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February Newsletter of Personal Essay Writing
Vol. 16, No. 2 February 2016
© 2016 Carol Celeste All Rights Reserved ISSN 2168-7854

Well Art

* Carol's Comments
* Memoir Quote
* Article - "Got Theme?"
* Course Offerings
* Personal Essay Topic to Write About NOW
* Become a Licensee
* Therapeutic Writing Fact
* Book Review
* Markets
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What is foremost on your mind these days? Chances are, it's a perfect topic for a personal essay, or even longer work, no matter what the topic. Nothing is too mundane for life-writng story land so don't shun writing about commonplace events.

When we tell our stories, we share (or should) what we feel about the events and what we learned from them. Sharing our life lessons helps our readers cope with their own situations.

As you plan and write your personal tales, think about the lessons learned and form a cohesive story around one of those lessons. A general theme that develops from your stories brings readers into your world and emphasizes the result of your self-exploration. Themes help you learn, as well.

The article gives some examples of how to insert theme into your life-writing, and how to find a theme if you aren't sure you have one. Theme is an important element in creating an effective personal essay—effective both for you and for your readers. It turns a collection of disjointed stories into a united body of work with a lesson to share.

The book review this month is a memoir of a different sort about a life that truly is different from what most of us have (or ever will) experienced. Reading memoirs can show us how to structure our own stories, and what to avoid in order to achieve maximum satisfaction for readers and for ourselves.

If publication is your goal, find paying markets for your gems below and by clicking on the Paying Markets menu tab. Why not share your stories with the world? We're waiting.

Write to heal, write to grow, write to reflect,
Carol Celeste
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Memoir Quote: "Writing about the small details tricks us into eventually facing the large subject matter inside them." Lee Martin, novelist and wriiting instructor
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All courses are conducted by email and begin every Friday. Compare the prices to other online personal essay courses and you'll realize the value offered. Meidabistro=$499, Gotham Writers Workshop=$395,$295 and up, Truby's=$449 to name a few. Don't wait another day. To register now or order a course as a gift visit Writing Courses.
These courses are now offered:
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WRITING TO SELL Writing to Sell.
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WTH,WTG writers say...

"This course raised my interest in writing personal essays. I always felt they were a bit self indulgent, but this course showed me otherwise."

"The feedback was in depth and much needed."

"I appreciate your comments and suggestions and lessons. I plan on taking more courses with you."

"I am loving the has inspired me to write again after a very long hiatus."
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ARTICLE - Got Theme?
Theme holds a story together and makes it linger in reader memory long after the reading stops. Knowing the theme from the beginning saves rewriting and helps keep you on track while you write.

The opening of an essay sets up readers for what follows. That is where you hint at your theme, the implicit recurring idea of your story. Readers look for the relationship between the event they experience at that moment and the theme promised at the opening. They may not know they are doing that, but they will know if they don't find it.

Without a theme, you have a collection of events that may seem unconnected. Theme in personal stories establishes continuity. Here are some places to inject theme in every part of your life-writing as you write, or, if you haven't found one, to look for a theme as you edit your first draft. As you plan your theme, keep in mind the lessons readers can learn from your theme-related events.

The experiences you include in your narration offer the opportunity for theme development. Choose only those that pertain to the story you want to tell.

Dialogue that shares feelings about what's happening, brings readers closer to your experience and helps them associate your theme events with things happening in their lives.

Analogies reveal your inner thoughts through comparison. Select ones that strengthen the theme.

Symbols can be people as well as things and appeal to the reader’s subconscious understanding of the theme your story projects.

Ask yourself how each element connects to your main point, or what point each leads to if you don't have a clear theme in mind yet.

Don't leave ragged edges or loose strings in your story tapestry. Weave your life events tightly through theme.
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Looking for something to write about? Here's a topic to inspire your inner self to emerge.

Write about a love relationship, past or present, romantic or not.
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Looking for extra income while you help people? Writing to Heal, Writing to Grow licenses let you set your own hours as a workshop facilitator. All instructions provided. Individuals, facilities and associations may lead these easy-to-conduct therapeutic writing workshops.

