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April Newsletter of Personal Essay Writing
Vol. 16, No.4 April 2016
© 2016 Carol Celeste All Rights Reserved ISSN 2168-7854

Well Art

* Carol's Comments
* Memoir Quote
* Article - "Hidden Benefits of Writing"
* Course Offerings
* Personal Essay Topic to Write About NOW
* Become a Licensee
* Therapeutic Writing Fact
* Book Review
* Markets
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My theory for chosing April as National Poetry Month is to honor that prolific poet as well as playwright, William Shakespeare whose birthday falls in April. We can write life stories in poetry as well as prose with the same beneficial results.

April is also National Humor month. Using humor in our life stories conveys messages memorably and keeps readers with us better than somber prose. Of course, some topics require somber treatment but even the most serious events usually adapt well to touches of humor. Gallows humor has a place in life writing.

Stress Awareness Month comes in April, as if we aren't already aware of that overriding health peril. Reducing stress can change your life.

The article in this issue deals with some of the less realized benefits that come to us from our life stories and other writing. The book review shares one of the many treatments that writers give to memoirs. While they are about us, our perspective on life can play a major role as well.

Celebrate the month with life writing, in prose or poem, and try adding some humor to your tales. Then count the ways you benefitted. You’ll feel better and grow as a person, no fooling! When the writing is done, share your stories with the world. Find paying markets on the tab above.

Write to heal, write to grow, write to reflect,
Carol Celeste
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Memoir Quote: "Just the act of writing down memories and conversations makes them easier to remember." Sandra Cisneros, fiction, poetry writer
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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 liked the convenience of getting the lecture and assignment at home."

"I have had a few published pieces in the newspaper, online and won the Writer's Digest contest. You are at least a part of that – probably a nice, big part."

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

"It made me look at my experiences and begin to understand myself better."
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ARTICLE - The Hidden Benefits of Writing
Writing about something upsetting helps us vent and writing about the joys in our lives lets us enjoy them anew. Life-writing also gives us a way to share a part of ourselves with others who may gain from our experiences. These are obvious benefits. But writing also yields benefits we don't think about, expect or recognize during our writing sessions.

While it's a popular myth that we are dominated by one side of the brain, it is still a myth. Psychologists say we are not entirely dominated by either side of the brain. The brain works best when using both sides at once. Writing forces us to do that without any effort on our part. I call it simul-craneous activity.

Writing requires the use of the logical and intuitive parts of the brain to help us choose the right concepts and words to express what we want to say in a way that readers will understand as we intend.

We think of mathematical minds as being tied to formulas and absolute procedures, and creative minds as being exploratory and imaginative. But math involves a lot of creativity, beyond in bookkeeping! I recall a math class I took, under duress, where I learned a new word – spurious. There was an equation for something that would only give the correct answer if a spurious number were inserted at one stage only to be removed when the actions were completed. Spurious means counterfeit. This number had no relation to any part of the equation but was necessary in order to make the equation compute. To me, that is creativity. And it is only by exploring, that scientific types uncover things creative types can only imagine. Yet without analysis and obeying rules or grammar, etc., our writing would not communicate much to anyone, even to ourselves.

All this brain cooperation shares the burden of thinking about our words which results in reduced stress, improved health, a greater sense of well-being and better solutions to the problems we face.

The benefits of writing may be hidden to us as we write, but they manifest in our spirits, minds and bodies. Let's all Write On!
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Looking for something to write about? Here's a topic to inspire your inner self to emerge.

Write about the cleverest April Fool's prank you have initiated or witnessed. What was the result?
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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: "Effects of Writing About Stressful Experiences on Symptom Reduction in Patients With Asthma or Rheumatoid Arthritis A Randomized Trial" by Joshua M. Smyth, PhD, "Patients with mild to moderately severe asthma or rheumatoid arthritis who wrote about stressful life experiences had clinically relevant changes in health status at 4 months compared with those in the control group. These gains were beyond those attributable to the standard medical care that all participants were receiving."
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Book Review ~ Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir by Penelope Lively
"This is not quite a memoir. Rather, it is the view from old age." That's how Penelope Lively begins the preface of Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir. If you wonder about the title, the explanation comes in the final chapter about things she treasures. As I read, I periodically wondered when the title items would appear. Take care that your titles don't distract readers from the story.

To be sure, this is not a traditional memoir. It is more of a musing on thoughts and lessons learned over 80 years of life. Lively's mind lives up to her name. This book shares acquired opinions and experiences with readers.

Dancing Fish and Ammonites offers an example of the variations a writer can apply to the memoir genre and still fit the label. Although it rambles quite a bit, memories are used as foundations for the opinions the author formed so we learn more about the inner self than we would with a memoir focused on events.

"Reading is experience," Lively says and her collection of books has given her many experiences. Memories are kindled by those books and the influence they had on her opinions and life choices. All that reading led her eventually to writing herself, primarily fiction which is what she most enjoyed reading.

Another section delves into the different aspects of memory, something that fascinated Lively as she aged, as perhaps it does all of us. It sounds a bit technical in places and drifts off the topic of memoir, but the gist of it for Lively is "the moth-eaten version of our own past….It is our ID; this is how we know who we are and where we have been."

Where the book most resembles the conventional memoir is the section "Life and Times" where Lively notes the specific changes that occurred during her life. She saw a good deal of change to be sure. Born in Egypt to British parents during wartime, displaced to Palestine for safety and eventually moving to England, Lively notes major social and political changes around the world. She sums up her life experience with this passage: "I grew up to the backdrop of one set of assumptions and sign off in a very different society."

The final chapter describes the meaning of six things in her house that represent "the accretions of a lifetime" and finally explains the title. One of the six things is a stone with the imprint of two fossil ammonites and the other is an ancient pottery piece with two fish that appear to be dancing painted on it. Don't overuse unusual words (like accretions) in your work as Lively did here.

If you have opinions to share, Dancing Fish and Ammonites may serve as a model for your collection.
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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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Dead Bison Editor’s Prize takes up to 25 pages of true stories in any format, including personal essay and memoir. Pays $1,000. Entry fee, $15. Deadline Apr. 30. Find more information and submission details at: Dead Bison.

Today’s Christian Woman takes personal essays and first-person narratives between 800 and 1,500 words that encourage Christian women in daily life. Sidebar information preferred. Learn more at Today's Christian Woman.

Cultures & Cuisines pays around $200 for first-person or third-person essays from 800 words to 3,000 about “exotic” places or spots near your own home turf where food and culture meet. Find more information, archives and submissions details at Cultures & Cuisines.

Writers Digest Annual Contest has a memoir/personal essay category. Each category pays $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 and $25 through 10th place plus varied discounts on WD books and more. One Grand Prize awarded of $5,000 and much more. Deadline is May 6. Check details at Writers Digest Annual Contest.

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