By Margaret Kinney
“I learned that I can risk adventures into my past.”“I realized the importance of writing down certain memories. It provided some peace and was very healing.”“I loved the sharing of stories. It really connected me to others’ experiences.”“I learned I can leave a part of me for my descendants by writing my story.”“I was so surprised at what I was able to remember.”“I had great insights revealed to me.” These are a few of the comments garnered from participants of Margaret Kinney’s memoir writing groups. There will soon be an opportunity for local adults to practice their personal writing skills with Kinney, a West End resident. Kinney has been interested in memoir writing since her graduate program in Human Development at St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis 20 years ago. She further developed her skills at bringing forth others’ memoirs in her work as an addiction counselor, from which she is now retired. “There is no previous writing experience needed for the two-hour session. We all have the ability to order our memories and experiences through words, and to bring integration to the emotional and intellectual parts of us. My job is to assist each writer to bring forth his/her ‘buried treasure.’” After each short writing exercise, participants are encouraged to share the discoveries and challenges that occurred during the writing. The workshop session will entail four or five seven-minute writing periods, with optional sharing between each one. “As a facilitator, I will ask attendees to reflect on and write about particular memories, while giving some writing tips and assurances. Some may come to the workshop prepared to explore a particular memory, but there will also be guiding questions provided. In essence, it’s not a difficult process, and can be quite meaningful and enjoyable. “The workshop is not about turning out ‘perfect’ writing. Memoir is writing only for oneself, to discover hidden gems of experiences, some of which may have been long forgotten, and some of which are begging to be told or better understood.”Margaret Kinney, MA, LADC, has implemented memoir and family story writing groups for community education, Women and Spirituality Conferences at Mankato, Full Circle Arts, various women’s groups and the Women’s Recovery Center.
A Memoir Writing Workshop will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 10 a.m. to noon, at the West 7th Community Center, 265 Oneida St., St. Paul, Room 203. Cost is $19. Call 612-716-5803 to register.