Looking Back on 2019

Yes, I’m a bit late in looking back on 2019. But I found it difficult to put into words my feelings about the last year and the three previous ones.

 
Before talking about 2019, I want to thank my followers and readers for their patience. My on again off again presence during the last four years can’t have been easy to follow. You have been faithful in spite of my erratic posting and communication and for that I am grateful.
 
As I typed this post title, I shuddered a bit as I thought about the year 2019 and what preceded it. It’s difficult to believe I’ve been in and out of blogging for almost four years. Additionally, I set my memoir manuscript aside in September 2018. I’ve not touched it since.
 
Progress in my mobility has encouraged me. My walking has improved thanks to the use of trekking poles rather than a cane or walker. Pain levels are down, thanks to a new pain management doctor. To my delight, a loss of nine pounds, despite my inability to engage in aerobic exercise, has lifted me up. All positives at the end of 2019.
 
These changes near the beginning of a new decade have infused me with a desire to begin writing again. I’ve been reading several books on nonfiction essay writing. I find I love this area of nonfiction storytelling. Current plans don’t include revisiting my current memoir manuscript any time soon. I have a couple of projects in mind which I’d like to try first.
 
As for the blog, posts will appear weekly on Wednesday. At the moment, I am uncertain when I will begin sending out my newsletter again. When its circulation is on the horizon, I will post about it here. 

Featured Image Attribution: Schwoaze from Pixabay

Memoir Writing Tips

Whether you are beginning your memoir or have almost finished with that first draft, I hope the links listed below provide you with useful memoir writing tips. These links appeared on the Internet in recent days.

With autumn in full swing, it feels like a time for starting or restarting our writing projects. After working on a draft of my memoir for the last decade, I found the information tucked behind these links helpful.

Here goes:

 

Regarding links to books, see Disclosures.

Featured image from Pixabay

 

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

 
 
In my opinion, Dani Shapiro is an excellent writer. By reading her books, nonfiction or fiction, a reader can learn a great deal about writing. Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love is no different. 
 
A random DNA sample returns results which stun Shapiro and her husband. A lower percentage of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage in her background leaves Shapiro suspicious. Considering her parents’ backgrounds, the Ashkenazi percentage should have been higher. With both parents now dead, who could she ask about this possible aberration?
 
Shapiro immediately begins her search for the truth. But what is the truth she keeps asking herself? And who is there to help her? Her Aunt Shirley is one possible source. Although she can’t solve the mystery, Aunt Shirley consoles Shapiro and tells Shapiro that:
 
“confusion about the identity of her biological dad can be a door to discovering who a father really is.” (Emphasis added.)
 
I found the first half of the book difficult to read because of several repetitive portions. Shapiro’s obsession with the question of her “Jewishness” may result in repetitions. Her obsession causes her to worry over her identity within her family and in the larger world. The obsessions and the worrying are understandable, but they become monotonous. These chapters are short and moved along at a quick pace.
 
The second half of the memoir is more engaging. Shapiro shares her attempts to connect with her biological father. Research reveals similarities in appearance, posture, and traits and mannerisms. This story is woven with threads coming from multifaceted situations involving real people. At times, Shapiro belabors her points but she always comes back to the truth and history wrapped up in her story
 
Fans of her other books will enjoy reading how Shapiro coped with this unsettling find. It is clear to me that Inheritance will likely draw others who haven’t read any of her books.

 

 

The Writing Studio Proudly Presents…

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

 

A look at the finished project.

After hours and hours of design work plus hard labor building this wonderful space for me, I know Bob is glad to see this day come. We still have flooring to get down and some additional landscaping come spring. But it’s ready for me to spend my writing time there.

Several months ago I posted about this project and included three images. Things definitely look different today.

Here are a few photos of the Studio now. Clicking on an image will enlarge it and also provide the images in a slideshow format.

 

Gratitude and love fill my heart.

While Bob worked so hard last summer and then finished the exterior painting and clean up this last month, I was sitting in my recliner or on good days at my corner writing space. Depending on the day, I might have been prone on the bed. At times, I felt guilty he was working so hard to get this additional writing space completed.

I say “additional” because as noted in my previous blog post I don’t have wifi access in my studio. This is intentional. When I’m in that space, with classical or soft jazz music playing and nature all around outside, I want to focus on writing, reading, and/or research.

In the near term, I’ll be revising my memoir manuscript one last time before sending it off into the big wide world. My studio will be my workroom void of distractions as I want to provide a work as near to a finished product as I can.

You are owed my thanks as well.

Over the past 33 months, as I struggled to stay present online and to write, so many have encouraged and supported me. I can share with you that we thought things were improving recently. For a short while, we thought we had the answers in front of us, but that changed last week with a call from my surgeon. Some days you wonder if it’s ever going to end.

Continue to be the writing community you are, and it will allow each writer here, there, or wherever you spend your social media and reading time the chance to publish a memoir or a first novel or YA work. You never know whose life you have touched.

Via Quotefancy

Writer MIA 27 Days Returns to Write Again!

Where was I the last 27 days?

Almost a month ago, I posted on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn that I was taking a breather. I needed some self-care, and I wanted to attempt a little spring cleaning. I thought ten days or less should cover it. Why I didn’t post my planned absence here I don’t know. So much for my thinking things through!

 

During what was to be a short time, life took over. You know how plans exert their muscle and change themselves around. That’s what happened. Family issues, health issues, things you never expected–they left no time for my plans.

But wait, you say! There have been no blog posts or newsletter for a while.

I realize you’re following here or receiving updates via my newsletter to receive posts and more information about writing. The reason for this post is to let you know what happened and what is happening in the background. I’m on my way back and want to get back to a normal schedule.

