Tag Archive for risk-taking

Client Success: Ann Temkin’s Memoir Illustrates Personal Struggle to Revelation in Spiritual Quest

“I know others have held the same secret,” Ann J. Temkin said of her newly released memoir. “I needed to explore this period of my life, and I wanted to let them know they are not alone.”

The Smoking Nun recounts a woman’s conflicts over loving God, humanity, and one forbidden man.  Passion, struggle, and betrayal ignite this true story lived amidst the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War. Advanced readers found the book inspiring, relevant, and revealing for our current times, calling it “a spiritual quest bound with an inextricable thirst for justice.”

In late 2015, Ann saw the Oscar-winning film Spotlight about The Boston Globe investigative journalists who found proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.  Even though her situation was not the same, Ann began to think differently about a part of her life she had kept secret.  Then came her struggle with whether or not to write about her hidden love affair with a Catholic priest.

Soon, she went to the book signing of a friend.  “She didn’t know my story. No one did.  And when she signed my book, she wrote, ‘Tell your story.  It matters.’  I took that as a sign and began to write.”

Though possessing a career’s worth of writing experience and a published author of 2014’s memoir Sight In The Sandstorm: Jesus in His World and Mine, Ann shared that writing this book was often painful.

“My story involves an early time when I was not in touch with my own feelings and in an environment that encouraged denial. Writing about it, I often asked myself, ‘What was I feeling?’  I had to confront realizations and emotions that had never surfaced before. And it was scary to make myself so vulnerable, not just about the secret, but about my spiritual life.”

As her editor, Ann and I worked from initial writing through publication.  “Wayne got it, and when he didn’t, he asked questions and remained encouraging.”  I facilitated a focus group to lead into final revision, and she credits the stellar panel for their insight and praise. Ann’s cover designer Cristina Montesinos, along with fellow authors, friends, and Mort, her husband of 35 years, were positive influences during the two-plus years of process to publication.

Ann always welcomes opportunities to share her book and hear reflections from readers.  See Ann reading from and signing her books at

  • St. Andrew’s in the Pines, Peachtree City, Wed, Nov 7, 7pm
  • North Decatur Presbyterian, Tues, Nov 13, Noon

For details about other opportunities, see www.anntemkin.com or follow her on Facebook.

For budding writers, Ann advises, “Just start somewhere.  Anywhere. Then just write. Thinking about it comes later.

Through her journey of revisiting and resolving the past, Ann came out stronger on both life and writing.  “I’m not at all shy about calling myself a writer now.”

Teen Writer Success: Curtained Confidence

Academic Coaching available

While conducting a writing workshop for teens, I encountered a 14-year old boy who didn’t interact in discussions or make eye contact.  His jet black hair covered his face Emo-style leaving only piercings and tattoos visible.

teen writers 4After giving instruction followed by an exercise, I walked the room for individual questions.  The boy was silent, sitting like a statue with black-nailed hands in his lap.  A notebook was perched atop the desk opened to a blank page harboring a lonesome, loitering pen.

Kneeling next to him, I asked him about his writing experience.  His head upturned toward me, and I imagined he was peering through the thick locks that hung over his face like a sheepdog’s.

Quiet and well mannered, he peeped, “I like to write, but I’m a bad writer.”

“Do you ever write just for yourself?” I asked.

He shook his head.

I instructed him to change his thinking, so he could exercise his desire to write and become a good one.  “Write just for you right now.”

teen writer 5The mop of locks slowly swayed from side to side as he turned away.  I thought of how some teacher, some parent or sibling, even some friend – a saboteur of his creativity and expression – had not liked what he wrote for some reason, then put him down, teased him, maybe lowered his grade.  He believed this person was right and himself to be very, very wrong.  Unrepairable.

I picked up his pen, handed it to him, then tapped the paper and said, “Please, can you give it a try?”  He tilted his head down, and the screen of hair fell upon the page like a final curtain closing on a poorly reviewed production.

When I came around a few moments later, I asked how it was going.  Without saying a word, he handed me the notebook.  On it was scrawled, “I want to write more.”  He wasn’t ready to say he was a good writer, but with the saboteur hammering on the walls inside his mop-topped head, he’d made incredible progress.  With five words, he showed he was willing to face his fear and express his thoughts in writing.

“That’s great.  You’re moving forward.  Keep writing.”

With barely detectable fervor, his head bobbed and the curtain shimmied like a musician playing a slow jam.   His arm was moving across and down the page.  I wondered if he was drawing, but never got a chance to look inside the curtain until a magic moment when it lifted as his head came up to face me.  There on the page were words, row after row of words from a teen experiencing freedom.

I hoped he could see my encouraging smile.

Here’s another story about Teen Writer Success.

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

Disclaimer —  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Chart A Course To Write Your Memoir

Like clients Kirby and Jonathan, you can write and publish your memoir.
Consider the Memoir class as getting your feet wet, the Creative Writers Workshop as training, and personal writer’s coaching & editing as the swim toward the finish line.

 

Start Somewhere.

nyad.espncdn.com.1 - CopyDiana Nyad, 64, an American long distance swimmer, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage in September 2013.  She attempted the 110-mile swim in 1978, then three more times during 2011-2012 without success.  Undaunted, she kept trying.

Some take to writing easily, while others need encouragement.  All could become successful writers.

I’ve seen those who keep dipping their toes rippling the surface ‘thinking’ about writing while others tread water.  These waste mental and physical efforts.  With practice and determination, others jump in to navigate their past and write their memoir.

Get in the Water.

