Category Archives: A Place For Writers To Share

Welcome sisters and brothers in words. Here is a place for inspiration and sharing. I invite you to find haven here. yrs. Laura

Haven Winter # 8

What is inspiring you?  I hope that you can ask, in the dormancy of winter:  what would happen if I took a stand for myself?

This is the eighth in a series of guest posts:   For the last few winters, I’ve offered up my blog as a place for writers to share. I believe in generosity.  I also know how important it is for writers to write.  To that end, I’ve spent a few weeks posting the alive and brave words that people who have come to a Haven retreat are willing to share.  Read these words.  Consider this experience.  Play around in curiosity and wonder.  I hope that my blog will honor all of us who sit in the intersection of heart and mind and craft that is writing.

That’s what I’m doing.  Quietly.  For these weeks.  Please think about taking this time for your heart language.

 

My Tubac, by Gwen Vogelzang

The tears stunned me.  Not just a drop from my baby blues down to the crisp clean page.  Sobbing, body quivering tears in a bathroom stall, coming from the innards of my gut and my exposed heart.  My totally exposed and shockingly vulnerable heart.  I expected pretty tears and profound revelations to rock me during my Haven Retreat.  Revelations of what I was capable of, what others could do to inspire my writing, what 5 days of fabulous food, wine and childless sleeping could do for my soul.

Those revelations were handed to me.  Just not on the sparkly silver tray I expected them to be delivered on.  They were more like gentle but deliberate jabs to the gut.  Along with the tears came this foreign fear about what might lie ahead if I indeed followed the journey I was telling myself I was being called to follow. I was about to quit my cushy job and move into full time writing.  It was a calling I couldn’t ignore.  I had books in mind – too many projects to even begin to summarize in a logical train of thought.  I was filled with exuberance and peace about my future as a writer.

What I know now is my sobbing at The Haven was brought on by unexpected fear.  Fear about the relentless passion I had for my subject.  Fear about the vulnerability that would naturally come with my journey.  Fear about the process.  At one point I seceded to my fear. My mind gave up and my heart was terrified to argue. Until I entered Laura’s morning session and was gifted with that silver tray, containing my truth.  The fear and the bathroom stall sobbing was my heart language.  It was the fuel that will ignite my career.  It’ll set my words ablaze.  The Haven gifted me with that treasure.  This aint gonna be a joy ride but it’s my calling.  My heart language.  My future.  The Haven and the graceful guidance of Laura Munson was the entry point to my soul getting on board.

Haven, by Joanne Burch

Haven Writer’s Retreat, what could it be?

A total surprise! Something I had not imagined.

From the first day, we were a group of friends, saying what we felt and feeling what we said. Laughing, joking, writing, cheering one another on when the written was read aloud. Two young mothers, friends and professed opposites – one organized and one not. Two grandmas/great-grandmas in their 70s with views from the past. And in between, two more ladies and one lone man, who was capable enough to withstand, and jokingly get the best of, all us women. All from a variety of backgrounds: rancher to city dwellers adding their viewpoints to the stew.

What had I imagined? Hmmm. A Teacher sitting up there telling us how to write, using a boring professorial voice.

Reality 1: Laura was one of the gang, a friend, laughing, cheering us on, offering her “immediate” writings to the prompt for us to judge. Laura answered all questions when asked: “How do you publish? How do you…? What is the best way…?”

Reality 2: Inspiring prompts written by the class members – added to prompts relying on three abstract words: fish, black, half. Fun to write and hear the responses. Other prompts were provided for those moments when we had more time to think and formulate an answer. Each night we could sign up to read and receive input to some longer writing project.

My imagination: Retreat? Will that mean a lot of psychological talk about finding the inner-me? I am a great grandmother. I found the inner-me long ago.  If I had not, I would have withered and died by now.

Reality 1: A few comments about strength of character – as it came up to each of us. Not a “Tell me now.” Just an open and free chance for each to mention something if we wanted to. A totally enjoyable reunion with old friends that I had just met.

Reality 2:  Facing the fact that I do have time to write. 

Check out Laura’s upcoming retreats,some may be near to your town.  Make a point of attending. It is well worth it.

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Haven Winter # 7

What is inspiring you?  I hope that you can ask, in the dormancy of winter:  what would happen if I took a stand for myself?

