A Message from the President: July 2013

I just finished a four-week online with conference calls writing workshop for stroke survivors. For some survivors it was the first time they had communicated, let alone write, about their feelings about what happened, what they experienced, what they expected. For others, while they may have ‘let it all out’ earlier, it was an opportunity to learn to use expressive writing techniques to organize and share personal reflections on their recovery.

I got to know other survivors spread across the states. And will get to know others. There were three day/time option tracks; I chose the one that was best for me. Eventually the three will be linked as the last one finishes.

There was no difference in workshop content for the three tracks other than the schedule. Each week two themes were presented with several suggested topics to write about. As we finished, we posted them on a dedicated page of a website to read and comment. Similar frustrations were the norm, even though we ran the gamut from mild residual disabilities to wheelchair-bound, recent to long-term.

The workshops were made possible by American Heart Association’s off-shoot American Stroke Association’s quarterly magazine, Stroke Connection. Debi McGill, the editor of the magazine, was in charge of the nuts-and-bolts of connecting us. It was facilitated/coached by Carol Keegan, a forty-year survivor, who had the idea of developing an expressive writing group composed of stroke survivors. In her own recovery, she had relied on deep reflective writing practices like journaling and legacy letters to help her make sense of how stroke had changed her life. She had found the simple process of finding words to convey her fears and resentments allayed her need to make sense of the experience. When she sat down to write, the paper answered her nagging questions about “Why,” and “How,” and even, “What if.” The more she wrote, the more inner resources bubbled up.
So she decided that her 40th anniversary celebration would focus on finding ways to share expressive writing techniques with other survivors. She decided to develop a writing workshop that would support them through the process of harvesting their individual experiences of recovering from stroke. By sharing their writing with each other during the workshop, they could find a greater appreciation of their own coping skills and more confidence in their capacity to rebuild their lives.

We were the first to use technology to link wide-spread survivors together (the first had been with her local stroke support group).

So…that’s how I started my summer with new hopes for a writing life, getting that needed ‘kick-in-the-ass’ to my in-work-but-stalled “Life without Clots.” Hope you had a great start to your summer.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President

A Message From the President: May, 2013

This is one great month for inspiring the written word. After all, who has NEVER written a poem about their mother as part of a class project? So…with that lead in, I am off on another of my Almost World Famous columns.

Contrary to the naysayers, Mother’s Day was not an invention of the card and candy industries, though it didn’t take them long to get their pinkies in the candy bowl. Credited to Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day (on the second Sunday in May) is an American invention. Worldwide, there are festivals and holidays honoring mothers occurring anywhere, with the majority from March to May, but it is the singularly possessive form that we celebrate, honoring each and every mother.

Ms. Jarvis was successful in having Mother’s Day recognized as an official holiday when President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill in 1914. The initial celebration centered on church, family and letter writing. However, as quick as the ‘20s she was disillusioned by the commercialization.

It is one of the few American holidays not based on an event, and not rolled into a three-day event, much to the chagrin of workers everywhere. Would you sign the petition?

It has become fodder for quotes and poems. And school assignments!

One stood out for me:

“I wrote this for my mom. I have been a jerk to her and lazy around the house.
I LOVE YOU MOM!!!”

Mom’s Special Day

Mom today’s your special day,
And you need to take a rest.
I’ll do everything for you,
To make it the best.

Mom you’re sweet
And you mean the world to me.
You do every little thing
Cheerfully.

You’re too loving and kind,
To do so much work.
I’ll always help out
Instead of being a jerk.

    With that, I will leave you to your writing. This month Writers Forum is featuring pieces around the theme of “mothers”. Keep in mind that Father’s Day is just around the bend (or maybe “fold of the calendar” is more apropos) and Writers Forum will be featuring pieces around the theme of “fathers”, so please submit your pieces to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.

Larry Watters
Writers Forum President

A Message From the President: April, 2013

I was drawing a blank for ideas for this month. Then I looked at the calendar. April? April! What better than a selection of literary hoaxes in honor of April Fool’s Day? So with a guffaw or two, here goes.

In 1903, a document called the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was published in Russia, outlining a plot by the Jewish people to take over the world. Throughout the subsequent decades, the document was used to justify violence against Jews, even after it was discovered to be a hoax in 1921. Henry Ford famously referred to the document in his anti-Semitic newspaper in the 1920s.

Part of the popularity of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code came from the possibility that much of the novel was based on truth. At the beginning of the novel, Brown lays out a number of “facts” upon which the book is based. Many sources, however, contend that some of Brown’s facts are actually based on a hoax. The Priory of Sion, the secret society in Brown’s book, was actually invented in the 1950’s, the debunkers say, by Pierre Plantard. Plantard created false documents that connected him to the supposed illustrious secret society and then planted those documents in the French national library. The authors of the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail used the documents as part of the research for their book; Dan Brown based his research for The Da Vinci Code on Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

After Davy Crockett died in 1836, a supposed posthumous autobiography was published, entitled “Col. Crockett’s Exploits and Adventures in Texas, Written by Himself.” Turns out it was actually written by playwright and novelist Richard Penn Smith, who wrote it in under 24 hours.

