The Growing Mind

Writing My Memoir & Emotional Growth


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Lucky to Receive Great Feedback!

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(416 words – less than 3 min read)

I feel lucky! I received great feedback on the first 20 pages of my story from friends and family members. I have signed up for a memoir workshop in October and the review of 20 pages of my story was part of the package I bought. I really wanted to have as much edit as I can to send a good quality draft for the professional reviews. There is no competition but I intended to provide a mature enough copy to get feedback about what I don’t know.

The honest feedback always  enriches the story, any story!

I received great questions about the story that answering them would cover the gaps that I didn’t know existed. I received great feedback on my grammatical mistakes and even spelling errors that have been corrected to the wrong word by Microsoft Word spell checker. I also received a very interesting feedback about my writing style! one of the reviewers kindly mentioned that my writing method follows the “stream-of-consciousness” technique.

I am learning to become a writer and this was a new door opened to me. I started searching about different techniques of writing and learned more about “stream-of-consciousness”. The reviewer was indeed correct! I did not know I have a writing style and it is very close to this method. According to the literalydevice.net “In literature, stream of consciousness is a method of narration that describes in words the flow of thoughts in the minds of the characters.” My writing describes the flow of my thoughts under different circumstances. I describe what I thought and how I felt for an event. I don’t have a chronological flow. When I write about an event, my writing takes me to flashbacks and flash-forwards, whatever the event reminds me and I write it right there. I searched and learned Virginia Woolf has used this style in her very popular book “Mrs. Dalloway”. I started listening to that story. I don’t have the writing capability that she had for sure but I can connect to the flow of her thoughts very smoothly. I am about to go and learn more about other literary styles and see what else is out there.

I truly enjoyed reading my feedback provided by my dear ones and incorporating them into my story. I am now really excited to send it out for professional reviews. This will be a turning point for the rest of the story as well. Every moment of this process is so precious!

Celebrate life!

Shabnam

Photo Credit: pixabay.com


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Our True-self

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(460 words – less than 3 min read)

I believe, when we show our true-self and connect through our true-self we always look beautiful.

I started reading the book “Presence” by Amy Cuddy recommended by a friend who has a deep understanding of life and amazing love for life.

The book is about Amy Cuddy’s years of research as well as others’ research studies on how our true-self can tell our true story and connect us with others positively. Her research shows our body language says our true story on occasions that we are either very ready for next step or not ready but try to convince ourselves and others that we are ready. Her research also shows how even when we are ready, the anxiety can cover us all over and stops us from moving forward and how we can practice self-belief and connect with our true-self to overcome the anxiety and present ourselves fully and truly.

Reading her book and every new book shows me a new dimension of life. Every new book gives me a deeper understanding of life. I am now looking at a lot of events in my life and in my story from a different angel. Were I present at the moment in each event? I try to add to or edit the story from this new angel, trying to explain when I did not present at all, when I did not present fully and when I presented truly. All those moments of either rejection or success have built my story and who I am now. But now I feel a big joy when I remember those moments that I offered my presence fully and truly to life.

By sharing fascinating experiences, Cuddy shows how we can practice to be present in the moment.   

I am so excited to finish this book. Every page of it gives me more hope for more inner-peace by learning how to be present at the moment and to be honest with myself. Here there is an excerpt from her book.

“Before heading into a situation where we may be challenged, we can reduce our anxiety by reaffirming the parts of our authentic best selves we value most.

When we feel safe with ourselves, we become significantly less defensive and more open to feedback, making us better problem solvers, too.” Amy Cuddy – Presence

Trusting life and outcomes of each event even the painful ones gives us more inner peace. It doesn’t mean we put up with nonsense or we don’t feel the pain, it purely means we believe in ourselves and use the power of authentic-self positively to make changes and to move forward. Changes are essential to our life. We need to welcome them and be present when they arrive!

 

Celebrate life!

Shabnam

Editing Credit: M. Curtis

Picture credit: pixabay.com


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We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

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(872 words – less than 5 min read)

I started feeling good about my English skills a couple of years ago. I felt I had a good vocabulary and I have always tried to communicate clearly. Since I did not hear a lot of “what did you mean?” from others, I felt I have been developing good English skills. I knew I had a long way to go and A LOT more to learn, but one thing I didn’t know I didn’t know was the correct structure of complex sentences. I did not know in a sentence, I was not using the independent clause and dependent clause in the order that a native English speaker would expect. It was not Farsi either. It was Shabnamified I guess??!!

I have signed up for a memoir writing conference in October. Since I registered as an early bird, I get to send 20 pages of my memoir for the panel review . I made a decision to send the first 20 pages of my memoir for their review. I asked my daughter and my husband to help with a thorough review/editing of the first 20 pages of my story, so I can send it for the expert review. I want to have as much editing as I can so I get a higher level feedback on my writing from them.

My daughter has developed very good English skills during her college years. When she started reviewing it, she noticed in a complex sentence, I use the independent and dependent clauses in the reverse order compared to what is expected in quality English writing.  Even realizing what part is dependent and what part is independent requires a deeper understanding of the language than I have.

When my husband Mike started his edits, I was shocked to see how he was restructuring the sentences. We needed to discuss each sentence before he restructured it to make sure the sentence still delivered my exact message. Since I am still learning English, I expected a lot of editing but this restructure was something in the dark zone of my brain; I had no idea about it. I felt confused. I did not even know how to express my confusion and what to say about it.

Me: Mike, do you think we need to restructure the sentences like this? I understand we are making sure it still conveys my message but was it wrong the way I had it?

Mike: Yes, a sentence should be in the correct order. I am thinking what message your reader would get by reading a sentence and making sure they understand what you really meant to say.

Me: But this way I don’t feel I am the author anymore. It feels like we both are the authors of this book. I want to be the author with my own voice.

Mike: No, you are still the author. I am only an editor. These are your thoughts and this is your story. you wrote it. But we need to make sure people understand it when they read it.

Me: But I don’t understand how you do it. I thought I always communicate clearly and people understood me. Maybe because English is not my native language, I would never understand it. Therefore I would never become a good writer.

Mike: Yes, you will. This is just a new concept. You just need time to understand it and practice it…..

Needless to say I was scared of this new unknown skill that I did not know about. I did not understand what he meant. I was just watching him coming up with a way better way of saying what I had written. I liked the way he changed it but I was pretty hopeless as to how I am going to learn this  unknown concept.

Well, I reminded myself this is only another challenge. I will get through it.

I am not supposed to know everything. While I am learning, I come across things that I don’t know I don’t know. I remind myself that my goal is to develop high quality writing skills. I just need to learn how to do it.

I started searching and learning about sentence structure and order. A new world opened up to me. I was surprised by how much information I got with a simple search in Google. Wow! There was another ocean of knowledge that I did not know exists. I felt hopeful again. I started making sense of that unknown concept. It started becoming tangible and learn-able. I have begun to pay attention to the structure of the sentences when I am reading books. I know it is a fundamental concept and will take time to learn since I learned a very different language growing up, but I know I can learn it!

I also made the decision to turn my weekly progress into weekly short stories instead of providing a report structure for my progress. I decided my progress each week can be a story. Everything I learn is related to one goal; writing my story. So from now on, my weekly progress updates will be presented in the format of a short story. This gives me an opportunity to practice creating a plot every week, too!

Celebrate life!

Shabnam

Editing Credit: M. Curtis

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com