This is the seventh in a series of guest posts:   For the last few winters, I’ve offered up my blog as a place for writers to share. I believe in generosity.  I also know how important it is for writers to write.  To that end, I’ve spent a few weeks posting the alive and brave words that people who have come to a Haven retreat are willing to share.  Read these words.  Consider this experience.  Play around in curiosity and wonder.  I hope that my blog will honor all of us who sit in the intersection of heart and mind and craft that is writing.

That’s what I’m doing.  Quietly.  For these weeks.  Please think about taking this time for your heart language.

Haven by Maria Rodgers O’Rourke

Here’s the story of when I lugged a stack of notebooks across the country in the dead of winter, headed to Whitefish, Montana and the Haven Retreat.

I brought two of them (black and white composition books) to our first writing session. Like a kid at a new school, I hugged them tightly and tried to look confident. I left a Smash journal, filled with artsy-decorated blank pages, in my room. The cheap notebooks were for my first drafts, I thought: I’ll transfer my edited versions to the Smash later.

In our writing sessions, Laura welcomed us and our stories with open arms. My body relaxed into the daily writing routine, healthy meals, comfortable rooms, and the snow-covered grounds. My creative self snuggled into this haven space and took some risks. One afternoon, our yoga teacher asked, “So how’s it going?” and patiently waited for our response. The room held a small group of us, strangers just days before, and I felt safe. My heart in my throat, I blurted out that my golden retriever was dying, and sobbed. We cried and shared our stories of loss, lifting the grief that I dragged from home like so many notebooks.

With such healing going on, by the third day my writing sessions were producing real gems. Rough and honest, the drafts revealed my voice, stretching out like a bird opening its wings. That day I added the as-yet-unused Smash journal to my stack. After breakfast, we settled into our meeting room, which was awash in Montana winter sunshine, each window a postcard of evergreens on snowy hillsides. Sipping her tea, a fellow Haven-er noticed my notebooks. I explained about drafts and revisions and critiques, but my words trailed off as these once-hidden thoughts came into the light. I felt silly, but she smiled and said, “So, your first drafts aren’t worthy of the pretty pages?”

She nailed it. Turns out I only needed one notebook. The first draft is where the inner critic succeeds in dismissing a clever idea, or discouraging the hopeful writer, or quieting a fledging voice. To get out of our own way and get that first draft on paper is a victory. And they are worthy of pretty pages. All my Haven Retreat first drafts, clippings, and photos are secure in the Smash journal. When my creative self needs it, I flip through the pages and feel Laura’s embrace. At Haven, every first draft is beautiful.

Haven by Stephanie Maley

Writing was something I did for myself. Pages of self discovery, life experiences, and dreams, splattered flimsy journals. Now as a professional photographer, I knew I needed writing direction. Laura Munson’s words spoke to me in a personal way. After reading her book, “This Is Not The Story you Think It Is,” I felt connected. I knew I could learn from her. When she offered a writing retreat, I leapt at the chance to attend.

Short on trust and long on self doubt, I journeyed my way to Montana. Being at Haven was like bathing in warm light. From Laura’s squealing delight at meeting me, her faithful blog follower, until I boarded my plane for home, I felt loved and accepted. The attentive staff, vegan meals, snuggly down beds, and daily “love” mail from Laura, wrapped around me like a moth’s cocoon.

I took risks in this Haven. I shared secrets. Dressed in PJ’s, surrounded by my fellow retreatents and a hearty fire, I opened the pages of my heart. Words poured forth and bounced back with objective suggestions. Each of us reaching out to one another. My love of the power of words deepened. Story after story filled the smokey air. Raw, flesh- tearing, and humorous words kept us riveted.

Our group marches forward, together. We share our writings and seek advice from one another. Our private Facebook page keeps our connections strong. Some of us have been able to see each other beyond Montana. We cheer from the sidelines for each other and keep the Haven spirit alive. When my own writing progress stutters, I am reminded that I am still loved and accepted.

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To Teach

dove

bird on a wire in the desert

My next Haven Retreat is a rare event in Boston after the MA Conference for Women. If you seek a deeper relationship with your creative self-expression…come!  Here’s the info.

I had a personal day today. I wrote. I rode a bike around Tubac, Arizona where I just lead a Haven retreat. I took photographs. I looked at light and breathed deep. Here’s something that came in on the desert wind:

TO TEACH

To teach is to listen for heart language
And to let people know that they have a pulse.
Or to remind them.
Sometimes to convince them.

To teach is to aid and abet the vivid “yes”
And the vivid “no”
And to call the troops off the battlefield
At least for the observance of Sunday supper.

To teach is to see past windows of eyes
Into souls
And be a curator with hands behind you
Not touching the painting
But seeing its meaning
Feeling the waves of the oil-brushed tempest against the dinghy
Smelling the salt air
And the breath of the painter
Knowing, if you were to point,
Exactly where her tear dropped
Into that salt sea.

To teach is to push a cart up a steep hill.
And have a line of people who believe in your brawn and compass.
And feet’s familiarity with the ground.
And to have people fall out of line.
Stray.
Turn back.
Come in front of you and push against the cart.
Until you show them a better place to push.

You say, “Thank you.”  

You feel a wordless joy.

And you weep a little.
But only inside.

You have a cart to push.
And you are tired.
And your muscles are in question.
And your sense of direction.
And you can never remember on which hilltop stands:
The Bo Tree
Golgotha
That mount.

You are a student.
You know where it is.
You just need reminding.

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Haven August 2013

portrait

2014 (Now Booking!)

February 26- March 2
June 18-22
September 10-14
September 24-28
October 8-12
October 22-26

When this Haven group left, there were tears, new friendships; there was transformation, fierce self-expression, and most of all community.  We need community, especially in our creative pursuits.  I want you to look at these pictures.  I want you to imagine giving yourself your dreams, despite what your inner critic says, or your friends and family for that matter.  Take a stand for what you believe in.  What you want.  What you want to create!  And if that sparks a desire to come to Haven…DO IT FOR YOURSELF!  In the minute of the spark…is the flame.  Come burn.  yrs. Laura

Here’s what a few of my last retreaters wrote about their Haven experience.

Click here  and here and here.

Yes

It could happen any time, tornado, earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen. Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could you know. That’s why we wake and look out–no guarantees in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning, like right now, like noon, like evening.

–William Stafford

(with thanks to Lorrie…and all the  Haven brave and beautiful souls.  Thank you for your enormous YES!)  This is for you.

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Inspiration Ain’t for Sissies!

Come with me on an adventure of a lifetime!

Haven Retreats in Montana: email me:  laura@lauramunsonauthor.com
August 7th-11th (just a few spots left)
September 4th-8th (now booking)
September 18th-22nd (now booking)

What inspires you?  I bet you can make a long list.  I know I can.  At the top I’d put things like:  My kids, Montana, horses, really great writing, people who sing and play music, people who can speak more than one language, really great home-made bread.  Try it.  It’s a nice exercise, much like keeping a gratitude journal.  I have a friend who daily keeps a gratitude journal.  Just lists the things she’s grateful for—no qualifying or comparing or justifying.  Just wide-open THANKS!  In fact, add her to the list of things that inspire me:  people who keep gratitude journals.

But what most of us don’t think about or even realize…is that we actually, quite possibly, have inspired someone elseNah…we scoff and sniff.  Me?  Inspire somebody?  That’s the way I fly, at least— in a pinch, I go into self-degradation.  Even when someone tells me flat out that I have inspired them, my brain resists it.  It’s something I wrote that inspired them.  It’s my Haven retreats that inspired them.  Not me.  It’s like when people compliment me on my kids’ achievements.  “It’s not me,” I always say.  “It’s them!”  But I’d like to give you a personal challenge here.  Think of the things that you have created in your life.  I’m not asking your ego to explode, I’m merely trying to help you claim what is yours so you can make more of it to spread around.  Think of the traditions you have started or carried on.  The things that you have started from scratch, whatever they might be:  cookies, a fund drive, chicken soup, a letter to a loved one, a thoughtful gift, a verbal vote of confidence to someone you believe in, the way you put flowers in the windowsill or the fact that you picked up trash on the street when no one was looking.  Well, take heart.  People notice your good efforts and are, indeed, inspired by them, whether or not you meant them to be inspiring.  You are not invisible.  Your heart language speaks fluently in the country of humanity. 

There is a writer named Bill Kenower who I met through the labyrinth of the writing life.  He is a brother in words and heart and has compiled a collection of essays about writing that yes, INSPIRE me.  Here’s his story.  As you read it, I encourage you to ask yourself, “What can I create that will inspire others?”  Because just by doing what you are already doing, just by being who you are already being…you are helping to make the world a better place.  So take in a deep breath, and give yourself permission to be inspiring.