About the Blog

Right now I’m working on the following:

  • A series of posts on writing with chronic pain or illness;
  • A couple of memoir reviews for you–
    • Rose Bingham’s Buy the Little Ones a Dolly;
    • Abigail Thomas’s Thinking About Memoir; and
  • Posts on balancing family life and writing.

Blog posts will return to the previous schedule with posts on Wednesday.

About the Newsletter

After this newsletter mailing, I will not be sending out a newsletter. Personal reasons dictate a writing load I want to keep up and there is not the time for everything.

If you receive my blog posts via the newsletter and wish to continue receiving them, please go to the sidebar on the right of this page. Choose one of three options near the top of the sidebar:

  • The first option is just under the search box. If you are a WordPress user, this simple bar reads “Follow The Writing Studio.” It allows you to “follow” my blog with no more effort than a simple click. My blog posts will then show up in your WordPress Reader.
  • Option two is just below that bar and asks if you’d like to receive my posts via email. If so, simply fill out the form and click on the “Click to Follow” button and WordPress will send them to you.
  • A third option labeled “Let’s Connect” allows you to receive my blog posts on any of the social media channels listed there. Simply click the icon and it will take you where want to go.

Thanks for your understanding and continuing support as I get back in the saddle. Sometimes the writing life is a difficult one, but I can’t seem to turn my back on it. I love writing, the writing community (all of you included), and the joy found in the written word.

 

 

 

 

 

Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith by D.L. Mayfield | Book Review

Before beginning this book review, I want to point out that my scheduling of this book for review was well in place before the Executive Order signed on Friday, January 27, 2017, went into effect. However, Divine Providence likely knew of the events to come, and as D.L. Mayfield’s memoir shares the author’s experiences working with and living among refugees and immigrants in my hometown, Portland, Oregon, it is definitely a good time to look at what Mayfield’s thoughts and reactions are to her experiences. AND this is a good time for all of us to begin to search for ways to help the marginalized among us, no matter who received your vote in November. We are needed now more than ever before to stand up and share the goodness and generosity that made America great in the first place.


A social justice activist and writer shares her personal experience working with refugees and the ways her faith has been challenged and strengthened—leading her to experience the power of God’s love and find her true spiritual calling.

Determined to save the world, one soul at a time, nineteen-year-old D. L. Mayfield left her conservative Christian home to become a missionary to Somali Bantu refugees in Portland, Oregon. But after a decade proselytizing, she realized that she had not converted one single Muslim. “I am pretty much the worst missionary ever,” she despaired.

Yet in her time working with these displaced people, Mayfield’s eyes were opened to something much bigger. “I started to read the Scriptures with new eyes, informed by the people who the Bible was written by and to—the people at the margins of society. And it was so much better than I could have believed. The blessings of Jesus were to be found in the most unexpected places. The kingdom is real, alive, and changing everything—liberating, setting free, healing, and preaching news that is actually truly good, in the here and now.”

Assimilate or Go Home is the story of her awakening. Mayfield shows us how God’s love is transforming lives, and makes clear that instead of saving the world, we can join God’s party by loving all of our neighbors—especially those on society’s edge. With vulnerability and a touch of humor, Mayfield reflects upon how her faith was challenged, and urges all of us to reconsider our concepts of justice, love, and being a citizen of this world—and the kingdom of God.

Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith by D.L. Mayfield
Published: Harper One (August 16, 2016)
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback, 224 pages

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Buy the book:   Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“I used to want to witness to people, to tell them the story of God in digestible pieces, to win them over to my side. But more and more I am hearing the still small voice calling me to be the witness. To live in proximity to pain and suffering and injustice instead of high-tailing it to a more calm and isolated life. To live with eyes wide open on the edges of our world, the margins of our society.”

BOOK review:

The quote above sums up what D.L. Mayfield shares with her readers in a collection of essays on her life as a missionary serving refugees and immigrants in Portland, Oregon. Mayfield’s experiences are many and at times stun her into wondering why she is doing what she is doing.

Mayfield struggles to communicate with non-English speaking people, and she herself does not speak any of their languages. How do you help those who don’t understand you when you ask if they are hungry, or thirsty, or feeling sick? How do you cope with the feelings of uselessness you feel when you can’t understand these people or treat their needs.

All of these things are the subject of Mayfield’s memoir which explores her feelings of failure and inability to do what she has believed to be the work of missionaries since her childhood.

Mayfield’s writing is pleasant and at times lyrical in her storytelling. Some of her essays even hold a bit of humor and charm in them. However, the underlying facts are brutal to those of us who have never experienced extreme hunger, health needs, or poverty. I think the harshness of these needs also struck Mayfield harder than she ever expected.

The transformation Mayfield experiences during her time serving the Somalis in Portland is clearly one she found filled with an increased faith of her own. Her wisdom is ancient, found in the daily grind of life, and shared as the way she lives her days.

Mayfield teaches us that the benefit of working with those less fortunate is actually a two-way partnership. What she learned from her Somali neighbors and friends was a story of resilience and courage. What they learned from Mayfield was acceptance and kindness. What a lovely story in the end; what a difficulty journey to get there.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who believed as a young person you were going out and change the world. Read Mayfield’s Assimilate or Go Home and you’ll learn just how hard it is to do that. And she’ll show you just how much you’ll be the one doing the changing.

About the Author:

D.L. Mayfield, Author
D.L. Mayfield, Author

D. L. Mayfield lives and writes in Portland, OR with her husband and two small children. Mayfield likes to write about refugees, theology, and downward mobility, among other topics. She has written for places as varied as McSweeneys, Christianity Today, Image journal, and the Toast. Her book of essays, Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith is forthcoming from HarperOne in August 2016.

Connect with the author:

Website | Twitter