SWIMMING-CUBA-US-NYADOn earlier tries, Nyad was stung by jellyfish, harassed by harsh currents and battered by storms forcing her to quit.  Still, her quest wasn’t over.  She changed tactics, updated equipment, and kept trying.  Obstacles were just lessons to examine and conquer.

Many hindrances can slow writers, but our self-doubts can sink us.  My greatest lesson in how to deal with doubt came from my swimming practice.

Whenever excuses weigh me down, and I really, really don’t want to swim, my motto is ‘get in the water.’  This never fails: I begin with the assurance I can stop whenever I want.  All the negative messages float into my mind like stinging jellyfish or attack my gut like sharks.  I endure and keep swimming.

Interestingly, whatever was blocking me – sinus issues, achey body, ornery mood – improves or dissipates.  Each time, I accomplish my goal of swimming my usual number of laps.

Jump headfirst into your writing.  Enjoy the weightlessness of freedom, the unburdened feeling of writing what comes from your pool of memories.  See what surfaces.

Swim with Friends.

diana-nyad-florida-to-cuba-swimNyad, like any seasoned athlete, dove to mental and emotional depths to acquire physical strength to complete her goal.  She didn’t swim alone; she had community onshore, as well as a boat load of folks for moral support and to watch her back.

In teaching memoir for years, I’ve seen group after group coalesce and support one another to dive deep into consciousness and bring up treasures.

Join the Memoir class, a guided group of no more than six participants. The expedition is more fun, even more enlightening, with others.

Go for the Goal!

nyad.cbsmiami - Copy“I have three messages,” Nyad said on the beach after her historic swim (Associated Press).  “One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”

Compassionate, honest fellow writers are crucial to your success; they want you to win! This happens with every Creative Writers Workshop I’ve led, a group of no more than 4 writers.

As your writing coach, I mentor you to chart your writing’s course and hold you accountable as you move from writing and revising to editing and publishing.

With friends and a dedicated coach on your team, you can more easily write and complete your memoir.

nyad.gmanewstv - Copy
Memoir Class

Creative Writers Workshop

Personal Writer’s Coaching & Editing, by appointment

 
References: Associated Press; Mike Smollins.
Photos:CBS/Miami; ESPN/CDN; GMA News TV; IlPostIt

Dead Air or Well-fed Relationship?

mother-daughter

“Just the headlines!” Paige demanded, interrupting me with more brass than a marching band.

I’d known her game through years of friendship.  As a retired broadcaster, she gets impatient with lengthy descriptions.

“Okay, okay!”  I feigned defeat, waited for her reaction, then went right back to telling the same story, only faster.

She tilted her head back into her thick mane, pursed her lips and squinted her eyes in submission.  If uninterrupted, I knew I had her for another ninety seconds.

Too soon, her phone vibrated on the table like a half-dead locust.  She diverted her gaze as she picked it up.  That’s when I stopped.

“It’s Peri,” she said beginning to text her daughter, then, without looking up or missing a keystroke, she added, “I can multitask.  Continue.”

I didn’t, preferring to wait for her full attention.  Instead, I watched her focus on making a point in minimal words.  Those two text all the time, talk on the phone weekly, and keep a strong face-to-face relationship at least once per month.  Each mode of communication enhances the relationship.  Paige views texting like keeping an eye on the ticker crawling across the bottom of the news channel, whereas phone calls are news programming, and being together is the up-close-and-personal unedited interview.

Texting complete, Paige looked up with faux irritation.  “Go on.”

And I did.  It was my turn under the network lights.

That doesn’t happen for me all the time.  I think of Hal, a buddy who texts occasionally, but when I return it, especially if I ask a simple question about how he’s doing, there’s dead air.  When I see him, he doesn’t share much either.  He gives out soundbytes like Halloween candy, a sweet little tidbit before smiling and closing the door leaving me outside.

Another acquaintance from years ago, Fiona, loved talking on the phone, so I rarely saw her personally.  Her modus operandi for gathering and disseminating information was simple:  share  a little to break the ice, ask leading questions, and get the juiciest morsel.  When she heard a gossipy soundbyte, her mind raced to an internal rolodex to determine who to call while the person finished the story and asked for support.  Like what happened to Marla sharing her heartbreak. gossip.girl

“You’ll be fine,” Fiona snapped.

“But I hoped—“

“Someone’s beeping in.  Call you tomorrow.”  Fiona got what she wanted and disconnected.

When tomorrow came, Marla didn’t hear from Fiona, but heard her brutally edited story from someone she never would have told.  Marla felt manipulated and betrayed by Fiona’s over simplification, which added to her pain.

Where’s personal reflection and honest interaction?   Hal hides it away from everyone, maybe even from himself.  Fiona fakes it and feeds off it from a distance over the wire.  None of this is new in our culture of mass communication, ever-increasing information, and survival-mode summarization.  Still, our fondness for using electronic devices instead of having face-to-face contact where we can sense emotional reaction and read nonverbal communication leaves something big out of the conversation.  Many feel the loss.  Some mourn it.

Though my friend Paige is sometimes anxious to get to the point, she still wants to experience the journey.  She loves the interpersonal, is integral within a large community, as well as treats family and friends with equal care.  She’s laughs, cries and hugs it out with her wide circle.  Paige achieves this by balancing written and verbal communication, as well as by integrating text, social media, Skype, phone calls and personal contact to nurture rich, rewarding relationships in today’s hurried world.

Soundbytes are simply a tease.  Headlines are just an invitation.  With the important people in your life, do you want to nourish relationships with nibbles or five-course meals?  And what would you like to consume to feel nurtured and satisfied?

 

Disclaimer:  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.