Just Write

Writing has been a freeing force

Do you want to write true stories, but worry about hurting people’s feelings?

Megan Kaplon, in an interview with Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk:

“When working on academic projects, she (Helen Macdonald) experiences anxiety about being correct, about saying the right thing, but writing memoir has been a freeing force.”

“When it’s yourself, you feel the truth inside yourself. . . It becomes something utterly manifest when you know you’re writing something from the heart.” – Helen Macdonald

Quotes from “Giving sorrow words,”  The Writer, July 2015

Heart.black outlineMarlene’s Musings: In my opinion, you cannot go wrong when writing from the heart. Sometimes, when writing memoir, it’s wrong to write for an audience. Write for yourself. And if you find an audience, then hooray! But first, write from your heart. You can use these guidelines when writing about difficult subjects.

Some of my favorite memoirs, where, I think, the authors wrote from a sacred heart place.

What Have We Here, Susan Bono
You Can’t Catch Death, Ianthe Brautigan
Imperfect endings, Zoe Fitzgerald Carter
Captive Silence, Alla Crone
I Give You My Word, Janice Crow
Ellevie, Marcelle Evie Guy
A Life in Stitches, Rachael Herron
Grief Denied, Pauline Laurent
To Have Not, Frances Lefkowitz

Your Turn: Who are your favorite memoirists, or authors who write true stories?


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  1. Kathy Myers

    I aspire big time to be as good as some of the authors you mention above. Mark Twain’s autobiography is a master work. I also enjoyed Wild by Cheryl Strayed. She said one of her favorite memoirs was James Ellroy’s, My Dark Places. I loved it as well, and met him at a lecture and book signing at SSU. That experience inspired a 500 word essay which I submitted to Big Brick Review. Funny how all this works; threads of connection, and Marlene’s musings keep me chugging along on my writing journey.

    1. mcullen Post author

      I also love these connections, Kathy. And I love the thought of you chugging along. . . like the little train that could. . . you know you can, because you are. . . writing! Loving it!

  2. justinefos

    More of the ‘Wild Life’ in Mt. Morris, WI

    Today I was awake and out of bed just before sunrise, to be able to watch the lake, the forest and cornfield as their inhabitants awaken and begin their new day of hunting for their food sources. It is also my best opportunity to see the woodland creatures begin their day. As the sun peeks over the Mt. Morris 360 ft mountain, the cornfield is becoming bathed in rich variegated greens, turning the leaves luminous.

    It is now the last week of July. Bird calls are not as frantic as earlier in June, since the babies have left their nests. Even the deer seem to have sent their babes out on their own. I just watched a fawn, still in its spots, thread it’s way through the tall meadow grass, across the dirt and pine needle covered road, and through the pines, to be swallowed by iridescent corn stalks.

    Just two days ago I caught a photo of our local Doe and fawn standing in our meadow about 200 yards east of our house. As I pointed my iPhone camera toward them, the Doe loudly snorted and stomped her front feet to warn me away. They usually bed down in the forest at my favorite meditation spot, just southwest of the house and a few feet from the lake. It’s a secluded spot because the bushes and trees are pretty thick along the shore. The area around the trees is matted down from generations of deer lying on the ground in that very same place.

    Having seen the fawn on its own has made me worry about the Doe. I do hope nothing untoward has happened to the Doe. I expressed my concern to our friend, Martin, the arborist who helps us care for the 4 – 5 acres for which we have stewardship, reassures me that though the fawn looks very young, this is about when they are sent out on their own.

    Sunrise is a most beautiful time of the day, though it looks like another 80+ degrees with 98% humidity. I am glad that I got out to dispense the seed to birds and squirrels while it was still a bit cool.

    I finally decided to stop fighting with the squirrels. I have negotiated a treaty to keep them out of the bird feeders. I put a small bucket of sunflower seeds at the base of their favorite bird feeder, as well as scattered the same onto two different piles of drying tree stump pieces. The feeders on the ground diverts the squirrels attention, making it much easier for them to not have to do the climbing up the pole to then have to contort their bodies to get to the seeds. It also allows the birds to land unhindered to take seeds from feeders designed for …birds!

    Meanwhile my favorite ‘punk’ woodpecker is flying back and forth from bird feeder to its favorite tree – a tall oak. Said feeder is a repurposed bowl-shaped, green flower-pot that hangs from wires on an old black lamp post. Today is the first time I have seen his Dame. She has a white head – should have a little red tuft over the top of her beak. It’s a bit too far from my window to be able to see small markings. She doesn’t come to the feeder outside the window where I was able photograph her mate.

    Also a pair of doves were on the cement drive way, grooming themselves in unison, as if doing an Avian Veil dance. Whatever they were doing, it caught the amorous attention of a mail of the species. The ‘ladies’ shunned his advances for now.

    Have you ever watched Doves walk quickly? Their heads bob back and forward and back, synchronized with each footstep they take. I would love an opportunity to get the view from behind their eyes just to see what they are seeing; though, I must admit that even thinking about how it would look and feel, causes me to realize my empathic side is already feeling seasick. Guess that goes into the category of “be careful what you wish for.”

    Much to my delight, the Cardinal family has stayed close by. We were able to spot them yesterday hopping from pine tree to driveway, to the grass in the middle of the vehicle turn-around. Lord and Lady Cardinal had at least one offspring. I believe that the male (Our Lordship) is young, because he is still not the brilliant, rich red that the more mature male usually are.
    The female (Her Ladyship) seems to have her full color, but acts young and inexperienced. She seemed to be undecided as to where she should go to find food.

    Speaking of delightful surprises, yesterday at David’s call “to come see!” I got to a window on the east side of the house just in time to see a young Sandhill Crane flying low and slow down our driveway, veering off the drive to fly within 6 feet of the south side of the house, toward the lakeside. It landed, then strolled down our pathway to the edge of the water. What a prehistoric looking creature, all long and gangly, yet with a certain grace. Looked much like a character in a parade that walks on stilts.

    I used up the last of the wild birdseed mix yesterday. We’re due a feed store run today. Because of the dwindled supply the poor deprived birds have to be satisfied with wonderful, fat, sunflower seeds. Well, no, I still have four feeders that have the mixed seeds.

    It is just another day in our piece of paradise.

    © M. Justine Foster
    July 25, 2015

    1. mcullen Post author

      Thanks, Justine, for a fun trip through your piece of paradise. A wonderful mental mini-vacation. 🙂

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