B. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of WriterAdvice, a place that not only promotes authors through its interviews but also publishes both experienced and emerging writers, showcasing fresh ideas and high quality writing.
Shelagh: Please tell us a little about yourself, Lynn.
Lynn: I’m a freelance writer, editor, teacher, former caregiver, and the author of You Want Me To Do What? – Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing). I’m published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; The Oakland Tribune; The Contra Costa Times; The Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You’re Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career, We Care, Caregiving, and Self-Care NCDA Monograph; Families of Loved Ones Magazine; The Sun Magazine (forthcoming) and numerous e-zines. I facilitate journaling workshops, teach for Story Circle Network, and publish Writer Advice
Shelagh: When did you first begin writing?
Lynn: I wrote an article about high school auditions for Dramatics Magazine, and that led to a series of articles called “Dear Diary” that recorded activities in a drama class from the point of view of a student.
Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Lynn: When I started Writer Advice, long before it was an e-zine at www.writeradvice.com, I needed a place to publish author interviews. I sought those interviews because I wanted to learn the secrets of skilled, published writers. This was before I understood that each of us has our own individual voice and our own unique story to tell. Teaching high school English taught me the formula for the five-paragraph essay. I have never found one formula for effective creative writing but I’ve had a wonderful time sharing the knowledge and experience of others with Writer Advice’s audience.
Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Those who have tried it love it, and Sharon Bray, the author of When Words Heal: Writing Your Way Through Cancer has said, “As someone steeped in the therapeutic value of writing during pain and loss, I think B. Lynn Goodwin’s book meets a need that has yet to be addressed.”
The book is stand-alone, and it is how-to meets self-help.
Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?
Lynn: Everyone has great stories to tell and journaling heals, whether you know you are a writer or not.
Shelagh: What do you say to those who don’t want to write?
Lynn: First of all, you need to know that this is not the kind of writing you did in school. No one cares how you spell or punctuate. There is something about the process of putting pen to paper that helps people process whatever is troubling them. As soon as you begin processing, you’ll hit deeper levels and find your truths. Hope will emerge.
If you still don’t want to write, record your truths. Take any sentence start from YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? JOURNALING FOR CAREGIVERS and start talking into a tape recorder. You or a trusted friend can transcribe what you like and let the rest go, if you want to.
Shelagh: What do you say to former caregivers who wonder why they couldn’t find the book when they needed it?
Lynn: The relationship continues even when your loved one is gone. You have both stories and perspective, so start writing now. What you have to share is a gift to others. To quote Pat Schneider, the author of WRITING ALONE AND WITH OTHERS: “If you do not record your own story, your tiny bit of the history of the human race is lost. Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s vision. Dickinson wrote Dickinson’s. Who will write yours if you do not?”
Shelagh: Why did you direct the book to caregivers instead of everyone?
Lynn: I used to believe the book was for those who cared for a spouse, parent, or special needs child. I knew it was a niche book.
After I signed my contract I began my e-mail workshops I discovered teachers, nurses, social workers, and everyone in the caring professions is a caregiver. Professional caregivers as well as family caregivers need this book.
Then the economy collapsed and all kinds of people became caregivers to themselves. I now realize that everyone is a caregiver for someone. Certainly, if you are a writer you need to take care of yourself before you can help anyone else.
Shelagh: Can’t people just get a blank notebook and write on their own?
Lynn: Of course they can, but most people won’t. Who wants to face the blank page when you are already stressed, angry, and filled with frustration? It’s so much easier to finish someone else’s sentences, and that’s what these sentence-starts let you do.
Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Lynn: I cared for my mother for six years while she struggled with undiagnosed Alzheimer’s. During this time my outlet was my journal. Whether I wrote three sentences or three pages, journaling eased my frustrations and fears.
Sometimes my journaling includes lists. I use lists to brainstorm, imagine, and even start reviews for Writer Advice. My “To Do” lists are classic examples of so-much-work-so-little-time. When I put any of my truths on paper, I start seeing myself differently.
Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.
Lynn: I don’t know which review is best, but this is excerpted from the most recent one. It originally appeared at www.storycirclebookreviews.org:
What sets Goodwin’s book apart is that it functions as a journal. Each of the core chapters contains approximately twenty-five pages of sentence prompts: “The truth is…”; “Today, I don’t want…”; “I usually don’t talk about…” Each prompt is followed by space for the caregiver to finish the sentence and continue the journal entry….
“Prompts are carefully sequenced. In line with Goodwin’s advice to “start where you are,” the caregiver begins with “Thoughts About Me,” and then moves outward to “Thoughts About Caregiving,” and “Thoughts About the One I Care For.” Prompts allow the writer to describe challenges (“I feel burned out when…” ) as well as joys and rewards (“Today my best moments are…” )…
“You Want Me to Do What? is a small but powerful book. Telling the truth is hard. People in conflict, those on the edge of burn-out, may read about the healing power of writing but fail to follow through. Goodwin, by using a “workbook” format, provides an automatic transition from theory to practice, from reading to writing. It is exactly the right book for its target audience.”
Shelagh: What are your current projects?
Lynn: In addition to promoting the book, I am running Writer Advice’s Fifth Annual Flash Prose Contest (details at http://www.writeradvice.com–deadline April 15, 20100, preparing the spring issue of Writer Advice, teaching for Story Circle Network, teaching an independent class called Journaling: Gateway to Self- Discovery, and writing a column on Senior Living and news articles for DanvillePatch.com which will launch at the end of February.
Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Lynn: Visit www.writeradvice.com to read my e-zine. Click on “Journaling for Caregivers” to learn more about the book. The best way to find out about current events and classes is to join my mailing list. Send an e-mail to Lgood67334 AT comcast DOT net. I’d be delighted to hear from any of you.
Shelagh: Thank you for joining us today, Lynn.
Lynn: Thanks for the opportunity.