A Good Home, Blessings, Memoir-Writing, Writers, Writing, Writing workshops

MIXED BLESSINGS

It’s November, the month when many writers write.

Not me.

I’m not working on the next book, not writing my blog, not even journal-ing every day.

~~

In typical Cynthia fashion, I had a good stretch of days some weeks ago and was so thankful for it, I tried to do too much.

Ignored the warning signs. Committed other rampant acts of mindless-ness.

The bad pain came, then the flu. And throughout it all, the bloody nightmares whenever I slept long enough.

But pushing myself, as my therapist and journals remind me, is how I’ve come this far.

And I’m pushing again.

~~

Twice a week now, I lead very small groups of individuals who are writing their memoirs.

None is a professional or even an experienced writer. But they are bright, interesting, mature people.

Some of their stories are painful to write, I know. But what a joy for me to help them develop as writers.

They’re changing in front of my eyes — and theirs. Blooming.  

~~

At first, I wondered how they’d see me.

It’s obvious I have difficulty walking – sometimes it’s very bad. But I decided to reveal — on the very first day — some of the stuff others don’t immediately see. That I sometimes stutter or speak strangely. That I might struggle to cross-reference or absorb new information and that if voices/sounds come at me from more than one source, it affects me.

Just as well I did.

I’ve come up against my limits repeatedly – and so markedly, twice, that I later went to the washroom and cried.

Then there’s the tiny paycheque.  I earned more money in my early 20’s!

So why am I smiling?

This activity has given me a purpose outside the home. I spend 2 hours, twice a week, with a group of individuals whom I like, respect and marvel at. I can see their progress each week and it delights me. The stories they tell — even the painful ones –are a balm to my soul. 

~~

Blessed am I to have such students.

And blessed am I to have readers who notice when my blogging patterns are ‘off’, and ask why.

Thank you.

 

A Good Home, Words, Writers, Writing

“Just Write,” she said

A women’s group once asked me to read excerpts from my personal stories. They asked why and how I wrote them. And they asked for advice about writing their own memoirs.

Paraphrased below, is what I said.

~~

Write.

Write about memorable experiences, even the tiny ones.

Write about yourself;  things you did or saw happen; the people you met. Write about what they said, and how that affected you; what you learned from them.

But above all, just get into the habit of jotting things down. In a journal, a notebook. On your cell phone. Pieces of paper. The phone bill.

Write. Jot it down.

A word you love. A quote from someone else. The way the light shone through your window and lit up the polished wood floors. The way that made you feel.

Blog Photo - Salle a manger

~~

Over time, you may have enough material for one story, or dozens. You don’t try to get them published. Too personal, you think. And – – what if no-one even likes them?

Then, by a twist of fate, you have an accident and find yourself unable to move from your bed on many days.  When you talk, you stutter. And when you walk, you may even fall.

You will not be able to write a story for years.

But you will have those old stories to remind you of the kinds of people you met, experiences you had, insights you learned – in short, the life you lived.  You may discover that you’d been blessed with a very good life. And that you had been given a wonderful gift in the form of those stories.

Then, along comes a  prestigious magazine that wants to publish your stories, and a publisher who wants to launch your first book. Turns out that in those dozens of stories, written over 25 years, you had, unknowingly, recorded the elements of your memoir.

agoodhome_cynthiareyes

Then thousands of people read your book, A Good Home, and take comfort — even joy — from it.

And that, taken singly or together, is both a surprise and a huge serving of grace.

Just write.

Top photo by J. Van Burek.