Friday, March 6, 2009

The women in my life (and a few good men) - Part 6

Teachers, Writing Coaches, Mentors

I must first mention a few school teachers. They are: Mr. E. who made me love writing so much that right there in his 7th grade class I decided I wanted to study journalism (and I actually did); Mrs. R. who instilled in me the importance of reading and looking deep within the words for their meaning; and of course Dr. RRB, my high school journalism teacher and our high school newspaper advisor, who is still in my life today. He taught me to ask the hard questions and to be persistent in getting the answers. He also was a stickler for accuracy and meticulousness – traits very much within me now.

Those people were the precursors. Now for those who have had the most influence on my present-day writing.

Ellen – I don’t know what initially drew me to Ellen in the mid 90s. Perhaps it was the title of her workshop, “Writing About Our Lives,” and that she was holding that workshop at Esalen in Big Sur – one of my favorite places on earth. But, as soon as I experienced her warmth and openness I knew she was a person I would return to again and again. Now I mostly attend the poetry workshops she leads with Dorianne and Joseph*. I’m planning on going to Big Sur in July for another one. (*Joseph deserves a footnote. He had the patience to edit my poetry manuscript and as a result two poems have been recently published and another accepted for publication. I thank him for that.)

Jack is definitely one of the few good men. He showed me how to find my writing voice and change it at will. He also gave me permission to write my long sad sorry of Paul. What he didn’t warn me about was that few people would really care to read it.

Maureen taught me that in memoir writing there is something called the unreliable truth. There is my truth, your truth, and his truth, but my truth may not be the same as the others. When I write memoir I write my truth – the only truth I know.

Lollie read every word of my memoir first chapter by chapter and then front to back, helping along way with her insights, edits, and literary expertise. As a result I have a cohesive and clear manuscript ready for any agent out there who wants to take a look at it.

Barbara is a recent addition to my teacher list. I spent four days with her at a UCLA workshop recently and found her advice and wisdom about writing and marketing memoir so valuable. Her generosity is profound.

Of course there have been others – the wonderful high school teacher who encouraged my love of poetry, my college journalism professors, instructors at UCLA extension, including Suzanne who taught the first poetry writing class I ever attended. Over the years I’ve learned a wealth of writing tips from these very generous and caring people – all successful writers in their own right.

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