Work With Me
“It takes courage to show up for your writing, face your fear, and write anyway.”
~ Marilyn Bousquin
A woman whose story has been silenced must write past silence to the voice at the heart of her story.
But she needn’t write alone. Writing with other women or with a trusted mentor invites your voice and your story to the page.
Don’t Let Your Story Go Untold
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” ~ Maya Angelou
Chances are you have an untold story inside you that aches to be written. I’m guessing the older you get, the more urgent your need to write your story becomes. Maybe at this point in your writing journey you know your story inside out; maybe you’ve written parts of your story but other parts remain unwritten; maybe you’re just beginning to write.
No matter where you are on your memoir writing journey, one thing is certain: Silence is no longer an option. As Rebecca Solnit says, “Being unable to tell your story is a living death.”
Silence is an emotional prison. It cuts you off from your words, your voice, and your sense of self. Silence causes you to question your memory and doubt your own experience. Silence keeps you from your writing. Silence keeps your story untold.
That ache to write your untold story? That’s your voice urging you to the page. Dare I say your voice urged you here to this page. Your voice is that powerful. No matter how silenced you have been, your voice is alive and raring–(roaring?!)–to be heard.
Write Memoir That Glimmers with Your Voice
Every memoir story has a surface story and a deeper heart story. This heart story contains the emotional truth of your experience. Every human story, no matter how shamed or silenced it has been, possesses a heart story that glimmers with truth and beauty.
This glimmery truth is your voice.
The programs at Writing Women’s Lives Academy are designed to help you write to the glimmery truth of your story. Memory by memory you write your voice to the page. This is an act of self-liberation: When you free your voice from silence, you give voice to your truest self.
As Bill Roorbach says, “To have a voice is to have a self. And to have a self is powerful.”
Once you free your voice from silence, there’s no stopping you from transforming your memories into memoirs that glimmer with the truth of what it means to be human in this beautiful world.
Writing your memoir is a gift of healing you give yourself; sharing it is a gift of healing you give your readers.
Ways to Work with Me
Excavate Your Truth/Free Your Voice
A Guided Writing Program for Women Who Are Done with Silence
The word excavation refers to a process of digging for artifacts to uncover something valuable. In Excavate Your Truth/Free Your Voice, excavation refers to an essential part of the writing process in which you write to uncover your voice. Your voice is the “artifact”–the glimmering truth–at the heart of your writing.
Through guided-writing exercises, you will write past silence without censoring yourself. You will deepen your relationship with your writing, begin to recognize the images and metaphors unique to your story and learn to read your story through a writer’s eyes. You will become a more confident, conscious, and reflective writer, and you will carry this conscious awareness into every area of your life. You will learn techniques essential to writing a memoir, and you will practice these techniques in your writing.
In this generative workshop, you will generate a lot of raw writing that delivers your voice and your story to the page.
Craft Your Truth/Claim Your Voice
A Memoir Writing Program for Women Who Are Done with Silence
The ultimate “where craft meets consciousness” writing experience, Craft Your Truth/Claim Your Voice integrates the craft skills essential to writing memoir with the consciousness work necessary to claim your voice and your story from the cultural shame that keeps so many women’s stories untold.
In this program you will write short memoir stories, also known as “flash” memoir. You will learn elements of craft, and you will practice these elements in your writing. You will also create a conscious writing practice that serves your writing needs.
There are two ways you can take this course:
Option 1: Self-paced, DIY
In this option, you do the craft modules and the consciousness modules at your own pace.
Option 2: 1:1, Receive Marilyn’s feedback on your writing
In this option, you do the craft modules and the consciousness modules on a schedule that we work out together. You send me your flash memoir pieces, I send you my written feedback, we meet for coaching calls to discuss your writing.
Writing Out Loud Sisterhood Inner Circle
A Membership Community for Women Who Are Done with Silence
One of the hardest things we face as writers is to show up for our writing and stay the course. The Writing Out Loud Sisterhood Inner Circle is an ongoing membership program that helps you show up for your writing month in and month out within the fold of a warm and supportive sisterhood.
WOLS Inner Circle is founded on the premise that connection to each other fosters an unwavering connection to ourselves and to our writing. It is from this connection that writing gets written, which is why we write together on live teleconference calls twice a month and stay connected to each other in our private Facebook group between calls.
Whether you’re writing a memoir, short memoir stories, poems, a blog, or keeping a life journal, the Writing Out Loud Sisterhood Inner Circle will keep your momentum going for the long haul as you cultivate the art of showing up and holding yourself accountable to your writing goals.
