Magical Memoir Moments

The Spiral Staircase: Spiritual Memoir the Second and Third Time Around

Karen Armstrong’s life story illustrates the hero’s journey described in my previous post.  Her memoir’s title follows the traditional pattern of separation and hints at the initiation and return that happens within the pages of the book: The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness. Armstong builds her book on the scaffolding provided by T….

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Blogging and the Memoir Community Online

By Shirley H. Showalter There are more than 150,000,000 bloggers.  I joined the enormous online ocean less than six months ago, and I learn a new swim stroke every day.  Authors are beginning to find this site, and I am beginning to locate memoir authors, teachers, and speakers.  I thought I would point out three…

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Memoir, Formula, and the Hero's Journey

I subscribe to Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, which comes into my inbox first thing every morning.  I enjoy starting the day with a poem and some interesting facts about writers and writing. The October 12 entry introduced me to Lester Dent, a writer I had never heard of before.  Here’s the text that caught…

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Is Memoir Becoming Mandatory for Politics?

Candidates rise or fall depending upon how voters feel about the stories they tell and the stories others tell about them.  That’s why in recent years political conventions often feature films with the candidate as the hero, and hastily-written biographies usually crop up on Amazon and in the bookstores.  John Kerry was savaged by a…

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Contests and Memoir

I have always enjoyed biography, autobiography, and the personal essay, but my study of memoir as a subject is only two years old.  It started when I saw a 2007 literary contest announcement in the local newspaper, The Kalamazoo Gazette.  The three categories were poetry, short story and memoir. That choice was easy, since my…

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Max DePree, Leader, Mentor, Memoirist

A few weeks ago, my husband Stuart and I traveled to the “west coast” of Michigan, first to Saugatuck, where we had a lovely visit on a rainy day to the Wickwood Inn, and then to Holland, where Stuart explored the downtown and I visited Max DePree, the man who has been my mentor for…

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Living the Questions

“Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.”  –Rainer Maria Rilke I am trying to go deeper with my understanding of this famous quote, which I loved from the time I first read it in Letters to a Young Poet.  Like most mothers,…

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Creating a Space: Preparing for a Writer's Workshop, Part Two

Wallace Stegner once said that you can’t teach writing but you can awaken it.  That’s what I hope for in the class I will teach next Monday.  We begin with creating space and thinking about the environment, both of the physical space and the social, emotional, and spiritual safety within that place. To teach is…

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A Workshop on Reflective Writing

Next Monday I will conduct the first of a series of four 1.5-hour-long workshops at the Fetzer Institute, the organization for which I work.  Our founder, John E. Fetzer, believed that we need to be the work in order to do the work.  He was a visionary leader who intuited the needs of the future…

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Six-Word Memoir Google Video

Since my previous post about six-word memoirs elicited some response, here is a great video with examples at the beginning and a speech from Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, who tell the story of how Smith Magazine created this special form.

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