MamaBlogger365 – Deep in the Heart of Texas by Kate Farrell
Hotel hallways crowded with women writers set in motion the Story Circle Memoir Conference in Austin, TX last weekend, April 13-15.
Famous for their wide friendly smiles, women—mostly from the South and Southwest—encouraged one another to express their deep down wisdom in well- crafted memoir. Women of all ages bent their heads over paper and laptops to refine their writing skills and find their unique voice. Better than a quilting party.
The supportive surround of the Story Circle culture created ease in our work. I felt invigorated by the workshop sessions rather than enduring the burn out that can often occur in a weekend writing marathon.
From the start our radiant keynote speaker, Gail Straub from New York, called us to our task with a spirited talk and an innovative workshop. Author of the award-winning memoir, Returning to My Mother’s House: Taking Back the Wisdom of the Feminine, she told of her journey in writing the book. Her original publishing contract was to write a self-help book about her decision not to have children. But she hit a block, sensing the presence of her mother who had died prematurely when Straub was in her early twenties.
Following up the next morning, Straub’s workshop on the intersection of fact and imagination was stunningly incisive as she directed us to cut through left-brain dominance to a new way of knowing. It’s almost giddy how easy it is to access right brain and create a new sense of the same experience. Yet we seldom use this powerful combination of symbol and fact, emotion and intellect—all part of the treasures Straub found in her mother’s house.
Within the Story Circle context of non-competitive discovery, I even enjoyed facilitating my own workshop, “Pearls of Wisdom: Memoirs about Mother.”
I felt more like a participant than a presenter as we explored the common threads of mother wisdom through personal stories. Some of those quick pieces were stunning in haunting imagery, the brilliance of feminine wisdom.
Back in Northern California today, I sense the ongoing work of my fellow women writers, the sound of their voices, the impact of what they know.
Kate Farrell, Founder
Wisdom Has a Voice Project