In 2008, “Margaret B. Jones” published a book called Love and Consequences, a supposed memoir of her life as a poor, half-Native American foster child in LA. The New York Times exposed that Margaret B. Jones was actually Margaret Seltzer, a wealthy white woman who grew up with her biological family. “I thought it was my opportunity to put a voice to the people who people don’t listen to,” she said. Publisher Riverhead pulled all of her books the week after publication.

In 1970, author Clifford Irving proposed an autobiography of the reclusive Howard Hughes to McGraw-Hill, saying that he was in contact with Hughes. Irving proceeded to forge letters and fake interviews, thinking that Hughes would not speak up. Finally, in 1972, before the book was published, Hughes denounced Irving, who was found guilty of fraud.

In 1983, the German magazine Stern bought and published a story on what they claimed were Hitler’s diaries. Not wanting the story to leak, Stern did not have World War II experts examine the documents, though they made it past two historians. The diaries were exposed as fake shortly after going public and both the editor who procured them and the forger spent 42 months in prison.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President

A Message From the President: March, 2013

I hope everybody has cleared their weekend for the special off-site Writers Forum Meeting featuring Keith Raffel at Shasta College Saturday, the 9th of March. This is another in a line of programs that we are sure makes it worthwhile to be a member.

But enough on that; the March Writers Forum newsletter & this site have plenty of him and this event.

I’ve been thinking about motivation and writing. Sometimes I have a lot of topics/ideas running through this old head; then there are the days that the well runs dry (and most times I never remember the better ideas). I have nothing but admiration for those journalists that meet deadlines on a daily basis. Scott Mobley of the Record Searchlight was one of those. Among his duties was to write the normally dull weather forecasting/recapping articles. With a MFA in Writing under his belt, he’d inevitably make them exciting.  I miss his style. Heck, even the boring (but exciting in person) antics at City Hall meetings were a joy to read. Some peeps got it, some don’t.

We have officer elections coming up. Normally they are held at the March meeting, but since that meeting will be attended by many, many non-members (note my positive attitude) it was decided to postpone the elections to April. We should have a full slate to present, but if any lurkers are thinking about getting involved, please contact me.

Oh, and start planning/writing for the June Members Read Around. It’s never too early to start sorting through those words you’ve penned and fine tune them.

See ya.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President

A Message from the President: January, 2013

As I watch the snow drift down, I am ‘trying’ to compose my January Message from the President. I really want to keep it simple and light. Ah, thought I; Seasonal Parodies. Why not?

So, staying under the plagiarism radar (though I think it could be labeled outright stealing), here are some.

For the social media peeps:

On the 12th day of Christmas my Facebook gave to me:
12 dopes I’m blocking
11 friends just watching
10 corny topics
9 busted barbies
8 friends complaining
7 stalkers stalking
6 party invites
5 drama queens
4 game requests
3 photo tags
2 friends-a-pokin’
& a creep who won’t stop in-boxing me.

For Star Trek Groupies (Chestnuts Roasting, yadda yadda):

Klingons roasting on an open fire,
Scotty’s beaming up some gifts.
Yuletide carols being sung by Uhura,
The Enterprise, it slowly drifts.
Everybody knows that Chekov really likes eggnog,
Spock prefers some Vulcan Tea.
Sulu takes a break from the helm to
Put milk & cookies by the tree.

You know that McCoy’s a doctor,
He’s not Santa Claus or even a redshirt.
And every single crewman will make their case
To prove if Santa really can breathe in space.

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To Captain Kirk and all his crew,
Although it’s been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you!

And it would not be complete without Pogo’s Deck the Halls version (thanks to Walt Kelly):

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,

Walla Walla, Wash, and Kalamazoo!

Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,

Swaller dollar cauliflower Alleygaroo!

Don’t we know archaic barrel,

Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou.

Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,

Boola Boola Pensacoola Hullabaloo!

And finally for those that don’t like winter, yet complain during the summer, there is (Let it Snow):

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
and I hope it cools by nightfall
how I hate this warm weather so
summer blows
summer blows
summer blows

The mercury just ain’t stoppin’
but I wish that it was droppin’
how I hate the sun’s fiery glow
summer blows
summer blows
summer blows

Then it finally turns to night
when its late, things are not quite as warm
but then when the sky grows light
it will get hot, true to form

Perspirin’ but not dryin’
as I sweat, I think I’m dyin’
and I wish that the temps were low
summer blows
summer blows
summer blows

Whew! Done! See ya January 12th for another fabulous meeting as Charlie, Linda, Robb and Jim return as short story panelists.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President