So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label Writing Life Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writing Life Stories. Show all posts

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Writing and Writers

Back row: Roger Carlson and MC Brooks
Front row: Dottie Wershing, Carol Gladders and Brenda Kay Ledford

In the photo above you see five of the eight students who were enrolled in my memoir writing class this fall at Tri-County Community College in Murphy, NC

Four of these students have taken my classes several times. It is inspiring to see the improvement each has made since that first class. Two of them published this summer. Roger submitted an op-ed piece to his local newspaper and it was accepted. MC Brooks submitted one of her family stories to an anthology, It's All Relative, Tales from the Tree, edited by Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham. You can find MC's personal narrative on page 29. 

In this class all students were intermediate or advanced. When students come back again and again to take my classes, I consider it a great compliment to my skills and my ability to help them enjoy learning. I was once told that one of my greatest talents was creating an environment of safety and comfort that enabled new writers to share their poems or stories without fear. 

I know that is important because I have been that new writer, that new poet, who felt terrified when asked to read my work out loud to a group. I have been that person who was not sure if my writing had any promise. Sharing writing is a bit like handing off your first-born to a stranger and hoping he will handle her with love and care. 

I also know that even the most experienced, published writer still sweats out each new submission whether it is a short story or a manuscript for a book. No one wants to face rejection. Once I learned that, I became much stronger when faced with rejection of my work. We have to know that an editor's rejection is not personal and we must not have our feelings hurt. The rejection is probably because the work doesn't fit the editor or publisher's needs at the time. 

A beginning writer faces the challenge of submitting work with no previous publications on his resume'. He hopes an editor will read his story or essay and like  it enough to give him a chance. Today we hear that editors Google a writer's name first to  see if he has anything online that shows the editor that he will bring readers to the publication. That seems unfair. 

Some publishers, however, say they don't want to know what you have published, they want your writing to impress them and if it does,  it will be accepted. I wonder if that is the exception.

We write because we love it and sometimes because we can't not write. I know excellent writers and poets who don't care about seeing their work in a book other than for their family. Whether we publish our work or write for our own satisfaction, we write. But to have our work read and appreciated by other people is the goal of most writers. I hope to communicate with readers whether in my family essays, short stories, poetry or on this blog. 

I appreciate your reading my posts. I hope you enjoy them and I love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment or send an email.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Beginning in March, Glenda Beall teaches writing class at TCCC

Glenda  Beall teaches at TCCC in March
Title: Write Your Life Stories for Your Family or for Publishing
Location: Tri-County Community College, in Murphy, NC.
The dates:Tuesday afternoons, 6 - 8 p.m. March 24, 31 and April 7 and 14. 

I have taught adults to write stories about their lives for a number of years. The stories are often written for grandchildren or other family because the writer wants to leave a legacy of what life was like before cell phones, before computers and video games, before families were too busy and before they were scattered all over the country and around the world. The writer might want to tell about his family history for generations before him. 

Each of us has a unique story, and in this class the student will learn
  • where to begin
  • how to begin
  • how to organize your work
  • what to write and what not to write
  • how to write so that your audience will want to read your stories
Each student will have several stories completed and written by the end of the course in an entertaining and interesting form. Each student will carry home a number of tools he/she can use in the future. If you have studied  with me in the past, you will not be bored. We will have new exercises and new topics to explore.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June Peacock and her book is Window in the Wall.

What a nice day I had with my friend Dot who accompanied me to City Lights bookstore in Sylva, NC where a delightful woman spoke and read small parts of her memoir. She is one of those seniors who have had an interesting and good life. She began her memoir when she was 89 years old. Now, this lady is not your ordinary elderly lady. She said her son told her ten years ago that she was in her dotage. Now she says he tells her she is in her post-dotage. She was funny and quite personable. The room was packed and everyone enjoyed this lovely lady. She encouraged all older people to write about their lives for their families. 

Her name is June Peacock and her book is Window in the Wall. June doesn’t type so she recorded or dictated her words for someone else to type.The book was written in response to a request from her daughter who gave her explicit guidelines to go by.
It was to be for her family, and will be treasured by each. However, it reaches beyond simple life experiences to be shared with family into the depths of struggle, reinvention, and joy that speak to the resilience of the human spirit. For all who read this, there is an honesty that will encourage each of us to seek a full and meaningful life, to welcome and accept new challenges of creativity and reflection, to look forward to the future, no matter our age. 

She was the first woman stock broker in Florida and one of only three women brokers in the country. She said she had what they were looking for when she got the job. She was a woman. At that time the feminists had prevailed and their demand for equal rights for women paid off for June. 

She lives in Raleigh in the winter and in her cove in the mountains of western North Carolina in the summer. She is not frail and seems to have all her faculties in good shape. I enjoyed speaking with June and look forward to reading her book. Oh, by the way, she said her 80th birthday was twelve years ago. 