Individuals, facilities and associations may license and conduct these easy-to-lead therapeutic writing and discussion programs:
* Writing for Wellness - Why wait until a specific condition strikes to write to heal? Writing helps maintain good health. This four-week expressive writing and discussion course is designed to help adults maintain good health by: reducing stress levels, improving immune system function, working through negative emotional issues, and increasing working memory. Clinical studies indicate that those who are coached in expressive writing show the greatest improvement in stress levels and memory function. Learn more at: Wellness.
* Writing About Cancer - promotes healing and growth for patients and survivors. Visit Cancer to learn more.
* Writing for Personal Caregivers - contributes to stress reduction and coping. Visit Caregivers to learn more.
* Writing for Health Care Professionals - may be eligible for CEUs in your area. Visit Care Professionals to learn more.

You do not need to have special education to be a successful facilitator. What you do need is compassion for people, a desire to help others face their demons and heal, and the ability to talk to others in a group setting and market the workshops. All courses promote personal healing and/or growth. Each license comes with lecture material, a step-by-step facilitator guide, handouts and an evaluation survey. Begin your new career helping others. Email Licensing for details.
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Therapeutic Writing Fact
From: "The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing: A Case Study with Abused Women," 1998 Masters thesis by Margo Stevens. "Writing also appears to assist individuals in moving toward or actually changing behavior. With added clarity, options for problem solving are more readily available. The additional benefit of improved self-confidence and self-acceptance reflects on people’s choices and how they conduct their lives."
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Book Review ~ Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor
What young American girl would expect to become a queen except in her childhood fantasy life? A memoir about such a life promises unique, personal and emotional episodes that let us experience a world we can only imagine. But this book is more about King Hussein than about Queen Noor.

The main vehicle for showing feelings in this memoir consists of sparse journal citations. This shows how useful journals can be for life- writing but it accentuates a disappointing lack of forthright emotional expression in this book. We read about people's lives to learn about them. A Leap of Faith gives a lot of historyfrom the author's biased perspective, which makes sense given the events in the Middle East at the time (the book was written in 2003, Hussein died in 1999) and since, but Queen Noor relates most of her life events as journalistic narrative lacking emotion that must have accompanied many of her decisions.

Readers want to feel a memoir is truthful. A sense that Queen Noor is holding back pervades the book, leaving many questions unanswered. Down playing the degree of privilege she experienced as a child (elite private schools are not found in normal families), the number of "dear friends"she had among world leaders (how close can heads of state become with great geographic and political distance separating them?), her surprise when King Hussein proposed after months of spending nearly every evening with him (what king would spend that kind of time with an attractive much younger woman except for romantic interest?). They travel a great deal, together and separately, they have many homes around the world but Noor doesn't describe them well enough to give readers a sense of place. Some details we could have done without relate to her husband's illnesses. The ending chapters held all the emotion in the book and even caused tears, but I suspect they resulted as much from memories of dealing with my own parents as with the delivery in the book. Deep love comes through along with Noor’s interest in her Arabic ancestors rather than her Swedish mother's.

Perhaps the most unexpected lack in A Leap of Faith is the author's leap right over the importance of faith. Changing faith, or acquiring it (there is little evidence of active religion in her childhood), is usually a major life event, as is changing citizenship. Here we learn only that she converted to Islam due to how compassionate, peaceful and kindly toward women it was. There is no mention of how daily prayers or other rituals impacted her life

In your life writing, deliver what you promise in your opening if you want to satisfy your readers and gain the most benefit for yourself.
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Contact the source listed for details and to request guidelines. An extensive list of paying markets for personal essays appears at Markets. Writing to Heal,Writing to Grow does not screen or endorse these listings. Submit at your own risk and always check guidelines first. Good luck! If a link doesn't work search for the title.
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Upstreet magazine takes creative nonfiction submissions for its next issue with a deadline of March 1. Pays from $50 to $250 for accepted essays plus a copy of the issue. Online submission only. Check details at Upstreet.

Flash Memoir takes vignettes from your life up to 750 words. Deadline March 1, fee $12. Prizes of $125 and $50 to two winners. Learn more at Writer Advice.

Sibling Relationships is the theme of an anthology by In Fact Books from the Creative Nonfiction Foundation. Word count 4,500 max. Deadline March 7. $3 fee for online submissions only. Seeks first-person accounts with wide interpretation of siblings. Find out more at Books from the Creative Nonfiction.

Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction Contest by Bellingham Review considers up to 6,000-word essays.Deadline March 15, fee $20. Winner paid $1,000 and publication. All entrants receive a copy of the issue. Find more information and submitting details at Bellingham Review.

Share personal essay markets you know about. Email them to and I'll add them to the website list.
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