Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

Encounters of the Best Kind — July 7, 2014

Encounters of the Best Kind

Via MorgueFile
Via MorgueFile

Not to minimize fantastic vacation trips and summers experienced in the past, but this summer’s experiences have amazed me! I cannot resist sharing the almost extraterrestrial sense of time and place present during this season.

For some time I have interacted with two writers and one editor online. In fact, I would go so far to say we forged cyber-friendships never knowing what lay beyond emails and comments.

Like the three windows shown here, we cannot see what is on the other side of the window panes. We can only imagine.

Likewise, we could see a computer screen and send messages to one another. Beyond screens and words, we knew very little about each other. We had no way of knowing the authentic person on the other side of the screen.

Summer 2014 has changed all that, and it has been a rewarding and special time.

First off, in June, I met writing friend and mentor, Sharon Lippincott, in real time in Lake Oswego, a suburb of Portland, OR. We shared a couple of hours and coffee at St. Honore Bakery as we talked writing and memoir, husbands, health, travel, technology, and yes, children and grandchildren! Sharon and her husband, Parvin, were in town to attend their granddaughter’s high school graduation.

Sharon blogs at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, a reservoir of excellent information for those wanting to write life stories and/or/memoir. Sharon also is co-founder and host of Life Writers Forum, an online gathering place for writers to meet others interested in life story writing and memoirs. Additionally, the forum is a base for exchanging writing tips and other writing-related information.

Sharon has written several books, which are available via Amazon.

Next up was a real encounter with Candace Johnson of Change It Up Editing. Candace has a vast background in working with traditional publishers, self-publishers, and independent book packagers. She has assisted clients with nonfiction subject matter ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments and self-help as well as reality based novels and more traditional fiction genres.

A few weeks ago I telephoned Candace to talk over the possibility of contracting for editorial services when the time arrives. While on the phone, she reminded me that she and her partner spend some part of the summer in Portland. We agreed to meet up for lunch or coffee during that time, and we did!

Last Thursday Candace and I met at The Dragonfly Coffee Shop at 1:30 and finally decided at 4pm we had solved as many of the world’s problems as we had time for that day. We had also run the gamut of conversation expected between an editor and a writer. Along the way, we also managed to talk about the places we have lived, jobs we have worked, books we’ve read or are reading, our children, the men in our lives, our favorite spots in Portland, and more.

If these two materializations were not enough, this past Sunday my husband and I attended our first worship service in a Mennonite Church. You might ask why, and I will tell you it’s fairly plain and simple.

A third online acquaintance, writer and mentor Shirley Hershey Showalter was preaching at Portland Mennonite Church that morning. Shirley had invited us to attend providing not only the opportunity to hear Shirley’s message but also for us to meet face-to-face. And we did!

You may or may not know that Shirley and her husband, Stuart, are currently traveling the west coast south to north on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. Their trip is shown on Shirley’s events page as “The BooktourAnniversary Palooza Amtrak 30-Day Pass on Coastal Starlight and Empire Builder Trains.” Their travels are so described as this year marks Shirley and Stuart’s 45th wedding anniversary and along the way they make stops for Shirley to speak or preach or read from her recent memoir, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.

Meeting Shirley and Stuart was a high point of our Sunday. An extra blessing was the palpable warmth and love of the members of Portland Mennonite Church, an experience I would not have wanted to miss.

I could have flown around the world or taken a 30-day cruise, and neither would have been as gratifying having the opportunity to meet these three cyber-friends, up until now, within a four-week period.

And to Sharon, Candace and Shirley, thank you for taking time from busy schedules to meet up with me face-to-face, real-time, for encounters of the BEST kind!

When you are travelling, do you ever think about folks you’ve connected with online and the possibility of meeting them face-to-face? I highly recommend it!

Memoir Writers’ Resources Series | Jerry Waxler, His Blog and His Book — February 18, 2014

Memoir Writers’ Resources Series | Jerry Waxler, His Blog and His Book

This is the fifth post in this series, which has an infinite number of parts. Therefore, there is no “Part 1 of a #;” it will simply continue until the well dries up. Previous posts are listed below.

* * *

If you have not heard of Jerry Waxler, we need to correct that with this post.

It is my pleasure today to share with you the excellent resources from Jerry’s blog and books, as well as the wealth of information contained in Jerry’s expertise not only as a writer but also in his roles of therapist and teacher.

I first became acquainted with Jerry when I joined the Lifewriters Forum founded by Sharon Lippincott and Jerry. The forum provides a safe environment for memoir writers and story tellers alike to come together to share their thoughts, writings, and offer tips and lessons learned.

The more I read of Jerry’s new posts and replies on the forum the more intrigued I became about just who Jerry Waxler was. It seemed there was a lot going on in his mind and he wanted to share it all to the extent he could.

Enter Jerry’s blog, Memory Writers Network. Here I began to get a real sense of where Jerry had been, the path he had followed, and the current work he was doing in all these various communities where he was speaking, teaching, and writing, not to mention helping others along the way. I strongly encourage you to visit Memory Writers Network, if you have not done so. Jerry offers well written essays on the work others are doing and have done.

Additionally Jerry shares his own story and discusses in those posts his beliefs and thoughts on memory and evoking our memories as well as story structure and writing. From time to time, Jerry will review another writer’s book, and current count on his blog shows a total of at least 85 memoirs reviewed to date.

Then there are the works Jerry himself has written. Jerry’s first book, titled Learn to Write Your Memoir in Four Weeks, is available for purchase at this link. Learn to Write is a step-by-step guide in how to reclaim your memories and begin to record them, including techniques to organize your story and present it in an interesting way.

Most recently, Jerry authored The Memoir Revolution: A Social Shift that Uses Your Story to Heal, Connect, and InspireIt is available in paperback and Kindle versions via Amazon at this link.

Previously, I reviewed The Memoir Revolution on this blog. You can read my review here.

My observations and opinions in my review still stand, and I find myself referring to Jerry’s work in this book often while writing my memoir.

With Jerry’s combination of blog posts, teaching sessions as listed on his blog, his involvement in communities like Lifewriters Forum, and his own published works, he offers the memoir writer of today a vast array of resources to draw on.

I strongly encourage you to visit Jerry’s blog many times–it takes a while to absorb it all. However, Jerry is well-organized. For example, there is an index available to the essays/posts he has written and interviews he has conducted with other writers, teachers, and authorities in the genre.

Q4U: Is there something you’re struggling with in your memoir writing? Have you reached a point where you are questioning your own ability to write memoir? Or is there something else bothering you about your writing?

Previous Posts in the Series:

  1. The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith
  2. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
  3. The Power of Memoir: How to Write Your Healing Story by Linda Joy Myers
  4. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
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