To reserve a copy of her book, please call City Lights Bookstore at 828-586-9499. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Tri-County Community College, Murphy, NC

Beginning June 5 - a six week course meeting on
Tuesdays, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.  Fee: $40.00

Writing your Life Stories

To register, contact Lisa Thompson Long at 828- 835-4296 at the Community Enrichment Center at Tri-County Community College

Call Instructor, Glenda Beall @ 828-389-4441 
email: for questions.

Beginning writers and intermediate writers are encouraged to take this class to learn better writing techniques. More advanced writers will find motivation to beat writers block, revise work you've shelved for awhile, and will simply have fun working with other writers. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What do you fear? Do you have Phobias?

Do you have fears, irrational fears? Do you fear something you have never told anyone about?
What about a phobia? Do you check the doors several times at night before  you can fall asleep?
Read my post on Writing Life Stories.
Let me hear what you are afraid of or what made you scared when you were a child.
Click on the link above and leave your thoughts at the comment section.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Renaissance Rebecca posts about Your Life -- Your Stories

Writing at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC  is an experience that can change your life. Tonight I read a post on a blog by a former student, Rebecca. She tells about her experience at the folk school and how the writing class she took there made a difference in her life. That is all a teacher can ask, to make a positive difference in the lives of their students. Rebecca gave me permission to post the following on our Netwest Writers blog in 2010.  I'm sure she won't mind having it published again here, in an abbreviated form.
From Renaissance Rebecca:
On Christmas morning when I was seven, I received my first diary. An avid reader, I loved the idea of writing down my own personal thoughts and what transpired during my days.

I never intended anyone to read the words I had written. But my siblings apparently thought I had something juicy in there. I had to change the hiding spot often so my siblings wouldn’t steal it.
Twenty-six years later, stored in my parents barn, is a twenty-two gallon plastic container filled with years of my thoughts. Despite all these words written, I never considered myself a writer. Though I didn’t know the technical definition of a writer, in general I figured that they wanted their words to be read. I didn’t. Upon reading The Diary of Anne Frank, I felt such pity for the girl – she was just writing in her diary and someone thought it a good idea to publish it for all the world to read! I was sure that wasn’t her intention. I was so sure, in fact, that I wrote in the front of my diary that year that I did not want mine to be published ever. But that the guilty sister who always stole it could have the honor of reading it upon my death.

No, I never intended my words to be read. So when I found the John C. Campbell Folk School in the book “100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life,” I wanted to take a blacksmithing course. When the catalog came, I skipped over any writing courses. I realized there was one week in March that was a perfect time for me to go, so I flipped to see what courses were being offered that month. The last one was “Your Life. Your Stories.” Hmm. I loved our family stories. And would love to get them down on paper. They said beginners were welcome. I never in my life thought I’d sign up for a writing class, but it was the one of most interesting to me on the page of courses being offered that week in March.

My fear that I’d be accused of being too young, of not having lived long enough to have anything to write about only proved partially true. I wasn’t the youngest – at 31, I was the second youngest in our class of eight. And though no one said anything, I later found out that the woman who would become the most inspirational to me had her doubts about us younger girls when she first saw us. She held her tongue on that, but thankfully spilled out her words of wisdom to us over the next five days.

When the youngest student in our class confessed to having a blog, we all asked if she could show us how to set one up. And here’s the great thing about the John C. Campbell Folk School – the teachers modify things to fit student requests. So all of us gathered around our fellow student’s computer one evening and she gave us an introductory blog lesson.

And here I sit, writing for anyone in the world to read. This is what I love about life. That you can change – or don’t have to. And it’s your choice. That you can say, “Never will I ever…” and then ten or fifteen or fifty years from now find yourself doing something you never said you’d do. All because of a book you picked up from the travel section at the bookstore.

photo by Ellen Andrews

Monday, June 13, 2011

Blogging and Hope Clark

I find Hope Clark to have the best advice of any blogger online. For instance, I went to her blog today and found a post from a while back. I needed this advice today.

While I enjoy blogging, I often get off the subject of writing. I was once told I should stay on topic in my blog. But I've decided it is MY blog and I write about my life and my writing and books I like and authors I like and classes I teach and students who make me proud and even rant sometimes about the world we live it.

But I do that more on Writing Life Stories than I do on Writers Circle. I hope you visit both blogs and that you will leave a comment or email me at

What do you look for when you surf around looking for something interesting online?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Change of Date for My Classes

If you are a regular reader, you will notice I changed my March classes to July. March, April and May have become too busy already.
The dates for my July classes will be announced later. Please visit often and let me hear from you if you are interested in taking classes at Writers Circle.