Yrs.

Laura

Share Alike, by Bill Kenower

I have just published a collection of short essays called Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion, and you could say the book might not exist were it not for Laura Munson. The story of how Laura and I met is a story of social media. There I was on Facebook one afternoon when I noticed someone had posted a piece from the New York Times. I rarely read such things when they’re shared on Facebook, but for some reason I decided to read this one.

When I finished this essay about a woman in Montana who used her years of accumulated wisdom from the experience of writing and being rejected and writing and being rejected to weather a marital storm, I thought, “She’s one of my people.” I am editor-in-chief of Author, an online magazine that focuses on the intersection of creativity and spirituality. One of my primary functions is to conduct video and audio interviews with authors, and I knew immediately I should interview Laura.

It was a great interview, and Laura and I stayed on the phone after I had stopped recording and continued talking about suffering and happiness and doing the things you love. Yes, I thought again, she’s one of my people. Another of my functions at Author is to write a daily column – a blog if you must – which Laura stumbled on shortly after our conversation. I soon received an email from her that began with this sentence: “You inspire me!”

I did not understand until that moment that this was all I wanted to do in the world – inspire people. It was all I wanted because it was all I was searching for in the world itself, those songs, books, movies, stories, and people that inspired me, that turned my attention toward a steady voice that, despite any evidence to the contrary, forever said, “Do what you love. You cannot fail.” It was this voice that had guided me to Laura, the same as it had guided my to E. E. Cummings and Bob Dylan and Beethoven and the woman I married.

Laura and her story are inspiring, but there is something holy about being inspired that can compel one to deify those who do the inspiring. Growing up, I had no church or temple to attend, and so my sermons were stories, poems, and songs. It was there that I was reminded again and again why life was worth living, and why meaning always lay patiently beneath the noise of suffering. This seemed like a sacred job—reminding people why life was worth living—a job for which one must be anointed.

Which is exactly what Laura did, though accidentally. It’s silly, I know, but because she had inspired so many people, because her piece in the New York Times and her book had reached and helped so many souls, and because I had apparently inspired her—if only long enough to write that one sentence—and since she was one of my people and so not a deity, this job now seemed entirely doable.

A year later Laura was in Seattle and we met face-to-face for the first time. It was a bit like meeting a sister from which I had become separated at birth. She was full of excitement for writing and traveling and living, and over a bottle wine she told me, “Bill, you have to get paid for these essays.”

“But how?” I asked.

She laughed. “By publishing them in a book!”

“Oh, right,” I said.

So now they’re a book. Of course there were other people who helped as well, who said, “Bill, you really ought to collect these into a book,” which to me is the story of the inherent generosity of writing, writers, and life itself. Here is Laura now sharing this space with me, as she has shared it with you, her readers, these past months while she toils on her new novel. True generosity always teaches us the lie of sacrifice. If you share what you love and what you value – like a story, or wisdom, or a joke, or a kiss – nothing is sacrificed. Rather, you have increased the value of the world, which is only measurable in love. So share and share alike, you readers, you writers, you lovers. Share everything you wish there was more of, and as fast as you can say, “Thank you” there will be.

William Kenower is the author of Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion, and is the Editor-in-Chief of Author magazine, an online magazine for writers and dedicated readers. He writes a popular daily blog for the magazine about the intersection of writing and our daily lives, and has interviewed hundreds of writers of every genre. He also hosts the online radio program Author2Author where every week he and a different guest discuss the books we write and the lives we lead. To learn more about William, go to williamkenower.com.

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Creativity Can be your Lifeline

Come with me on an adventure of a lifetime!
Haven Retreats in Montana:
August 7th-11th (Now Booking)
September 4th-8th (Now Booking)
September 18th-22nd (Now Booking)

Thank you to Stacey Gualandi at The Women’s Eye!

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Mother’s Day Haven

Do you know a mom who needs a break?  Who longs desperately to dig deeper into her creativity?  Who always talks about how she wants to write but doesn’t have time, doesn’t know how to find “me” time, needs an adventure?  Are you one of them?  Are you spending time booking your kids for summer camp and internships right now?  What about you?  Who takes care of you?  Who says, “Mom, you know how you are always talking about writing that book, or how you used to love to write in school but you haven’t had time since?”  Unfortunately, most of us moms don’t have those champions.  We have to champion ourselves.

