A Memoir in Progress
Last year I attended IWWG Summer Conference at the prompting of my IWWG friends, Deborah Reed and Lisa Shapiro. It was my first writing conference and I was simply mesmerized by how important and fulfilling it was. I have to say it exceeded all of my expectations and I loved each and every session and moment there. I was one of the twelve that Maureen Murdock had in her limited Advanced Memoir Class and I took Dorothy and June’s classes as well. I had the opportunity to meet Dixie and Hope and was in Judy and Susan’s critique class. I loved the evenings and your short plays were the icing on the cake, with my friend and suitemate Lisa writing one of them.
Right now, I take memoir workshops and am in a read and critique class as well as serve as President of the San Diego Memoir Writers Association. Two of the scenes from my memoir in progress have won in the San Diego Memoir Showcase and have been performed on stage, an honor I never expected to happen.
You see, I retired from the corporate world three years ago and began to take classes and settled in to write a family history for my sons, something I had never seemed to have time to do while working full time. One of the classes was The Artist’s Way and in that class I felt the creativity that I had stifled for years begin to bloom. I also began writing a list of gratitude and intentions every day along with my Morning Pages. Without planning to, I began writing secretly in my journal about the trauma I had experienced as a teenage unwed mother in 1967 in New Orleans. This was something I held as my darkest secret. Even my grown sons did not know the story, only my husband knew the full story of how I had been forced to relinquish my new born son for adoption. I had never known what happened to my first born son and I had mourned him silently and secretly for 49 years.
I began to write about that time in my life for the first time and to add “find Jamie” (my baby’s crib name) to my list daily.
Within six months, my son found me through Ancestry.com DNA! It was a miracle in my life and the most amazing beautiful thing, something I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams when I was that heartbroken young girl all those years ago in the 1960s. My son and my reunion explicitly rocked my world! And his too!
The last two years have been truly amazing. I thank God every day for this second chance with my son. Although we’re separated by a distance of 2000 miles, we stay in touch and visit each other often.
After our reunion I shelved the family history project and began to write my memoir about that period in my life. I went from being unable to utter the words to wanting to tell the world the story. I have finished my 2nd draft and ready to go to editing yet again. I created my website to start blogging about the story and the book, and my writing experiences are broadening quickly. Recently, I was fortunate to have author Dani Shapiro ask me to be interviewed on her Podcast series, Family Secrets.
Since attending the IWWG summer conference at Muhlenberg, my life has taken on a totally different direction than I ever dreamed.
Laura L. Engel
Originally from Biloxi, Mississippi, Laura has lived in Southern California for 49 years. She and her husband, Gene are the proud parents of six grown children and their spouses. They are delighted to be “Grammy and PaPa” to nine exceptional grandchildren.
Recently retired after 35 years as a regional sales representative for a national title insurance company, Laura left the corporate world and plunged headlong into her second unexpected career as a writer in 2017.
She has completed the Memoir Writing Certificate Program at the Ink Spot in San Diego and currently serves as President of the San Diego Memoir Writers Association. She has won a place in the San Diego Memoir Showcase twice with scenes from her memoir. Her scene Secret Son was published in the anthology Shaking The Tree in 2018. Along with SDMWA, Laura is also a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, Thought Writers Who Write in San Diego, and Writers Ink.
Laura’s memoir in progress is You’ll Forget This Ever Happened ..The Story of a Mother’s
Love and Secret She Never Forgot.