We are having a great time in our class at ICL. So many great stories to tell and such interesting people -- I love to go there on Monday afternoons. We have only two more classes, but the students are writing and finding interesting people and places in their lives to share on the page.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Five Ways to Get Started Writing Your Memoir

On Tuesday, June 12 and July 20 and August 24, we will hold classes for those who want to write creative non-fiction. (See Writing Classes on Home Page)
This genre includes memoir. Below I have a few tips for anyone who wants to write about her life, but has no idea where to begin.

List the events or dates that were turning points in your life, beginning with your birth
Examples: Birth, 1940; Elementary School 1946 -1950; Mom and Dad divorced;
University of GA – two years; Military years; Early Marriage, 1960 – 1970; Death of my Mother, 1975; My first job; Mary’s diagnosis; Don’s heart attack, 1987;

Label each File Folder with one of the life changing experiences or dates.

For each folder, make a list of things you remember that happened during this period of your life. Keep this list in the folder. Update the list as you remember more stories.

Research – Locate photographs, certificates, articles, letters, newspaper announcements, and diaries, anything that pertains to your memories. Stash these in proper folders.

For example, a photo of you at four would not go into your elementary school folder. A photo of your mom holding you as a baby would go into the Birth, 1940 folder.

Choose one folder with the most memorable events – Choose one memory from that folder that brings back images, smells, sounds, colors, or feelings you can express in your writing. Try to think about how you would tell that experience to your child or grandchild.

As you write your story, remember who you want to read your book. Is it for your family alone or do you want to publish it for a wider audience?
Remember, few of us write well enough or have a story of such magnitude, that New York Publishers will grab up our manuscript from the hundreds they receive every day. You can find many ways to self-publish your book without paying large sums of money, or you can pay a Print On Demand publisher.

On June 12, William V. Reynolds will lead a workshop on self-publishing at Writers Circle. You might want to take this class before you write your book.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Subscribe to this site and get me in your Inbox

Keep up with Writers Circle by subscribing to this blog. On the sidebar, you will see where you can subscribe by e-mail. Click on Subscribe by E-mail and you will receive, in your Inbox, each NEW Post we write.

Today I opened a Twitter account. That is something new for me, but with the help of my friend, Tipper of Blind Pig and the Acorn, I am now a Twitterer. Is that the way to say it? However, I'll not be writing things like, "I'm going to the drug store right now." "I am getting into my car." "I'm walking my dog."

When I post on Twitter, it will be something regarding my writing, teaching, or the work of my students, congratulations to a writer or friend, or perhaps where I'll be reading or signing books.

If you are on Twitter, look for me. I'm a novice so I don't even know how to follow anyone yet.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Memoir by Laura Bush impressed her daughters

Today I saw Laura Bush give an interview on television. I always admired her – the way she handled herself as first lady. Her daughters were on with her today, and they are certainly attractive and intelligent women.

Laura has written a memoir about her life and I want to read it. I am not a member of her husband’s party, but Laura seems to be a woman I’d enjoy knowing.

I was impressed when one of her girls said she had been reading the book and sobbed through most of it. She learned much about her grandparents that she did not know and she also learned much about her own mother who had not shared the details of her childhood.

This is why we should write about our lives for our children and grandchildren. We might think they have heard us tell our stories, but many times, the kids aren’t listening as carefully as we think.

Would your children cry if they read in your words what life was like at your house when you were five or ten years old. Would they see the image of you as a little girl or a little boy in clothes you wore back in the fifties or sixties?
If you write the story about an incident that made a big impression on your life and how you raised your kids, would your child cry or smile or have an Aha moment?

Laura Bush caused the death of a good friend in a car accident when she was seventeen. Her parents didn’t let her go to talk with the parents of her friend or even attend the funeral. They wanted to protect her. That event has been on her mind all these years and it had an affect on how she taught her children to face death of a friend or loved one.

All our lifetime experiences affect our future relationships and behaviors. As I have said before, we are a product of what has been written on our walls.

Are you writing about your life for your family? Just write a few pages each day and your family will cherish them when you are no longer here to tell the stories. How have events in your childhood contributed to your method of parenting or grand parenting?

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Because of the hacker or virus that spammed my past yahoo account, I have had to open a new account and start a new blog. I hope to bring my old blogs back, but if not, I'll start anew right here.
When Google blocked me from using my old email address they also blocked me from opening my blog Writing Life Stories, with Glenda Beall and because I can't use the old email address, I can't login to the Netwest Writers site either.
So, here we are anew. I have much to say because I attended the great poetry and essay contest awards dinner at Shoebootie's Restaurant in Murphy NC Tuesday night and was impressed with the winners, as always.
I will post pictures later with more details of the evening.
For now, it is good to get back to blogging.