people? So it was this past weekend at our Art and Practice of Memoir workshop at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania.Our workshop facilitator, Mary Pierce Brosmer, author and founder of Women Writing for (a) Change, began with a quote from Brenda Ueland, journalist and writing teacher: "It has made me enjoy writing the more to understand that writing is not a performance, it's a generosity."
Ueland also wrote: "Everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say."
I felt gratitude for the voices and stories of so many gifted and giving people. The chatter of the outside world receded as all 18 of us took our seats in the circle and began without apology . . . instead, trust and acceptance along with an intention to write our own stories without being imprisoned by someone else's version.
Some call it the "divine." As one workshop participant put it, "When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, the truth emerges."
Many, many thanks to Mary Pierce Brosmer, pictured here, for holding the circle with respect, sensitivity and great teaching skill. She gave us a better understanding of memoir, ideas of how to proceed with our projects, and offered up writing time, read-arounds and discussion of ways writing can heal.
As co-facilitator, I spoke about read-arounds offered through the Women's Writing Circle, which is a resource for local writers, and the pros and cons of self-publishing I am experiencing as author of my memoir, Again in a Heartbeat.
Mary concluded the workshop on Saturday afternoon by extinguishing the candle placed in the center of the circle, which she lit Friday evening when the workshop began. I had made new friends, including Mary who I was meeting for the first time. She arrived from Cincinnati in a driving rainstorm with a chest cold, but marshalled the strength and stamina to see it through and give us a truly special experience.
In this community of writers, there was connection and belonging along with renewed energy to write. As one workshop participant said, "I am leaving with a new lease on writing and a wonderful sense of the power of a community."