1:1 Mentoring with Marilyn
At some point in your memoir writing journey, you may wish to work 1:1 with a trusted mentor who helps you to write past silence to the truth at the heart of your story. A mentor who possesses a writer’s knowledge of story development AND an understanding of the insidious ways silence keeps many women’s memoirs unwritten. A mentor who views the inevitable obstacles you encounter on your writing journey as opportunities for growth to becoming the writer you want to be.
There are several ways we can work 1:1 together, depending on your needs:
- Get your pages written. Perhaps you are just beginning to write your memoir, or you’ve written some of it but it but the writing has stalled. We can work together to get you going and keep you going so you get your pages written.
- Revise your written pages. Perhaps you’ve written a draft of your memoir and you would like feedback to guide you in your revision. I can read your pages and give you written feedback so that you can get your revision written.
- Momentum & Accountability. Perhaps you’re actively working on a revision and you would like to schedule regular coaching calls to keep your momentum going and stay the course. We can do this!
If you would like to explore the possibilities of a 1:1 mentorship, let’s talk! Email me to set up a complimentary phone call. Please write “1:1 Mentoring” in the subject of your email.
Marilyn is truly gifted when it comes to seeing the truth of the story and helping to bring that truth to the page. Throughout the process, Marilyn’s encouragement and insightful feedback have been invaluable. She’s helped take this story to deeper levels by identifying the heart of each section and chapter. The final manuscript will be much fuller and far beyond what it would have been without her guidance.
As I head into the revision process, I look forward to applying Marilyn’s thoughtful comments and suggestions as I continue working with her. She is an absolute joy to work with, and I’m immensely grateful to have her guidance on this writing journey.
Pre-Writing Guided Meditations for Women Who Are Done with Silence
“The voice is the creature of the body that produces it.” ~Nancy Mairs
Our voices are housed in our bodies, which hold our stories. You must be grounded in your body to write what you know in your bones. As Brenda Miller says, “When our bodies become quiet, the mind takes on a welcoming quality that allows whatever will enter to enter.”
These guided meditations will ground you in your body and quiet your mind so that you can write from the deep well of your voice. A gentle, loving way to ease past resistance and show up for your writing.
A Word about Courage
“Voice is courage.” ~Dani Shapiro
A book-length memoir is not written overnight. For most of us, it’s not written in six months. Or in nine months. Or in a year. That’s because writing a memoir is a journey of discovery: through the act of writing, you discover the meaning at the heart of your story. Through the memoir writing process, you begin to see your story through new eyes. Like any process of conscious awareness, it takes time to see your story anew. It also takes courage.
In her book, I Thought It Was Just Me: Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame, Brene Brown writes: “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor–the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ ”
No wonder Dani Shapiro says, “Voice is courage.”
One of my favorite posters portrays a colorful quilt peopled by women from all walks of life. Some of the women are smiling, some frowning, others glaring. Bold yellow letters across the top of the poster read: The River of Women’s Courage Runs Deep.
In the decades that I have been meeting my voice on the page and holding space for other women to recover their voices from silence, I have learned a thing or two about courage. I have learned that courage is the seat of your voice, and that claiming your voice is claiming your courage. I have learned that writing returns you to your courage, and your courage keeps you writing.
Deep writing is born of deep courage. When a woman dips her pen into the river of her own deep courage, her voice becomes a truth that graces this world.
I cannot wait to read your brave words. YOU are worth writing for.
Sign-up for the Raise Your Voice Free Writing Workshop!
Thank you, dear Teacher. I could not, simply not possible, be more pleased that I chose Craft Your Truth to get my ass in gear and learn how to make what sounds so easy in my mind turn into words on white paper. For the power of ink and the love of a great Teacher, I give thanks.
This class turned out to be life changing for me, and for my art. I heard about it last fall, when I was overwhelmed with work, responsibility, and stress. The last thing I needed was to add more responsibility into my life. And yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about this class. And so, I listened to that quiet inner voice that kept telling me this class was going to be a game changer. She said to listen to my heart and not my head. And so I did. And so it was that my tiny inner voice—the “me” that had been buried since childhood—found a safe place to come out and play, to voice her fears, to share her courage, and to take her rightful place in the world.
Marilyn created the nurturing, safe environment where all of us participants became reacquainted with the parts of ourselves that had been long-buried and were starving to be heard and nurtured and accepted. Nothing is the same for me and I believe that everyone in our class felt the power of this life-changing experience. While I probably will not be writing my memoir with words, I will be writing it with my photographs. My photography has evolved in ways I only could have dreamed of before, but since this class, the creative energy that has been unleashed has taken on a life of its own.
Thank you to Marilyn and all the “writing sisterhood” for being part of this transformative process. xoxo –Jeanne