Writing for Adults
The first adult writing class that I took after I retired was led by author of A Man Comes from Someplace, Judith Pearl Summerfield, who often referred to travels her father made at different points of his life. I couldn't imagine writing my own family history because i didn't know enough.
I was fortunate to also meet a lovely pediatrician at the same time who asked me to write down the story of her husband's life and hers in Russia so that her children and grandchildren would know about their experiences. Then I began to meet more seniors at the gym and on the train who wanted to share their stories with me.
After the class had ended, I took the teeniest snippet of my own paternal grandmother's story, the part about the missing steamship tickets and fictionalized the rest to write my women's fiction novel.
In my story, a young woman having never received a steamship ticket that her fiance sent, makes the perilous journey from her shtetl outside Lviv to New York to find him, before he marries a neighbor, who betrayed her and her family in the old country, and in doing so must learn to be an independent woman despite the limitations of her hand that was crushed in a childhood accident,
How I Started
I started taking courses at The Writing Institute of Sarah Lawrence and Scarsdale Library's Writing Center. I'd never been in writing groups as an adult although I taught children to write for many years. It was wonderful to work with many interesting adults of all ages. I learned to critique other people's work first saying something positive that I liked about what the piece, then something that needed a little work, and finally wrapping things up with something else positive. I wrote, published a little, and participated in public readings. The writers I met and the readings hooked me.
Always worried that when I retired it would be hard to meet people, but that wasn't the case. Over the past six years I've made many wonderful friends who just happen to be writers. Some of the groups I've been in started as courses and when the class ended, the members decided to continue meeting on their own. I follow particular instructors so that I can continue writing with them. I'm very happy to be part of the writing community and try to help other writers as people have helped me.
Sometimes I use a prompt, object, or image to start writing. For a recent piece I wrote about a recently purchased vegetable peeler and a book store display to connect with the topic.
Whenever I write, I always need to research something. When I was researching my historical fiction novel, I had questions about pogroms, immigration, whether a woman could drive a wagon in a shtetl, styles of dress, what homes looked like, steamships that navigated the Hudson River, early Kingston, fire call boxes, kosher bakeries, water chestnut seedpods, and hand injuries to mention a few. I read lots of books and articles and consulted with professors from colleges and even my orthopedist. I kept falling down one rabbit hole after another. The experience was exhilarating!
Member of Women's Fiction Writers of America (WFWA).