Wednesday, May 25, 2011


People who know I write for love and not money probably think there’s something wrong with my moorings. They don’t quite comprehend that writing can be an end in itself—and a profoundly rewarding one. In fact, it goes into the making of a good life.
            A good life, for me at least, means making connections with the world around me. It means a heightened awareness of people with sensitivity to all sorts of subtle shadings. It means an existence without murkiness. The discipline of writing conditions the mind for this kind of life. It enables me to develop the tri-dimensional or stereoscopic habit.
            The women in my life become more defined in their own uniqueness, and, as I write, I feel a sisterhood blossom like Spring flowers. We are wives, widows, daughters mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts; we run houses and businesses, we nurture babies and husbands; we take care of parents; we garden and run for Congress, we listen and console.
            The man seated next to me at a dinner party has always been a bore, but now I look at him through different eyes. He fascinates me; he is literary fodder. True, he is a “stereotype”; the golf-playing cigar-smoking, back-slapping business man; but now I talk to him, draw him out, and he lets me have a glimpse of the part of him that is not a cliché. Before I started to write, this kind of evening would numb me; now it excites my imagination.
When I sit down to write, I change places with fate. I am its master at last. For a little while I am no longer one of millions dominated by forces quite outside my control; I become truly omnipotent. What could be sweeter? I create my characters, I make things happen or not happen to them. I make then happy or sad. I look at life from a few steps back, as if viewing a painting. I manipulate, maneuver and fashion. I know what is going to happen because I make it happen.
We humans are a mixed lot; invincible and vulnerable, independent and needy, insecure and powerful. I have tried, in my writing, to understand and celebrate the gloriously complicated lives of people for my own and my readers’ discovery. To me, this is the supreme function of writing. It is no easy calling, but its rewards go so far beyond the mundane, that I hope to practice it for as many years as I have left on earth.


Monday, May 9, 2011

WRITING YOUR LIFE, Part Five: Yours Alone

Although someone else in your family may have experienced the same event or person in your memoir entirely differently, this is your memory, your truth and your experience. My brother remembers our mother as being weak and frightened. I remember her as being strong and brave. Perceptions are complicated and personal and singular, and the more your respect your own unique insight, the more fun you'll have writing and the more your memoir will come to life on the page.

The writer and teacher, Brenda Ueland, says that you must write from your true self and not from the self you—or others—think you should. No individual is exactly like any other individual.

No two identical persons have ever  existed—including twins. Therefore, if you tell the truth and speak from your true self, you cannot help having something important, unique and interesting to say that will be treasured for generations to come.