I love reading articles and books about writing. I have four entire shelves of writers' memoirs and writing how-to books. Maybe I read so many of them because I'm still trying to figure out where I fit in the world of writing.
Lately, I've been reading INSPIRE! WRITING FROM THE SOUL by Linda C. Apple. Linda has written many stories for the CHICKEN SOUP series. I love the CHICKEN SOUP books. I've found inspiration and comfort in the stories, and judging by the popularity of the series, so have many other people.
When I heard that Linda Apple had written a how-to book about writing for the inspirational market, I had to have it. The book is a combination of writing exercises, marketing information, and the author's personal revelations about how she came to write inspirational stories.
One exercise I've been working on asks, "What is your landscape?" (p.23). To find the landscapes of your life, begin by listing the influential people and events in your life. Then make a separate sheet for each item. Each day, choose one (event or person) and list every memory that comes to mind. This excercise is similar to the Nancy Atwell's writing territories exercise I use to help my middle school students find meaningful writing topics, but the questions are a bit more guided.
I was surprised by the things I remembered when I listed my "landscapes." I wrote a poem, "Thrity-Two Cents" about an event I had forgotten for many years. At first, I worried the poem would give a negative impression of my mother and wasn't sure if I should post it on my blog. But, this quote from the book, "We cannot change the pain of the past, but we can give health to the future," reminded me that by telling our stories, we might help someone else, help ourselves understand the experience better, and make peace with the past.
What I like most about INSPIRE! is its encouraging tone, the writing exercises, and the marketing tips. One of my writing goals has always been to write something that would help and inspire others. I don't know if I can do that, but I'd like to try. I need to work on the "landscapes" exercise a bit more to find out if the inspirational market might be right for me.