Teaching “TellTale Souls – Tap Memory, Write Memoir” workshops is extremely rewarding for me, especially when people send me their bio-vignettes! And participants find their reward when they locate a significant memory gem about their mothers and move it into memoir. At a recent workshop, I had the pleasure to meet Diane Zelenakova, who wrote the following Mother Memoir, beautifully capturing her mother spirit. This is what Diane said about writing her Mother Memoir, “For decades I have enjoyed the craft of writing, but it was a particular pleasure and an honor to reflect on my pioneering mother’s life and create this piece, which was catalyzed in the midst of several deep conversations we had when she was in her 80s. My motivation in telling her story was both to bring her historical experiences to light and to keep her spirit alive. She was, and remained, a dynamo.” (The attractive woman in Coast Guard uniform in the photo is Genevieve .) Genevieve Zelenak,
Before the Story - Mother Memoir Writing Tip: Focus your power to write significant memoir by using a literary method known as “stream of consciousness.” Settle yourself in a comfortable place with writing tools at hand and focus on the woman you’ve chosen as the focal point for your Mother Memoir, be that your mother, grandmother or another woman to whom you felt like a daughter or a son. Thoughts, ideas, and feelings will begin to stream into consciousness. As this happens, allow this experience to be continuous and uninterrupted. Without questioning or reacting to what comes to mind, simply let what you’re experiencing flow on to the page before you until you run out of steam! By then, I know from experience, you will have several great thoughts and significant feelings written down that you can use as the basis for your story or to further develop your mother’s character in a story you have already begun. The following story excerpted from my
Mother Memoir Writing Tip: Once you have discovered the theme or premise of the story that captures the character and spirit of your mother, keep your eye on the prize! Focus your power by holding fast to just those images and ideas that you want recorded in your memoir. Keep in mind the idea of parameters—the framework whereby your story needs to be contained so your story won’t get out of control. The following story excerpted from my guidebook, TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir: How to Tap Memory and Write Your Story Capturing Character & Spirit exemplifies containing a story within certain parameters. Anissa Hamdon-Morison’s story begins on page 137 of Act Three in the section entitled “Focusing Your Power.” You can easily find other stories I’ve posted from the book by searching “Bio-Vignette No.” Promise Keeper is the shortest story in the TellTale Souls collection, and you have already read the longest true tale, Sweet Persimmons, written
“If you’ve begun your Mother Memoir. You have discovered the theme or premise of the story that captures the character and spirit of your mother—so keep your eye on the prize. Focus your power by holding fast to just those images and ideas that you want recorded in your memoir. Keep in mind the idea of parameters—the framework whereby your story needs to be contained so your story won’t get out of control. Now, on to the next step in containing your focus powerfully: You must focus on how you write at the same time as you stay on track with the premise of your bio-vignette. It’s time to look at how to narrow your writing focus, so you write to get your points across without injecting unnecessary information that will result in crushing your work with material extraneous to the story itself.”…(More will be revealed in the guidebook, available in Amazon in paperback and Kindle.) The following story excerpted from my guidebook, TellTale Souls Writing the Mother
I found my muse when I least expected to find her. Or was it she found me? It was a time when I definitely wasn’t looking—perhaps that’s the magic and beauty of it. Even the realization that my muse had appeared didn’t hit me until the spark I had ignited in so many people began to blaze. The fire burned simply because I’d asked them this question, “If you could tell just one small story that would capture your Mother’s character and keep her spirit alive, what would it be?” So the musings began… My mother died, but she’s not gone. Her ashes are scattered in my garden. I see her in my flowers and taste her in my fruit, and I laugh and I cry with her and know who I am…and sometimes who I am not. I love to hear and tell stories about her, and I know that my children and grandchildren will discover her soul shimmering between the lines of those savory stories. My mother was born Margaret Althea Cook. She wasn’t a saint and she wasn’t famous or wealthy.
Sweet, tangy, fruit fit for the gods are words used to describe the tone and mood of the glorious persimmon. The following story, entitled “Sweet Persimmons,” excerpted from my guidebook, TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir: How to Tap Memory and Write Your Story Capturing Character & Spirit, sets the tone and mood of memoir in a comparably delightful manner. The story begins on page 113 of Act Three in the section entitled “Using Descriptive Imagery.” You can easily find other stories I’ve posted from the book by searching “Bio-Vignette No.” TellTale Soul Helena uses dialog in a compelling way, allowing her characters to interact expressively, with feeling and emotion, infusing energy into her delicious story. Notice how she conveys the mood, the overall feeling of her story, by the tone she set through the various voices of those present. Sweet Persimmons ~Helena Wan I rang the doorbell and waited, my thoughts going back so many years
“On those particular evenings, Rickey, Dana, and I would draw in close around our gray-flecked, red-Formica-topped kitchen table, its naive, gently curving, chrome-plated legs holding our weight as our elbows bore down, giving each of us the added leverage we pursued. We needed to be closer to Mom and to the steaming platter she placed before us. Under the creamy glow of the kitchen light, six accepting eyes took in the uncomplicated joy and radiance emanating from Mom as she sought the simple, albeit little-known and usually wasted, prize this creature offered.” I hope you found this little excerpt from one of the bio-vignettes in my book enticing. Hope the imagery made you want to read the complete telling tale. I promise to post it soon, so please come back for more. But for now, let’s look more closely at the power of descriptive imagery. We all know being honest and telling a true story is the basis for writing the Mother Memoir. But a good
It’s almost here!—Exciting Women’s PowerStrategy™ Conference for women of all ages. Saturday, June 15th 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Santa Rosa, CA’s Wells Fargo Center for the Arts (PowerStrategy is all inclusive—you got it, men are welcome to come feel the power.) Women’s PowerStrategy™ Conference, “a gathering of leaders from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise who are joining forces to educate and inspire women of all ages to believe and invest in their own talents, skills and potential.” Yours truly has been invited to speak at Patricia V. Davis’ second annual Women’s PowerStrategy™ Conference , where Linda Joy Myers and I will guide women to “Tap into Their Power by Writing Memoir.” Follow me as I take attendees on a journey through emotional terrain into the heart and soul of memoir, the most valuable form of self-expression. Writing memoir is a profound way to begin to better understand oneself. It unleashes the power to move into