Interview with the National Association of Memoir Writers
Host: Linda Joy Meyers, Director, NAMW.org
Guest: Lynda Monk, Director, IAJW.org
About Lynda’s Adoptee Memoir in Progress
I have been working on my adoptee memoir on and off for over 20 years. I started working on it after I found and reunited with my biological mother. I have thousands and thousands of words written. The writing is a labour of love that takes a lot of emotional presence. It takes spaciousness for the heart to process and listen to what wants to be said.
There is also a lot of grief that slows me down and speeds me up all at once in the writing. Including my sadness that I really wanted this memoir to be a love letter, in part to my adoptive parents, a messy love letter, but nonetheless, a love letter. Sadly, in the time I’ve been working on this project, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he died nearly 4 years ago now. The year he died my mother was diagnosed with this same unmerciful disease. The two readers that mattered most to me, will no longer be able to receive this story.
There’s a part in this memoir-in-progress where I talk about forced forgetting and forced remembering. My birth mother – and many other young women in the home for unwed moms during the late 1960’s – were told to forget that their babies were ever born, they were told to forget the unforgettable. When my Dad was declining with Alzheimer’s, I witnessed him try to force himself to remember who I was, his only daughter. A memory and knowing that did eventually escape him.
Journaling to Memoir
In this interview hosted by Linda Joy Meyers, the Director of NAMW, the National Association of Memoir Writers, I share how my journal writing practice is central to writing this memoir, a manuscript I aspire to complete in 2022.
Memoir writing involves making choices, mining our memories, deciding what gets said and what doesn’t. Most of all, it requires a willingness to know who we are, as does journal writing. Life writing involves being curious about not just where we come from, but it also strives to shape who we are becoming as a result of the stories and experiences that influence our lives.
There are many differences between journaling and memoir writing, and there are similarities too. The raw material in our journals can inform the heart and details of our memoir. But we need to have some ideas and strategies for working between both genres of personal writing to tap into the rich and mutually beneficial potential in both.
Click on the video to listen to this interview now. Please note, the video ends in advance of the Q&A portion of the interview. Your comments or questions are most welcome below.
Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing. She regularly speaks and teaches about the healing and transformational power of journal writing. She is the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection.