Monday, April 17, 2017

Memoir Moments―Writing and The Woman Alone

From rampant misogyny during the presidential election to all the president’s white men making decisions about women’s health and birth control here and abroad, it’s been a tough, soul-depleting year for women. War, attacks and machismo … feels like a state of emergency.

That’s where writing comes in. I don't believe it's an overstatement to say writing is saving the lives of many women, especially now, at this moment in history. It offers a positive path forward, a way to sort through the rubble―the destruction of any hoped-for progress―and it winds back to the inspiration that comes with the life examined on our own terms.

With a little help from my friends―my writer friends who came to our Women’s Writing Circle critique session earlier this month―it gets better as together we offer visual depictions of our lives through writing and story. Who can write in a vacuum?

The power of a writing group resides in the validation and the support that your words resonate, that your opinion counts. We all suffer from a lack of confidence and our world only makes it harder for women to move forward with confidence and clarity. A writing circle provides valuable insight into the lives of women.


The woman alone has been a topic I’ve been pursuing in my writing and have shared in the Women's Writing Circle. Perhaps, I will delve deeper or even repurpose this with other blog posts I’ve written over the years, or turn it into a separate memoir or creative presentation.

Although many people want something light-hearted. Take my talk on Nepal, for example. My ramblings about Buddhism and the Nepalese culture appeal; women writing as a way of healing, perhaps not so much.


Like May Sarton, I feel blessed that I have this time in my life to think, to ponder, to work on my craft―which is creative writing steeped in memoir and the personal essay. I stress the creative part because it seems like another world now where I wrote solely as a journalist―reported on what I saw and heard and the people I met, although I always believe and always will that journalism gave me a strong foundation to stay “on track”―what is my story about, how to keep the story moving and the “facts” relevant to a larger picture? Creative writing “stretches” me; to see beyond the facts and bring a lyricism, metaphor and artistry to my attempts at expression. It is hard work and I work hard at it.

How many of us have known people who avoid solitude as if it were an illness? Who enter into a bad relationship because they fear being alone? Who live in a turbocharged atmosphere of perfection and accomplishment of their own making? Who miss out on the radiant red and yellow tulips glowing in the April sunshine, as if pondering them is a luxury reserved for dreamers and poets? Solitude―and the luxury of not having to go to a depleting job or take care of one's family anymore―is my fortune. And it is integral to my life as a writer. It’s beautiful. It’s lonely. Like much of the writer’s life, paradoxes abound. 


Having a dog is a pleasure. There is no contradiction, no puzzle. Lily is almost Zen-like. Calm and steady, wise and farsighted, she lives totally in the moment; her will at one with mine, the perfect companion for the woman alone. If I want to take a walk, she is ready. When I step out on the patio to soak up the sun, she is right behind me. As I head to my favorite reading chair, she curls up at my feet.

Her patience, her fortitude, her total commitment and unconditional love offer respite. She demands nothing except to be fed and walked. The past is not on her mind nor concern as to what the future holds. I watch her dream, legs moving, listen to her little whimpers … where does her imagination take her? In her dog’s dreamland, I imagine she sees herself racing through green fields, wind at her ears, cavorting with another Lab. Or maybe she comes upon the unexpected … being chased by a demanding owner.


Writing at will, in the moment, discovering where the pen leads; moving beyond confusion toward crystallization … the aha moment. This is my story. This is what I want to say.

Your thoughts and comments are welcomed.

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