Manual Writing Your Self: Transforming personal material

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By example as well as explanation the authors reinforce what we all intuitively understand to be true: that telling stories preserves identity and clarifies the human condition. It helps us understand what it means to be human. The experience of working through the book was something like a rite of passage. Extracts from a review by Rose Flint:. I have worked as a writer in healthcare for many years now, getting people to tell their personal stories, to re-member themselves when they are lost in the wilds of institutions or illness, or to discover the gentlest of dream landscapes that can hold them safely when their lives are in pieces.

We all live with an everyday formulation of language but to find new ways to use words can be potentially very healing and lead to the creation of art that speaks directly to many people, sharing experience as wisdom and sometimes beauty. John Killick and Myra Schneider's fine new book 'Writing Your Self,' takes an in-depth look at how writers themselves chose to use the material of their own lives to make art, to communicate their own self-knowledge and transform experience through words.

Both the authors also contribute their own stories with characteristic generosity.

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The writers here, are often nakedly clear, not just about what happened to them and how they felt, but the tricks they played with themselves to avoid confrontation, the methods they used to find control, the time it took - the years. It makes compelling, sometimes overwhelming reading and consistently offers insights into the writer's craft. So much courage is here.

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And the responsibility to state how life is - messy, terrifying, full of death perhaps - but also transcendent. Miriam Hastings says: "I do think its important to stress that creative writing can be beneficial and healing even when it isn't directly autobiographical.

In my personal experience I've found it can not only transform our writing, it can also transform our lives and selves. Rose Flint is a poet and art therapist who works with poetry in healthcare. From two respected authors and personal tutors comes a comprehensive resource bringing fresh ideas and inspirational practical advice on how to set about unlocking, working with and transforming personal material.

Writing Your Self is formed of two parts. Part II sets out practical exercises and examples, from tips on Getting Started through chapters on accessing personal detail and how to fictionalise, transform and build this into completed work. Particularly helpful is the distinction made between raw and finished writing, the validity of each stage being discussed with suggestions on how to progress. Writing Your Self is dynamic and participatory. It engages and stimulates in its discussion and treatment of subjective experience and is a book designed to inspire and expand writers' thoughts in ways both subtle and challenging.

Focussed on encouraging self-discovery through to the different forms of expression this might ultimately take memoirs, poems, journals, stories or eventual novels , it's a valuable and rewarding resource, sensitive as it is thorough in the nurture of evolutionary personal work. Informal comments:.

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The examples are powerful and well chosen. The book as a whole is authoritative, compassionate and utterly convincing. New writers and not-so-new writers will have a sense of being taken by the hand and guided by wise friends. I now need to pass it on to the staff who teach poetry and life writing, so they can get it on their book lists and into our library. I hope it does very, very well. It seems to me one of those rare books with an almost unimaginable shelf life and world wide relevance.

May it flourish! Barbara Large, founder and director of the Winchester Writers' Conference. Beautifully produced, and written with such clarity and sensitivity. It's an excellent poetic and therapeutic aid, and you and John have generously given so much of yourselves in the writing of it. I am so glad I looked at the attachment to this tweet! I write a regular magazine column, facebook page with fans in 5 months and a blog but the thought of a book is so massive to me, know now that I am not alone! Perhaps I will put pen to paper sooner than I thought.

Thank you Susan. Susan, What a powerful, motivating post! This is one of the best things I have read this week. Thank you! I read this post with much interest. I write non-fiction about insurance.

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After 24 years, it is what I know. I have already published a couple of e-books on insurance matters for Baby Boomers. I am currently working on a third one. I hope to get a couple more topics done next year so that I can combine all of them into one big reference manual.

Writing Your Self: Transforming Personal Material

I did, however, want to let you know that I am one of the nerds who do check out who the publisher is for a book. Some publishing houses cater more to my tastes than others.

If you are contemplating going the traditional route than you should pay attention to who is publishing what. For some markets it makes a difference. For example, I was talking to a lawyer the other day. For him, having his book published by the Bar Association was a huge deal. It matters for that crowd. The expense can be mitigated to some degree by being smart about hiring freelancers and publishing the book through your own company vs. Am in that phase of getting enough money together. It is true that self-publishing my chosen route will cost money!

I paid them thousands of dollars and have gained nothing in return. Good luck. Three books! You could try Kindle publishing first. Then if your audience wants it, move into print once you have the funds for it.


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Subsidy publishing is rarely a good idea if you want to make any money or gain credibility from your book. Congrats on taking control of your books! My experience echoes a couple of your points. First, when I was trying to figure out whether to go with a publisher or the self-publishing route, several people who had books published told me to self-publish. Another said the process just takes a ridiculously long time — a year and a half or more. I ended up going with a small, niche publisher and my one major argument in favor of that course is having a tough editor to work over your manuscript.

It helped improve my book immensely. So, as you said, even if you decide to self-publish, hire a good editor.

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Especially if you plan on charging people for the book. Finally, my experience has been the opposite of what others have found. Hi Rob…you are absolutely right. Having an editor is vital, no matter how you opt to publish. Re: blog to book vs. Thank you for an inspirational piece.

Lots of great ideas there, particularly regarding the thought leadership aspect of publishing. Despite nodding his head enthusiastically during the exchange, he was never going to run back home and do a search on the topic. For him, there were no authority figures online that would deliver his information in the way he wants it.

Thankfully, my publisher agreed to part with some dead tree cash to create a dead tree book that helps dead wood floaters dip their toe in the blogging waters.