Welcome to Following the Whispers blog
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.
“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf
“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
How Writing Memoir Helped Me Grow As a Person - by Sharon Lippincott
Several months ago I made a commitment to writing a memoir of my girlhood in Los Alamos. That was a unique place to grow up, especially right after World War II, when the world was booming — and so were test shots on nearby mesas (none radioactive). My challenge is to craft a memoir that balances time and place with my personal story. I want the book to appeal to people who are interested in Los Alamos and its history, even if they never heard of me.
As I pondered a few dark key memories, especially about fitting in at school, a stunning thing happened. Those images suddenly reversed. I discovered that if I turned things around 180º, they looked quite different. If I was left out, it probably happened once or twice a year, certainly not every day. Happy memories began flooding back. Some, like being the last one chosen for softball teams no longer mattered. Those dark memories were nothing but negatives for “printing” a positive picture.
Other less tangible memories like my ongoing fascination and subliminal awareness of Indian “spirit” surfaced. I recognized the paradox most of us lived with — fascination with science and technology on one hand and a thriving community of churches on the other.
I don’t think I would have retrieved and developed many of these memories or connected the dots between them if I hadn’t determined to write this memoir. There is something about the process of writing that breathes new life into old thoughts, revitalizing them and displaying them in new contexts and colors.
My involvement in the overall field of life writing has become yet another career that’s a source of joy and satisfaction I never found in my earlier work. Writing memoir is giving me the opportunity to find the roots of my strengths and prune the energy sapping weeds from my view of the past. And that has to be a good thing.
Thank you, Sharon, for these wonderful insights into memoir writing.
Sharon Lippincott never set out to write a memoir. She only intended to write a few stories to share with her grandchildren, so they’d know what life was like when she was young. That intention took on a life of its own. She discovered that she loved writing stories about her life and the people in it. She fell in love with this earthy, open, informal style of writing. She joined internet groups, read everything she could find, and began teaching lifestory writing workshops at local senior centers, libraries and continuing ed programs.
Then her pile of handouts got out of control and morphed into a book, The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing. As soon as she committed to writing that book, she started a blog on the subject and joined Story Circle Network, a women’s organization that at the time, was the only organization she was aware of for lifestory and memoir writers. Shortly after that, Jerry Waxler, a fellow blogger, joined with Sharon to start the Life Writers Forum to provide a non-exclusive place for memoir writers to collaborate and grow together.
The next phase began about a year ago when Linda Joy Meyers asked her to serve on the Advisory Board for the newly formed National Association of Memoir Writers. That was a timely turning point. Sharon had piled up over 500 vignette stories There were plenty more to write, but penning random stories had lost its challenge. She’d published a short memoir of her preschool years, and was ready for a bigger project. Her involvement with NAMW motivated her to study the power of memoir and its tranformative value, and the more she learned, the more intrigued she became.
I found Sharon when I began my internet marketing experience after publishing “Following the Whispers.” She was one of the first people I “met” and, in addition to writing a stellar review of my memoir,” Sharon turned me on to all sorts of groups, including NAMW and Story Circle Network. She has provided the following links—do yourselves a favor and check them out.
Sharon’s blog: http://heartandcraft.blogspot.com/
Sharon’s book: http://snurl.com/vgejv
Life Writers Forum: http://www.lifewritersforum.com/
Story Circle Network: http://www.storycircle.org/
National Association of Memoir Writers: http://www.namw.org/