In the woods of Montana…there is a place for you.  I designed the retreat I needed and I hold them year round.  I am now booking for my summer and fall Haven retreats.  Come re-charge.  Be nurtured.  Supported.  Challenged.  And inspired.  All in the place that has been my muse for 20 years.  I want to share my Haven with you.  Please give yourself this gift.  If you don’t, who will.  YOU DESERVE IT!  Contact me at laura@lauramunsonauthor.com

yrs. Laura

August 7th-11th
September 4th-8th
September 18th-22nd


1.The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh
2.God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers. ~Jewish Proverb
3.“Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world.” -Kate Douglas Wiggin
4.“There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one” – Jill Churchill
5.Mother’s love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved.- Erich Fromm, psychologist
6.“A mother understands what a child does not say.” -Jewish proverb
7.”Woman knows what man has long forgotten, that the ultimate economic and spiritual unit of any civilization is still the family. -Clare Boothe Luce
8.“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” -Washington Irving
9.“When you were small and just a touch away, I covered you with blankets against the cold night air. But now that you are tall and out of reach, I fold my hands and cover you with prayer. Dona Maddux Cooper
10.’The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.’ ~ Honore de Balzac
11.’A mighty power and stronger Man from his throne has hurled,For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.’~ William Ross Wallace

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Lee and Me– Those We Love Most!

Lee Woodruff and me in NYC

I have found that writers are generous with one another.  We have to be.  Generally speaking, our families and friends think we’re half-a- bubble-off-level for devoting our lives to the written word, and our editors and agents and publicity people (if we have them) are so overworked and underpaid that we feel sort of guilty bugging them at all.  That leaves us with our characters, and sometimes they’re not so kind.  They tend to sneer when we’ve neglected them.  For instance, I’ve had a pair of lovers standing in a labyrinth in Tulum, Mexico for over a year, and by now they’re really really sunburned and dehydrated and they’re begging for a margharita…but oh no…their author is holding them to the small task of self-actualization, never mind finding the meaning of life.  Problem is, she can’t seem to find the time to breathe life into them these days.  And to add insult to injury, they live in a stack of dissheveled coffee-stained papers, topped off by bills and mouse turds, not to mention a layer of dust.  No, it’s writers who buoy writers.  We get each other.  We cut each other slack.  We connect each other.  We forgive each other.  We cut to the chase and we bleed easily with each other.  That is who Lee Woodruff has been to me.   Sister in words and heart.  Fairy god-mother of my muse.

I met Lee because she interviewed me for a Redbook piece when my memoir came out in 2009.  It was my first magazine interview and I answered the phone with my “business” voice, which was one cleared throat away from the way I talk to my golden retriever.  In other words, unimpressive.  A husky voice came through the phone:  ”Girlfriend!’  And I knew in that moment, we would become just that.  Friends.

I love Lee.  I love her honesty, her depth, her style, her self-deprecation, her wisdom, her willingness to connect kindred spirits, her drive, her compassion, her humility, her example as wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, community member, charity maven.  But most of all, I love that she talks about her dirty underwear.  Literally.  Any writer on tour knows what a precious commodity clean underwear is, and because you are living out of a tiny roller bag for weeks on end, it’s quite likely that you have, yes, some pretty skanky drawers.  Lee likes to open with that fact when she is the MC at womens’ conventions in front of thousands of nattily dressed professionals.  You’d never expect it, as this lovely, angelic, petite blonde in a twin set takes the stage.  I love her for this.  And so much more.  She’s one hell of a writer and one hell of a gal.

The first time I actually met her in person was at the end of my first book tour.  I was in New York, and the limo dropped me off at her house where we’d planned an afternoon together.   I had read in her book “Perfectly Imperfect” that after a tour, she gets out of the car, flings her rollerbag to the side (by the way, it’s red with pink hearts on it), drops to her knees, and kisses the ground.  Well, I did exactly that.  I was so happy to be at the front stoop of a writer sister who GETS IT.  Who would allow me to be puny and complaining and a miserable wreck for at least the time it takes to have a cup of coffee and get over my self.

She said, “Oh, my dear.  Come on in.   I’ll take care of you.”  No one does that on book tour.  You are the one delivering.  You are the one who supposedly knows something.  And somewhere in the sea of fans, old boyfriends, relatives, and scrutinizing potential readers…you hope you will find at least a teaspoon of grace in your time-zone-challenged, sleep-deprived, airplane-ozoned, out-of-shape poor excuse of a body.

