Two days ago I started Book 59 of my memoirs.
Okay, it’s not exactly Book 59. There’s my baby book, the book I kept the summers I went to music camp, a few abortive attempts to do something campy and art-journaly before returning to black ink and black cloth-bound sketch books, my equally-abortive attempts to keep a journal using a computer journaling program, a couple of travel journals, and my art-portfolio journal which works terrifically on line because I can put information, instructions, reference links, and photographs all in one place. If I included every one of those in the count, I’m probably at book 75 or so.
But those 58, consecutively numbered books—my hard-backed, hard-core journals—extend in an unbroken line to Thursday, August 10, 1978. Not that I have written every day, or every week, but those books still document 32 years, 8 months, and 2 days of my life. One of the things I’m most proud of is that I started working with Julia Cameron’s morning pages May 30th of last year, and for the past 10 months I do have almost daily entries.
They’re not exactly memoirs either. More like memory seeds. When I started back in 1978 I made myself two promises. I was allowed to write anything in the journal and I would never rip an entry out. I’ve kept both of those promises. Yeah, there is good stuff in there, but there is also a huge amount of sloppy, sleazy, huffy, despondent, raucous, glib, weird stuff. That’s okay. When I either get around to mining this gold field—or someone else, say an underpaid graduate student—gets to mine it, all that stuff will go into the memoir pot.
Which brings me around to an organization that’s worth it’s weight in gold, and to a new award that is now accepting nominees.
Story Circle Network is an international organization “for women with stories to tell.” It’s focus is to help women share the stories of their lives and to raise public awareness of the importance of women’s personal histories. From their Internet story circles to their quarterly publication of women's writing, True Words for Real Women, to their sugar bowl scholarships that pay the membership dues for low-income women, to their writers’ mentoring program, to the on-line Lifewriters Group this organization has gone from strength to strength since founded in 1997 by Dr. Susan Wittig Albert.
SCN had just launched its first May Sarton Literary Award dedicated to women’s memoirs. First-person memoirs, printed or e-book format, first published in 2011 are eligible for nomination. The author, the publisher, a friend or relative of the author may make the nomination. Authors do not have to be a member of Story Circle Network in order to be considered. Deadline for submission is 2011 December 15 and full details on eligibility, how to submit and a submission form can be found here. The winner will be announced at the sixth Stories from the Heart Conference in Austin, Texas in April 2012.
I cannot say enough good things about this organization. Copy down the web address. Keep it with you. I’ve printed it out on business-card blanks and I always have three or four of them with me. Every time a woman tells me you she is thinking about writing about her life, or has written, or just wants to read some terrific writing about being a woman, I give her one of the cards, and encourage her to visit the site at least once. I’m encouraging you to do the same.
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