Monday, November 28, 2016

Life + Inspiration = Fiction

When the Dora-Faye Hendricks of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society invited me to give a talk (as opposed to a reading) for the Words, Writers & West Seattle series, I’ll admit I was stumped. Despite a lifetime of teaching and dozens of bookstore and library readings, I am not a public speaker. I can read. I can’t speak. Or perhaps I should say, I can’t speak unless I’m teaching. It’s different. Besides, I had no idea what to talk about.

Then I met Clay Eals on Alki Beach to film this video invitation to the event. We stood next to the sign post that graces the cover of Running Secrets with Elliot Bay behind us and the gorgeous Seattle skyline in the distance. It was a clear day – rare in these weeks of winter gray – and once again I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place I call home.  

Still, I am even less comfortable with video-taping than I am with public speaking, so Clay chatted and joked and helped me relax. He asked about my event and encouraged me to talk about myself, my connections to West Seattle, and my inspiration for The Alki Trilogy.

“They want to know about you,” Clay said. “They want to know the person behind the stories.”

I pondered this for a while before admitting that every time I read a book or attend a book event, I want to know about the author and his or her inspiration. Where did she get the idea? Why did he write this particular story? I decided there might be other readers like me who are interested in where ideas and characters come from and how life experiences play into fiction. Are you?

As I considered the circuitous journey my life has taken, my West Seattle connections and the inspiration for The Alki Trilogy, I better understood how deeply these facets of my life are connected and the planning of my talk became easier.

I’m gathering photographs and stories, facts and statistics that I hope will explain the life and inspiration behind The Alki Trilogy. I hope you can join me this Friday and tell me what you think!

Barnes and Noble - Westwood Village
2600 SW Barton St Suite E-1
Seattle, WA 98126
Friday, December 2, 2016
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Video Invitation

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Memoir Is

Memoir is a tool for understanding the world and our place in it, for processing pain and for coming to terms with past and present realities.

We all have stories to tell. However, we do not necessarily know what they are and why they are important. Writing can help us see why our stories matter, and why we feel a sense of urgency to tell them. Carefully considered, our stories can shed light on our moral assignments.
Mary Pipher, Writing to Change the World
Memoir is more than simply slapping a story on a journal page. Like all writing, it involves discipline, dedication, and process. There are as many ways to write, as many practices and techniques, as there are writers, but in the end a solid memoir is a well-written story with universal appeal.

A good memoir requires two elements – one of art, the other of craft. The first is integrity of intention … Memoir is how we try to make sense of who we are, who we once were, and what values and heritage shaped us. If a writer seriously embarks on that quest, readers will be nourished by the journey, bringing along many associations with quests of their own.
The other element is carpentry. Good memoirs are a careful act of construction … Memoir writers must manufacture a text, imposing narrative order on a jumble of half-remembered events. With that feat of manipulation they arrive at a truth that is theirs alone, not quite like that of anybody else who was present at the same events.
William Zinsser, Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir
Memoir is truth, the writer’s truth. As we write, we remind ourselves that we are telling our own truth, that we are being as honest as we are capable of being, that there is rarely just one singular truth.

The memoir is not and should never be confused with the truth. The very act of writing creates a literary construct: alteration is inevitable. As a result, truth belongs to the teller. Truth is relative to the teller.
Laura Kalpakian, The Memoir Club
Next Saturday, November 16, I have the pleasure of joining a panel of three other memoirists to explore memoir from inspiration to publication. Allan Ament, Margaret Bendet, Judith Works, and I will discuss topics ranging from techniques for generating ideas and methods for drafting and organizing to publishing options in today’s changing landscape. I hope you’ll join us.

135 N Washington Ave, Arlington WA 98223-1422
Saturday, November 16, 2016
2:00 – 3:30 pm