Recently I received an email from an author friend Mary Ann Mhina inviting me to take part in a writer’s blogging tour. Intuitively I said yes although I wasn’t sure why until I explored the questions below and recognised the invitation as a gift. Having published my first book The Tao of Storytelling – 30 Ways to Create Empowering Stories to Live By in November 2013, I’ve been mulling around ideas for my next book. Being asked to write about what I’m working on has encourage me to become more clear on this next step in authorship. Thanks Mary Ann for your writer’s process blog and inviting me to get onboard!
So back to the job at hand – answering the four questions below;
What am I working on?
Well firstly I’m working on my mission to bring storytelling into business with The Story Mill a company which I co-founded with my husband David and on our digital storytelling business Glass Slipper Digital too.
I’m still promoting The Tao of Storytelling, which encourages people to discover the treasure in their own stories. I’m also writing a new book, also on storytelling however it has a broader context than The Tao of Storytelling. The new book is about my search for a way of living that is sustainable and shows how changing the stories I had about about my relationship with my father has been key to that. It chronicles the relationship between my father and I and the context of that relationship in terms of the family history and the cultural, social, economic and political contexts that influenced it. It is a story that moves from anger, guilt and being stuck to one of forgiveness, freedom and love.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I described The Tao of Storytelling as a wisdom memoir, thereby creating a new genre. That’s because I didn’t want to trot out salacious tales of who did what to whom, despite the success of a generation of misery memoirs that was popularized in 1990’s by Frank McCourt’s infamous Angela’s Ashes. All due respect to his superb writing and storytelling skills, however, that style simply didn’t ring true for me – so I coined the phrase ‘wisdom memoir’ for The Tao of Storytelling. The new book that I’m working on is my 2nd wisdom memoir.
Why do I write what I do?
Firstly it’s important to say that I’ve loved writing since I was a little girl at school and even the smell of a book has always been like literary gravy. I enjoy the writing journey – it connects me to my creativity and gets me into flow with the writing at hand and with life in general. It’s easy to become disconnected and dissociated in a world that is so busy, so fast moving especially in corporate organisations with which I’ve worked for many years building brands and leading teams. Writing brings me back into a more connected, creative, joyful, loving place within myself. Writing is a transformational journey for me and often profoundly healing. I’m not the same woman at the end of a book or a piece of writing as I was at the beginning of it. The bonus is to find that I have a completed book to share with the world what I’ve gleaned on my journey.
How does my writing process work?
The Tao of Storytelling – began as a blog of stories that I wrote for sheer pleasure. People seemed to resonate and feel uplifted by them. Eventually folk were asking if there would be a book and so it was that I published The Tao of Storytelling in 2013. While writing the stories initially, I was in a delicious creative flow. However during the editing stage I focused on ensuring that my creativity would be meaningful for the reader. It was during that stage that the questions to enable readers to discover their own treasure emerged as well as articulating certain aspects of the stories to ensure that they would resonate. Since publication I have been thrilled to receive some wonderful communications from people who have read The Tao of Storytelling, sharing how the stories have touched their hearts and inspired them.
With the new book I have begun quite differently – by mapping ideas. It’s an emergent process and important to create space and time to allow the creativity to flow. It’s a combination of sitting down intentionally to work on the book and also being ready to capture ideas which come to me in the most unexpected places. So I have an unlined notebook and coloured pens to jot down the spontaneous wisdom that comes from the muses.
The places that I like to write are varied, sometimes at home in my office that overlooks the Oxfordshire fields and trees. Café’s are a favourite place to write and the right ambience is essential – cosy, quaint, big fireplaces, tranquil gardens all make for delightful places to write.
Ultimately having the time and space to write is a gift that I treasure. Often it’s a matter of simply making time because like most writers there are many other things to be done during the day. Thankfully I find it energizing and delightful and I’m thrilled when my readers enjoy the results.
Now, I’d like to introduce you to two great writers who will take up the baton to articulate their writing processes.
Nerina Ramlakhan is a writer, business consultant, sleep therapist and compulsive bookworm. She has been helping people to live their lives with greater vitality, balance and happiness for over 20 years. Her first and foremost passion has always been writing and she dared to publish her first book ‘Tired But Wired’ in June 2010.
Nerina shares her monthly blogs on www.drnerinamuses.com. Her deepest intention in writing these pieces is to impart immensely practical wisdom and bring inspiration to all who read them. She lives what she teaches and is passionate about making a difference. She is currently writing her second book. Further details of her work can be found on www.drnerina.com.
Here’s how my comedy writing was described by one of my mentors, Peter Vincent – a top comedy writer:
“The creativity is wild and imaginative – funny – sophisticated….the author is a natural writer….I wish I’d written some of those switches and insults!”
I’ve wanted to be a writer since childhood – following in the footsteps of my Mother, an award winning am dram playwright. I found I had natural comic timing as an am dram actress and I was always asked to write and perform the corporate cabarets. I emerged professionally over 20 years ago as my alter ego Iona Jette writing and performing comedy monologues. My most recent one was performed at Brighton Festival in 2013.
My performance poetry emerged as a result of one of my coaches encouraging me to be more like Shakespeare! Comedy poetry was added to the monologues and at about the same time I learnt the craft of stand up comedy and added that to my repertoire as a writer and performer. My own voice as a performance poetry only emerged fairly recently, but always with some element of humour. I’m writing a series of books – my life’s work – about my creative coaching which includes a novella written as a fable. There’s a sitcom in its umpteenth rewrite after a rejection which I hope to finish soon. At the moment I’m focused on publishing and recording my collection of performance poetry whilst I consider my next step on stage with my comedy monologues. www.shoutthesun.co.uk