Monday, September 22, 2014

'Slice of your life' gives feast of memoirs

THE often quarrelsome relationships between dog and cat seem to set a style for other branches of the animal kingdom.
In many cases of canine-feline coexistence, each appears to hate the other other with a passion, fighting over food and territory, and often having a nip or swipe at the other for no clear reason.
In the human world, journalists and teachers may behave in a similar manner, blaming each other for the perceived drop in literary standards among the younger generations.
With a little apprehension and bated breath I fronted up this week to interview a retired teacher about writing, and was relieved when Rowena James, despite devoting her life to lifting English standards, proved to be not only a gentle critic but also an inspirational one.

ROWENA's early retirement last year must have meant a sad loss to the teaching profession as she enjoys sharing her deep knowledge and understanding about writing, and  can do it with an endearing sense of humour that must have helped her students remember their lessons.
After three decades teaching in south-east Queensland high schools and holding four positions as deputy principal, Rowena now lives at Victoria Point, enjoying walks with her beloved Pomeranian, Max.
“When I retired I felt lost,” she said. “I had brought up my kids as a sole parent and they had left home.
“I had worked all my life but the job had gone and all my friends had been connected with the job.”
Rowena said she had joined the Victoria Point Library book club for something to do, and “I haven't looked back − opportunities I hadn't dreamed of have opened up”.

ONE of those opportunities has been the RedWrites Memoir Group (Redland City Bulletin, Public Notices, August 13) ), which offers “peer to peer critiquing”, welcomes beginners and undoubtedly benefits from Rowena's experience.
Rowena has already written about 100,000 words of her memoir and is ready with tips to help those who feel they need it.
“People may need encouragement to tell their story,” she said. “A lot aren't very confident, but there is a lot to be gained from telling your own story.
“I have learnt a lot about myself.”
She said a memoir was not the full story, as an autobiography might aim to tell, but rather was “just a slice of your life”, making it an easier writing project.
The notice advertised a memoir workshop at the library today (August 20) from 2pm to 4pm − with more on the third Wednesday each month. The writers' group, RedWrites Redlands, meets at Capalaba Community Centre on the first Tuesday each month.

This column has appeared in The Redland City Bulletin.

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