Finding Your Tribe

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Have You Found Your Tribe?

Part of the human experience is the need to be loved, feel safe, and be accepted.  Everyone wants to find their tribe. I’ve searched in many places, some good, and some, not so good. But I’m only going to focus on the good today. You can out find more about my quest in my memoir – Manifesting Me.

Writer’s Retreat

In the beginning of November I had the pleasure of attending She Writes/Spark Press/She Reads Author Retreat in the lovely Boulders Resort in Arizona.

I had never gone to any sort of retreat in my life.  I can’t express how deeply this retreat has opened and filled my heart.

Writers are an interesting breed. Most of them are introverts, unlike myself.  My energy can be too much for the introverted person, therefor, I reeled in my energy. Listening more than talking, was my goal.  I thoroughly enjoy hearing other people’s stories and processes; not to mention the speakers that were featured.

Speakers At The Retreat

We learned from Ingram Publishing Services how distribution works. We had publicists from different companies share what to expect when starting a publicity campaign. A VP of Publisher Weekly magazine spoke of what their services do, and their contribution to book industry. BookBub had a representative informing us how to utilize their website for users and authors. The owner of the Poisoned Pen gave hope to any bookstore owner.  The CEO of SparkPoint Studio, Crystal Patriarche, along side with Brooke Warner from She Writes Press, welcomed us and got the retreat started. Last but definitely not least, was our keynote speaker, Jesmyn Ward, an award winning and best selling author.

An Emotional Speech

Absorbing all of the information was intense, but in a very positive way. I never thought of a writing retreat as an emotional event before. Jesmyn’s speech during our dinner, was reiterating people’s need for acceptance and to live in a safe world. Isn’t that what everyone wants? To live in a safe world to be the best you can be?

She talked about her experience as a black woman, once she found out she was pregnant each time.  Jesmyn spoke of the fears of motherhood and how her family history played a role.

As a white woman,  growing up in a lower income area of Oakland, CA in 70’s and 80’s, I could relate to the “wanting to feel safe” part.  My situation was centered in one place. Her fear followed her. Everyone wants to feel safe.

Authenticity

Many authors can write, but are not always the best at public speaking. Jesmyn’s speech was brilliant. You could feel her authenticity, which I believe is what holds the attention of the audience.

I had never been in a writer’s workshop. Jesmyn led one which helped me understand, I am intuitive writer. She gave tips and exercises for better writing.  They may have seemed simple for the educated writer, but for a novice like myself, I found it very useful.

My New Tribe

The best part of the retreat was meeting and making life long connections with other authors.  No one could possibly understand what it was like having such a supportive group of woman.  I went out of my comfort zone and deliberately met new people. Their interest in each other and in me was genuine and sincere. And vice versa. We have a secret online community, but I was a little shy on asking for help from strangers.

Everyone became like one big family by the end of the retreat. I don’t ever remember being in a group with that many people and feeling infinitely supported and connected. I have successfully found my tribe.

“Ultimately, we actually all belong to only one tribe, to Earthlings.”

~ Jill Tarter

Emotions In The Process of Memoir Writing

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Emotions

Today I listened to Spring Forward Your Writing webinar with the speakers being Mark Nepo, Dani Shapiro, Linda Joy Meyers, and Brooke Warner. Each speaker had their unique way of addressing their emotions and process of memoir writing. I found myself with tears filling my eyes while listening.

I wasn’t quite sure where or why these emotions popped up. Questioning, if this was a normal experience, it was suggested that the answer could be found through journaling.

My answer was found in my journaling. We had a writing exercise with these topics: My suffering comes from… My joy comes from…. My work going forward is, what do they have to do with each other?  After writing, it was no wonder why I was emotional.

The one thing that stood out to me, was when Mark Nepo said, “Don’t try to be important.” Our ego can get our emotions in a tizzy, if we let it.

Don’t Let Your Ego Rule

Mark’s advice resonated with me beyond measurable. I took the message as, “Don’t let your ego rule this experience.” I know it is due to the fact that my memoir, Manifesting Me, is going to be public next month.  Once something is in writing, there is no turning back. Sometimes my ego chatter gets the best of me.  I feel extremely vulnerable and possibly exposed, leaving me anxious.

Your ego has a way of feeding your brain every negative thought; from the “what if’s?” and the “who do you think you are’s?” Thank God, I am not always listening to it. I find focusing on writing, gets me connect with my spirit side. I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again, live life from love. It produces a more desirable outcome.

Love, Compassion, and Encouragement

Panic and anxiety weren’t the only emotions I experienced. I felt deep love, compassion, and encouragement energy from all of the speakers; which also, brought me tears of joys.  It was a gift to hear how much we are alike, from our fears to our desires to get our stories out into the world. And mostly to make a difference, by being of service.

Multiple Memoirs, Multiple Emotions

Dani addressed the issue of multiple memoirs. She has many memoirs and never thought she’d ever have one after being a novelist. A memoir only tells a moment in your life, not your autobiography. So it’s likely you’ll have more than one story which will likely lead to another set of emotions.

She also mentioned the fact that most memoirists didn’t have the best childhood. Although, some memoirs are about travel and have nothing to do with a tragic upbringing. Regardless of what your story is, or how many others may have the same story, they will never be exactly the same. You want your audience to feel your experiences as if it’s their own. Dani said, “They aren’t reading your memoir because of you, they’re reading your memoir, because of them.”

Don’t Make It About You

The biggest mistake you can make being a memoir author is making it about you. I know that sounds hypocritical in the fact that, a memoir is about you and your story. What memoir is really about, is inspiring others through your journey and letting others know they are not alone.  Sometimes it’s an emotional journey or an adventurous journey, but it’s something that will stir emotions in the reader.

It’s your story they are interested in not you which is one of the biggest compliment of all.  If I can reach one person, I’m sure I’ll be emotional over that, too. I guess all and all, memoir can be very emotional and raw. It’s okay to be sensitive, and it’s very normal, when writing or reading a memoir. It means the writer has touched you and has made an emotional connection. Isn’t that what good writing does?

My Emotions When Writing

It takes courage to write your story. Taking risks feels uncomfortable, but it’s well worth it. Be fierce like the lion. Face your fears and feel the power in it. Nothing is better than overcoming fear or  challenging yourself .

My emotions have been all over the place when I’m writing. Sometimes I’m laughing. Sometimes I get angry, other times I’m in tears of great sadness or joy, and other times, melancholy. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between reality or fantasy. In turn writing a memoir is as if you’re reliving your experience. That’s why it’s so emotional! What emotions will your story evoke? Would you be willing to share your story? Or is it too emotional?

“Rational thoughts never drive people’s creativity the way emotions do.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson