Monthly Archives: January 2011

An Editor’s Perspective: The Value of Journaling

Roseanne Rini, SCN Editorial Service, #1

A Discovery
When I was in school, every paper I was assigned brought on a crisis. It was necessary for me to work through several days of anxiety before I could actually begin to write and by then the pressure of the deadline, forcing me to complete the task, would produce a result far inferior to what it could have been had I had more time.

The reason I went through this, I finally figured out years later, was that I was not writing in my own voice. I had not yet found my own voice and instead was forcing myself into an external mold. Naturally I felt intimidated, like I could not measure up, and confined or stifled; in short, I was stopped. All of this changed when I began to devote regular attention to my journal and to trust the voice emerging there.

Trusting Your Voice
Mistrusting one’s own voice is what stops a writer. Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to discover and strengthen that voice. Journal-writing is liberating because in one’s journal one is accountable only to oneself. One may write whenever and whatever one wishes and in whatever way without concern about criticism. Initially some people are blocked, even with journal writing, because years of school and grades may have created an internal censor who interferes even with this very private act of self-expression. But if one keeps at it, if one becomes convinced that one is truly free in the journal, this censor begins to loosen its hold and fall away, and the authentic voice comes out of hiding. Journals then become rich sources for memoir.

People often say, “My life is too ordinary to be the subject of a memoir.” But if you are keeping a journal, if you are listing or describing your experience and reflecting upon it, you will find that you do have a story or several stories to tell. Often the “germ” of your memoir or personal essay may lie in a statement or paragraph that could be more fully developed; one that, like the tip of an iceberg, suggests so much more.

Click Here if you are interested in some examples of journal entries that could be developed into a personal essay or memoir.

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Roseanne Rini: I’ll be sharing some of my insights as an editor in this and future blogs. As a member of SCN’s Editorial Service, I look forward to the opportunity of editing a chapter or a manuscript that you feel is ready for the helping hand and watchful eye of an editor.

Click Here for more information on SCN’s Editorial Service.

Want to see me at work? I like to do my editing work sitting in my favorite spot in the living room, a cup of coffee or tea at my side and my cat, Joey, wandering in and out of the room or curled up next to me. Outside my window I see the trees, barren now against a late winter sky but soon to bloom with a mist of green, and in the distance, the brick house of my neighbor across the street.

Here’s a little background information about me.

I have a Ph.D. in English and thirty-four years of experience teaching college English and Women’s Studies courses, most of which have required a considerable amount of writing. As a result of my teaching experience, I have developed strong analytical and editing skills. I have especially enjoyed working with students individually to improve their writing skills.

I bring to my reading of any manuscript a knowledge of what are considered the “classics” of American and British literature in addition to a special interest in and familiarity with nineteenth and twentieth century as well as contemporary women writers, many of whom I have taught in both my Women’s Studies and English courses. I am especially interested in women’s memoirs and I am currently writing a memoir of my own.

A life-long journal-keeper, I am also very interested in the role writing plays in personal growth, healing and spirituality and have found my own journals to be critical to these processes. The search for identity and autonomy is in my experience greatly facilitated by the keeping of journals, which may then serve as rich sources for personal essay and memoir. The issue of identity is especially interesting to me within the contexts of gender and ethnicity, specifically Italian American ethnicity.

Reading and writing are central to my life, both my work and my pleasure.

ABC’s of Writing: A is Also for Advice

ABC’s of Writing, Matilda Butler, Post #11



A Funny Thing Happened in the Way to This Post
More than a month ago, Monday December 20th to be precise, I was on this website preparing my post for that day. I had it ready to publish when I got distracted. That was the day before we took possession of our new home in Corvallis and we needed to be at the home for a final walk through with the previous owners. I dashed out the door and must have consigned this post to the category of finished tasks. To be honest, I didn’t think about it again until last week when I was on the site writing about Susan Wittig Albert’s upcoming post about journaling that would appear on our site the following day. That’s when I saw that I had a draft post. I looked at it and found what you see below.

Today, I decided to come back to this post and publish it even though our holiday greeting and thanks to SCN now had to be given a “belated” emphasis. Why not just skip this post? I want to share with you a brief video that I did based on advice for writers from Virginia Woolf and Stephen King. You can follow the link from the text below.

Thanks. I promise that I won’t be so distracted this year.

Virginia Woolf and Stephen King Agree

Last week in my post, I shared Susan J. Tweit’s interview about her first venture into self-publishing, an audio of 28 vignettes. I thought my title was just right: A is for Audio. In the back of my mind, I thought I’d find a B is for xxx this week. Instead, I find myself still with an A.

When Kendra and I teach, we notice that many women do not have the tools for writing their stories. Sure, they know what they want to write about. Sure, they know they need to devote time to their writing. But they don’t necessarily consider their writing important enough to merit the important tools. Some use a husband’s computer when it is available. Some use the kitchen table for writing but then move everything so that the family can eat dinner. The list goes on. You may be one of those people. If so, the video that I have posted on Women’s Memoirs may just be the encouragement to start taking care of your needs for a writing life.

Perhaps you already have a computer and a room dedicated to your writing. Many don’t, so you are to be congratulated. But even you will find the advice about the importance of truth in story (whether you are writing memoir or fiction) to be just the spark that gets you back to writing.

Be sure to check out the advice from Virginia Woolf and Stephen King — an unlikely pair.

A Belated Holiday Wish
Kendra Bonnett and I wish you a wonderful holiday season and hope that 2011 finds you actively engaged in your writing life. In particular, we’d like to thank Story Circle Network for all that it does to support women in reaching our writing goals.