Friday Freewrite

friday-freewrite

Join Writers Forum member Jennifer Phelps for a quick Friday Freewrite over on her website.

1 jump line.

90 seconds to write.

Ready, set, go!

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May Meeting with Claudia Mosby by Larry Watters

On May 11, those who attended the General Meeting were treated to an awesome workshop by Claudia Mosby. Mosby is a freelance writer, has a bi-weekly column on midlife in the Record Searchlight, and has a gig for a once a month national yearlong series on mental health that is carried locally. And she still has the energy to be an adjunct faculty member in the Communications Department at Shasta College.

claudia gesturing

Where does she get that energy, you ask? By practicing what she preaches; er, facilitates. We participated in a shortened version of Mosby’s highly successful workshops on Writing for Wellness that focus on using expressive narrative writing.

I resort to writing for delving deeper into what (or sometimes who) is bugging me.  I make a lot of discoveries. But occasionally I find that it is nothing more than putting words on paper, and revelations about me don’t surface. But during Mosby’s writing exercises that started with the typical “What’s on Your Mind” scenario, we were advised to reconsider the event or experience we had wrote about, paying particular attention to:

  • the characters
  • the setting
  • the event itself
  • the consequences
  • the meaning

Then we were told to change perspectives. For this First Person junkie, that meant writing in the Third Person.

Wowzer! Blurting out loud, “Powerful,” while still writing, I found that my normal kind words and no-negative-thoughts had transgressed to a critical role. And in the Third Person, it was not me that was beating me up, but that paid observer who was being truthfully honest.

While others discussed their insights and feelings as the result of the perspective shift, I sat in awe of what had just transpired in my head; my outburst seemed to cover it all. The workshop moved on to a third rewrite, using as many positive emotion words as seemed realistic. Meanwhile I sat there. And sat there. And sat there.

Ok, I admit that I did not participate in the latter sessions that included using positive words as they might naturally bubble up and occur in the narrative. Nor did I experiment with context and voice by writing the narrative as someone either outside the experience or with a very different perspective.

But I have the opportunity to participate in her community classes & workshops that will be offered in the next several months. In July, a Memoir & Legacy will be hosted at Pilgrim Church. In September Mosby will lead a full blown, non-abridged Writing toward Wellness Workshop and October brings a Spiritual Autobiography class.  More information can be found at www.writinginsideout.org, or writing c/o PO Box 492081 Redding, CA 96049-2081, or calling 355-6827. Writing Inside Out can also be found on Facebook in the Pages as WritingInsideOut.

Member Monday: Lanyero Mama by Alicia McCauley

Welcome back to Member Monday.  To conclude our series on mothers, member Alicia McCauley shares with you a piece of her story of how she, the most unlikely of all, became a mother.

Author’s Note: I’ve never felt the call to be a mother.  I believe it’s the highest calling a woman can have and it’s never been one placed on my heart.  In June, 2012 I spent a month in Gulu, Uganda where I had the privelege of writing with students at Restore Leadership Academy.  Little did I know, my sons were waiting for me in Africa.  Now I’m the proud mom of three Ugandan boys who claimed me as their mother.  As Mother’s Day approaches, my heart is torn because my sons are so far away, but also full because I will see them so very soon.  This is the story of how my Ugandan son, Martin, gave me my African name.

Lanyero Mama

by Alicia McCauley

“Mum, ask me a question.”  Martin doodles on his notebook.  We are seated side by side, so close that our hips touch.

“Let me think of one.”

“You always ask me challenging questions that make me think.”  He smiles at me, pausing in his drawing.

“I’m sorry, son, I can’t think of one today.  My brain is too sad to think of a question.”

“My brain is sad, too, Mum.”

“I’m going to miss you.”

“Me, too, but African men don’t cry.  When we’re sad we just feel out of place.”

“That makes sense to me.  I feel out of place, but I’ll probably cry a little tomorrow when I leave.”

“Don’t cry, Mum.”

“I might.  But I did think of a question.”

“What is it?”

“My question is ‘What have you been thinking about today?’.”

“What have you been thinking about today?”  Martin bats the question back to me with a familiar twinkle in his eye.

“I asked you first.  So you have to answer first.”  I nudge him with my elbow.

“Give me another question.”

“Okay, how about this.  My boda driver asked me if any of the students had given me an Acholi name yet.  I told him no.  He said I should be named Aber Alicia because ‘aber’ means good and he says I’m good to everyone.  Do you think that’s a good name for me?”

“No, it’s no good.  Your name is Lanyero.  Lanyero Alicia is what you should be called.”

“What does it mean?”

“Lanyero means peaceful, joyous, happy.  It also means comforter.”  He meets my eyes and mine well up with tears.  He looks down at his sketches.

“I love it.  Did you know that Alicia means ‘truthful one’?”

“No, I didn’t know it.”

“So Lanyero Alicia means ‘one who takes joy or comfort in telling the truth’.”

“Mum, I’m really going to miss you.”

“Me, too.  I feel like my heart is in my throat.”

Martin shoots me a puzzled look.

“That means I’m really sad.  I’m having a hard time swallowing my sadness back down.”

“You’ve taught me something new, Mum.  My heart is on my throat, too.”

I feel a smile slip through my lips as I picture his heart on his throat.

“You can cry if you want to, Mum.  African women cry very loudly.”

“I’m not African, Martin.”

“Yes, you are.  I just named you so.  Lanyero Alicia.  But I won’t call you that.”

“You won’t?  Why not?”

“I’ll call you Lanyero Mama.”

“That’s my favorite name.”  I put my arm around him and squeeze this boy who named me, this son who has claimed me as his unlikely mother.

Alicia and her son, Martin

Alicia and her son, Martin

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Mother of the Bride by Janice Austin Bates

Janice-Bates_150Welcome back to Member Monday!  It’s a pleasure to continue our series on mothers by featuring first time contributor and Writers Forum member Janice Austin Bates.  

Mother of the Bride

by Janice Austin Bates

Yesterday my infant lay upon my arm and slept.
Today I realized she was gone, and silently I wept.

Yesterday she drooled and cooed as she crawled ‘round the floor.
Today I knew that I would never see that anymore.

Yesterday she laughed and played with children on our street.
Today, her place at the table bare, I couldn’t even eat.

Yesterday her piano playing drove me up the wall.
Today the silence deafened me so, I couldn’t hear at all.

Yesterday when she was sick, I tired playing nurse.
Today I cannot play that role, and I feel so much worse.

Yesterday I worried as she went out on her first date.
Today I’d love to sit and watch for her to come home late.

Yesterday she graduated high school with straight “A”s.
Today I browsed her yearbook, and my mind was in a haze.

Yesterday she said she’d met the boy of her dreams.
Today I can’t believe how very long ago that seems.

Yesterday she showed her ring, and said that she would marry.
Today the thought of losing her is oh so very scary.

Today her father walked her down the aisle, and gave her away.
I lost my child as she became a lovely woman today.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Young Writers Contest Call for Submissions

Writers Forum and Enjoy Magazine are pleased to partner together to publish young writers, artists and graphic designers.

Writers Forum and Enjoy Magazine announce a Call for Submissions for students in grades k-12. The theme is “A Lesson Learned.” Students are encouraged to submit an essay (150-300 words) or one piece of artwork based on this theme. One essay and one piece of artwork will be featured in the September issue of Enjoy Magazine. The winner and runners-up will be featured on the Writers Forum website/newsletter, and the Enjoy Magazine website. One high school student with an interest in graphic design will be chosen to work with the editor of Enjoy Magazine to design the layout of the page. Winners and runners-up will be notified via email.

Submission Guidelines:

1. The student must submit an application, a photograph of the student and one original essay (150-300 words) or original piece of artwork (painting, drawing or photograph) that exemplifies the theme “A Lesson Learned.”

2. Kindergarten-3rd grade students may submit handwritten or typed essays. 4th-12th grade students must submit typed essays.

3. Essay submissions and applications must be attached to an email and sent to Writers Forum at reddingwritersforum@gmail.com.

4. Art submissions and applications must be attached to an email and sent to Enjoy Magazine at ronda@enjoymagazine.net.

5. High school students interested in designing the featured page must submit an application and a photograph of the student to Enjoy Magazine at ronda@enjoymagazine.net.

6. All applications and submissions must be received by June 1, 2013.

7. Students under the age of 18 must include a parent/guardian signature on the application.

Writers Forum members, please pass this along to educators and children in your life. We simply can’t wait to help children celebrate their love of the written word by publishing their original pieces!

Writers Forum members interested in helping read and select the winning piece should contact Writers Forum Director at Large, Alicia McCauley at writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.