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January Newsletter of Personal Essay Writing
Vol. 15, No. 1 January 2015 © 2015 Carol Celeste All Rights Reserved ISSN 2168-7854

Well Art

* Carol's Comments
* Memoir Quote
* Article - "Personal Essay or Confession?"
* Course Offerings
* Personal Essay Topic to Write About NOW
* Become a Licensee
* Therapeutic Writing Fact
* Book Review
* Markets
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Einstein considered that "the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent." Whether or not time exists, the idea that it does certainly persists in the human mind to the extent that it governs our lives. We exist in blocks of time which seem to huddle closer together with each passing year. A new year gives us special awareness of time since it marks an end and beginning moment shared by all.

As we reflect on the past year we applaud our accomplishments and resolve to improve areas in need of tweaking. Too often, our resolutions are the same as last year. We begin with good intentions but lack the will power to follow through.

Reflection seems to increase with age, for a couple of reasons, I believe. We sense the passing of time, even if it isn't real, and know we have less time on earth ahead if us than behind us. That makes us consider the people, places, events of our past with wonder, pleasure, regret and hopefully a good dose of humor. We also reflect on the past more as we age because we seem to be making fewer memories and use the past to give us a worthwhile present to ponder.

Writing about our reflections solidifies them in our hearts and, if we share with others, spreads our lessons and joys with family, friends and even strangers if you choose.

Writing to Heal, Writing to Grow personal essay courses are waiting to help you start the new year with purpose. Find details on the Courses tab line above. They make unique, thoughtful gifts anytime of the year, too.

Look for paying markets for your work by clicking on on the Paying Markets menu tab.

Write to heal, write to grow, write to reflect,
Carol Celeste
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Memoir Quote: "It seems absurd that people who want to write memoirs don't think it necessary to read the memoirs others have written before them." Marge Piercy & Iran Wood, authors So You Want to Write
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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...

"I felt like I had really accomplished something every time that I turned in one of the essays."

"I liked the convenience of getting the lecture and assignment at home."

"Thank you for your guidance without ridicule. That has meant a lot to me."

"The topics we wrote about were really in-depth and exciting-topics that everyone can relate to and that force you to look inside yourself and to face the truth and write about it. I also liked the set-up and the pace of the course. I thought it was excellent."
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ARTICLE - Personal Essay or Confession?
You may count among the people who resist life-writing because they think it has to contain confession and they aren't ready, and may never be, to bare their souls to others. Confessions certainly make good, sometimes titillating, stories, but personal essays don't have that as a goal. Journals are a more likely place to confess and many even resist being honest with themselves there.

The term essay carries a staid, serious, even boring reputation, probably from those school assignments nearly everyone dreads. But the character of personal writing has changed over the years and now fields that used to be just-the-facts-based have adopted a more literary pose. Newspaper articles don't begin with the most important facts anymore, they open with an anecdote that's as sensational as possible for the given news item. In fact, the items published in papers are frequently not even newsworthy. The form's the thing.

For that type of writing, just about any topic, even the most mundane life event, will do. Consider some of the topics veteran writer Meghan Daum (who would rather be a journalist but seems to produce personal essays) has tackled: refusing to learn to cook, irritation that people don't appreciate Joni Mitchell, how unsentimental folks can love dogs, in addition to more serious occurrences like losing a parent, facing middle age or deciding to forego having children. These and more appear in the author's recent book The Unspeakable. While she openly and clearly reveals her feelings, or in some cases lack of feelings, Daum insists her work is not confessional.

If fear of confession prevents you from trying your hand at life-writing, try an everyday topic. Columnists Dave Barry and the late Erma Bombek made very healthy incomes writing about what happens to them every day; the same things that happen to all of us but we don't write about them and share.

Confession isn't required in personal essay and may not be appropriate. So it's time to start the year with a life-writing spree. What's your topic today?
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Looking for something to write about? Here's a topic to inspire your inner self to emerge.

Write about someone you would like to know better and how you plan to achieve that in 2015.
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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: "Writing as Therapy: A Silence That Speaks Louder Than Words" by Sharon Hinsull, "Whether a carefully crafted manuscript aimed at future publication or a frantically scribbled imaginary letter destined for immediate destruction, writing can undoubtedly be one of the most powerful and cathartic forms of therapy that there is - and all of it freely available at one's very own fingertips."
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Book Review ~ How to Write Your Life Story by Ralph Fletcher
This book is a bit different for this column since it is intended for children. But not greatly different because it does not write down to readers and might help anyone of any age with limited writing experience get started with a first attempt at life writing. As I read I wondered what age group was the target since the only reference was "young writers" and, while vocabulary was basic, it was not particularly child-like. I finally found some teacher reviews on Good Reads that suggested ages 8 through 12 and one that said "definitely for middle school."

Ralph Fletcher has written several books on writing for children and several teachers seem touse his books in class. At 97 pages, it doesn't take long to read and is structured to cover the basic areas of personal writing. The author begins by dispelling some notable myths about autobiographical writing, namely that you must be a celebrity, old, have led an amazing life, and/or have potential readers lined up. These are all blocks to starting a biography or memoir but especially for children who are left out of the "old" category.

Chapters cover getting started, finding a focus, crafting the story, dealing with hard stuff, and more. His advice for the hard stuff is, "Don’' leave out the bad stuff when you write your life story. Our most awful experiences may be the most important because they are the ones that truly shape who we are." To clarify for young readers, Fletcher offers examples written by him and others and interviews several writers in a Q & A format that explores their writing processes including how and what to research and the sticky topic of revealing unflattering things about other people.

In this short book detail is missing, but the information is adequate to encourage younger writers, or anyone lacking life-writing experience, to give it a try. The deepest instruction for sharing personal stories is answering readers' inevitable question: What's the point? Fletcher advises, "When you're writing your life story, readers expect that you communicate why this event is important, what it says about you as a person and your life as a whole."

A list of suggested reading gives more help in dealing with life events. Reading How to Write Your Life Story won't yield a masterpiece, but it has potential to motivate children to develop an interest in the genre and give it a try. For beginning writers the advice to write what you know is probably sound, and what do children, or adults, know better than how they feel about life?
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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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Writers-Editors Writing Competition accepts previously published essays or book chapters. May be nostalgia, personal experience or opinion. Prizes: $100, $75, $50. Deadline Mar. 15. Fee for under 3,000 words = $10. Up to 5,000 words = $20. More details found at: Writers-Editors Writing Competition.

Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize pays $1,000 and publication to winner. 6,000 word limit. Deadline March 15, Fee $20 per entry. Winner receives $250 and publication. For submission instructions visit: Fourth Genre.

Dreams & Premonitions from Chicken Soup for the Soul wants to know how premonitions shaped your life. Pays $200 and 10 free books if yours is published. Up to 1,200 words. Rights remain with authors. Deadline March 15. Find more information at: Chicken Soup.

The Expeditioner takes first-person travel stories 1,100 to 1,300 words. Pays $30. More at: The Expeditioner.

Lifeway Christian Resources takes personal experience stories and more that would appeal to 55 and over age group. 90% freelance written. Word count from 600-1,200. Pays $85- $115. Check the details, including what they won't take at Lifeway Christian Resources.

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