I looked at her, in her T-shirt and shorts and bare feet, and just burst into tears, fell into her arms.

She knew it was triage time and she ushered me to an outside deck where we sat in Adirondack chairs and looked at Long Island Sound, cormorants diving, two authors being as raw and real as it gets.  No hair and make up.  Nothing eloquent to say or feel or share.  No audience member to comfort.  No message to get across or nasty question to field.  Just a gushing of understanding from someone who knows that the very thing that got you to this place, that keeps you balanced in your daily life…your sacred writing life…is in the crapper. You haven’t been that girl for weeks, or if you’ve gotten a book published recently, likely months.  You don’t recognize yourself.  You don’t really even like yourself.  You feel like a social media whore.  And you just plain miss your precious practice.

I’ll put it this way and hopefully it will help you understand:  The writing life ain’t for sissies.  It requires intense vulnerability and empathy almost to a fault.  Plus, it’s totally solitary.  Until it’s not.   And sometimes it’s weirdly full-frontal public.  Writers are ridiculously driven, nay obsessed with our craft.  Our writing is our lifeline and that means it can be blood sport.  No one asked us to do it, so we feel lead like Joan of Arc, but also sort of ashamed of the whole thing too.  Like, who do we think we are, anyway.  Writing books.  Thinking we have something that the world needs to hear.  Add to that pesky personality disorder, the fact that most of us are some sort of cross-section between being total wall-flowers, and the one wearing the lamp-shade, sometimes all in one fell swoop.  Think Hunter Thompson.  Think Fitzgerald.  Think Steven King.  In short, we’re whack jobs.  Our friends and families, and yes agents and editors too…all know this.  I had one publicist say, “I’m glad you said it, not us,” winking at her marketing buddy.

I like to think of writers like Lee and me as being only minor offenders in this regard.  We dress up nice.  We know our way around firm handshakes and eye contact.  We know not to chew gum.  And we’re not mean chicks.  Sure we both like to throw around the F bomb from time to time and who cares.  You would too if you spent most of your time channeling the human condition.

All this to say that I am starting a Lee Woodruff fan club and I’m the president.  So there.  If you have not read her three very different (this woman has range!) books, RUN to your local bookstore.  Get all three.  Put them on your bedside table.  Savor them with cups of tea and many pillows propping you up on back-to-back Sunday mornings.  She is an immediate friend on the page whether or not you are lucky enough to call her friend in real life.  Frankly, I think the page IS real life.  Realer than real.  So that means…we’re all in luck.

Now out in paperback!

Here’s a bit of what Lee has to say about the writing life and life in general.  Enjoy!

Click here to buy her fabulous novel, now out in paperback!

LM:  You’ve written a memoir, a book of essays, many interviews and featured articles, and now a novel. Which is your favorite genre and why? 

LW:  By far my fave is fiction.  It’s what I always thought I would do.  If you’d told me that my first two books would be best-selling memoirs, I would have chortled in your face. Notice a chortle and not a laugh-riot because chortle is such a cool thing to execute and type.  In memory you have to color in between the lines– you are playing with material that is real so you can’t stray too far from the facts– but with fiction– you make these characters out of clay and you can have them do anything really, so the artifice is to make it authentic, interesting and believable.

LM:  Which came most easily to you and why do you think that was so? 

LW:  Memoir came easily.  I think it’s from years of being a freelance writer and doing articles and essay pieces on family life.  I learned to know “where the line is” when writing about other people– namely my kids– who didn’t ask to have me as a mother, let alone a memoir-writing mom.  I have always enjoyed mining my own life and life as a parent to draw the parallels to other folks who have collectively experienced the same over-arching themes.

LM:  What did you learn from each about the written word? 

LW:  I learned that less is more.  Each book has taught me to be a more demanding editor of my own work and forced me to end up with a more minimalistic paragraph than the first draft would have suggested.  Memoir writing taught me that we don’t have to  go through life in a particular sequence nor should we feel compelled to include the every day, the mundane, or life in a linear world.

Perfectly Imperfect taught me to hone my funny bone a little and refine my every day sarcastic wit on the paper.  It helped me focus on how to make things funny- which is a big challenge when you are armed with only words to create a mental picture as well as dialogue.

Fiction taught me the balance between character development and dialogue– it also taught me that you may not have to like every character you write but you have to root for at least one.  The reader always wants to root for someone.

LM:  What did you learn from each about yourself? 

LW:  In an Instant— that I could write a book– a feat I’d always thought was only possible when the kids were out of the house and I had giant stretches of time

Perfectly Imperfect — that I love the essay genre and always will and that I have a good knack for knowing where to end things.

Those We Love Most — that I loved getting inside the character’s head and describing things far more than I like writing dialouge.  But real dialogue is tricky– it’s not easy to write the way people actually talk.

LM:  Do you think it’s important to consider your reader in constructing your writing? 

LW:  I do think so.  But I don’t write with the reader in mind. I think I EDIT with the reader in mind but when I first write the story I want to get it out of my head and onto the paper.  I want to see where the characters will take me and what will happen– I don’t start out with a firm outline and a precise idea of every little twist and turn– but at some point you need to consider how it will all hang together for the reader – and that was probably on my second or third pass through.

LM:  How was the editing process different from one genre to the next?

LW:  Memoir writing was so much more straight forward.  Editing the novel was much more like taking a serious scalpel to real plot and character parts, whereas editing the first two books was just about letting material go so the book would be tighter and move along.

LM:  What’s your next project?

LW:  Working on another (very rough) novel and I know it needs tons of work.  But I love/hate having a project.  Love it because it inspires me and makes me feel like I have a secret love– hate it because it’s alway sitting on my shoulder and I never have a regular period of time in which to write.  Someday — oh someday, I’ll put that empty nest to good use, but I’m not about to wish these years away!

THANK YOU, LEE!  oxoxoxoxoxoxoxox  Here’s the link to buy Lee’s books!

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The Glamorous Writing Life

Kelly Corrigan and Laura Munson Books Inc. San Francisco

So I wanted to be a published author. For A LONG TIME. I used to go to bookstores and hear writers speak and put my head in my hands and pray to God that I could just have the bravery to ask that one question. In fact, I would sweat that question the whole reading. “How do you do this writing life thing?” That was really what I wanted to know. How? How? How?

I asked a few of them. Isabelle Allende. Natalie Goldberg. Anne Lamott. They told me to pray. Put inspiring messages under my keyboard. Make mango tea. And I did. And I wrote. And yeah– I got published. And here I am…still writing. And wondering. And TRIPPING OUT on the fact that people come to hear me say things at bookstores and at conferences and at my Montana Haven retreats. With that same look in their eyes, head in their hands. I so get it. And I just want to say one thing: DO THE WORK! No tea or inspiring message or prayer (well maybe prayer) can help you. The work is IT.

I just had the pleasure of doing a gig with the fab writer Kelly Corrigan in San Francisco. My daughter took this photo as we were walking in. I can promise that the two of us felt honored that people showed up to hear us have a conversation about life etc. And I can promise that we both felt a bit weird too. We happen to write. And people read what we write. And that rocks the free world, especially after writing a LOT of things that nobody has read. (see: me…not Kelly).  Still, I love that my daughter captured this moment in which we are two women, walking into a bookstore with an audience waiting, with our bags and our hopes of delivery, and our vulnerability. We even had a heckler. So there you have it. The ego really never explodes. We just keep creating. May you create something you love today. yrs. Laura

p.s.  Kelly is FREAKING hilarious!

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Welcome Spring!

 

 

 

 

2013 Haven Writing Retreats

June 19th-23rd (full– wait list)
August 7th-11th (now booking)
September 4th-8th (now booking)
September 18th-22nd (now booking)

Thank you for my winter haven respite, wherein I gave over These Here Hills to you, worked on a book, and watched from afar while you created community in your blog entries and beautifully rich interactions.  It was a joy to think that community can happen whether or not face to face.  It can be word to word.  Congratulations to Darla Bruno for winning the contest!  She is the recipient of a scholarship to my Haven Writing Retreat in Montana!  I will be back now at These Here Hills and look forward to sharing with you here.

Some people object to social media.  They say it is not a real community.  Well I just recently did an hour live chat with Book Trib and I loved every minute of it.  I might be a talking head on an awkward laptop camera, and I might be alone in my office answering questions typed in from participants, but in this format…there is still community.  Something happens when we make ourselves available to question and answer whether in person or not.  Thank you Book Trib, and to those who participated!  For those of you who didn’t catch it, here you go.

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