By Maureen Murdock
Now more than ever before we need women’s voices in print. As we weather this health crisis together it will be the stories of wise women that will inform and sustain us. Your memories of this time will be the stories we tell future generations.
A memoir focuses on the events of an individual’s personal memory but to be a successful memoir, the writing has to be grounded within the context of historical time, place, gender, culture, generation and current events. It has to have an element of universality. Memoir has expanded from a focus on a sole personal issue to a discovery of how it resonates within a culture.
At present women are writing about real life concerns navigating the reality of the coronavirus. Mariah Mitchell, a single mother in Seattle, invites us into her life as a driver for Lyft:
“Gig work has kept me alive, but it’s a lot of hours for pay of next to nothing. Some days, I have to work 16 hours to make ends meet. And that was before the coronavirus. . . In a way, gig workers are acting as first responders — making sure people can go to the doctor, and get food and supplies if they need to stay home. When you support gig workers, you’re doing the same for our community.”
I would not have known how her struggles impact the entire community had she not written this Opinion piece for the NY Times.
A self-employed writer, Olivia Judson, writes about how she is coping with the challenge of loneliness in self-isolation. “My personal demon is loneliness. After a day of struggling with a book chapter, a process that can feel like mud-wrestling a giant squid, the lack of company can leave me awfully bleak. That’s why I joined a virtual co-working group on Zoom.”
What gives Judson solace is having a scheduled meeting time with others online and the camaraderie of other writers wrestling their own squids.
College teacher Wendy Lukomski reminds us about the emotional cost of on-line teaching for both her students and herself. “Online teaching can offer a solid alternative to people unable to attend classes in person, and the tools of online teaching can be used to enhance real class time, but it cannot replicate the teacher-student bond, nor can it nurture the deep relationships formed among students.”
I am sure other students and teachers would echo her words.
I have been collecting women’s voices in Letters to the Editor ever since a writer asked why there are so few women published in the Letters of The New York Times. Since then, there’s been an outbreak of women’s wisdom published on Op/Eds and Letters. You too could write your life. Join me on May 12th to use your memories to write to the world. http://www.iwwg.wildapricot.org/world
Maureen Murdock, Ph.D. is the author of the best-selling book, The Heroine’s Journey, the 30th anniversary edition of which will be released this summer. This groundbreaking book has been translated into thirteen languages and a documentary entitled Women of Heart is forthcoming about the impact of her work on Australian women.
Maureen is also author of Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory; Fathers’ Daughters: Breaking the Ties that Bind, Spinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery with Children; and The Heroine’s Journey Workbook. Maureen teaches memoir writing in Pacifica Graduate Institute’s program, Writing Down the Soul, and has taught in UCLA Writers Program for 30 years. www.maureenmurdock.com