Ever since she was a child, Linda Joy felt the power of the past. As the third daughter in her family to be abandoned or estranged by a mother, she observed the consequences of that heritage on the women she loved as well as herself. But thanks to the stories told to her by her great-grandmother, Myers received a gift that proved crucial in her life: the idea that everyone is a walking storybook, and that we all have within us the key to a deeper understanding of life–the secret stories that make themselves known even without words. Song of the Plains is a weaving of family history that starts in the Oklahoma plains and spans over forty years as Myers combs through dusty archives, family stories, and genealogy online. She discovers the secrets that help to explain the fractures in her family, and the ways in which her mother and grandmother found a way not only to survive the great challenges of their eras, but to thrive despite mental illness and abuse. She discovers how decisions made long ago broke her family apart–and she makes it her life’s work to change her family story from one of abuse and loss to one of finding and creating a new story of hope, forgiveness, healing, and love. Come with us on a sweep through the Midwest plains, on a wind that travels into our hearts, and through the other side of ourselves to form well-lived lives by understanding the undertow of our past, our ancestors, and even our younger selves. How do we liberate ourselves from these ghosts, while fully acknowledging their mark? Drop In with Linda Joy Myers to find out ~
Linda Joy Myers is president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers. Her memoir Don’t Call Me Mother—A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness was a finalist in the ForeWord Book of the Year Award, a finalist in the IndieExcellence Awards, and won the BAIPA Gold Medal award. She’s the author of three books on memoir writing: The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Journey of Memoir, and Becoming Whole. She’s a co-author with Brooke Warner of two books: Breaking Ground on Your Memoir and Magic of Memoir. Myers writes for the Huffington Post, and co-teaches the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months with Brooke Warner. A therapist for thirty-six years, Myers speaks about memoir, healing and the power of writing the truth. Linda offers private coaching for writers, and teaches ongoing new classes with Brooke Warner. Check out the Write Your Memoir in Six Months website for the latest offerings. She is passionate about spring flowers, her rose garden, grandchildren, and the power of healing to free us from the past.Leave a comment for radio show guests
What’s the story behind the story? We’ll find out on Dropping In. Our guests are today’s original thinkers. Conversations that spark new ways of seeing what’s going on. We bring it all to the table. Diverse perspectives, controversy, loving and singular voices. Magically stories reveal the common threads that link us. Experience the joys, the fist pumps, the detours and the hard-won truths of those who blaze the trail so that we might do the same and now here’s your host Diane Dewey.
Diane: Welcome to Dropping In everyone. It’s officially spring, redbuds, cactus, blossoms and green shoots are appearing and people are peeking out from under the covers. We can break free of restrictions from Covid and be outdoors again as in early childhood when riding our bikes might have been just the thing for being cooped up at home. Nature is a balm to our frustrations as our guest today Linda Joy Myers knows outside might be the safest place for kids when home is a threat. As a result the landscape we grow up in might just grow up inside of ourselves and maybe we can get outside of our past by telling our stories. Here to talk about it is Linda Joy Myers author of Song of the Plains and Don’t Call Me Mother, two memoirs published by She Writes Press and president of the National Association of Memoir Writers. Good morning. Welcome Linda.
Linda: Hi Diane. Thank you so much and I love your phrase about how landscape grows inside of us. That’s beautiful.
Diane: Well you did a great job of portraying that in your book. We’re going to toggle between your role as a character, an author, a teacher and a mentor. Your book Song of the Plains, I think really the sense of place became a dimension in your story. Now you talk about how you’ve reached a contented point in your life having written these two memoirs Don’t Call Me Mother, a daughter’s journey from abandonment to forgiveness which was a finalist for the Forward Book of the Year and finalists in the Indie Excellence Awards. It won a BAIPA gold medal award. These memoirs are not just groundbreaking they’re deeply personal and they’re really beacons for those of us looking for a way to become fearless within ourselves. You’ve written books on memoir, Breaking Ground on Your Memoir and The Magic of Memoir co-authored with Brooke Warner. You are a speaker and a coach for writers.
Maybe people who are listening or trying to figure out how to take those jotted notes down throughout their lives and build it into something the power of healing to free us from the past through writing but now you’ve reached a point where you’ve done all of this. You’ve reached a point where I feel as though there’s some contentedness. You live with your cats and your roses and all of these dimensions and roles in your life how would you describe yourself now at this point?
Linda: Well, yes I’m very contented and writing these memoirs which took many years over actually decades contributed to me settling in with. This is the story I lived and here it is through the eyes of a long, long perspective. What I find is that by putting things into words and getting them on the page and I think many writers find this too you stand back and you see yourself as the both the character and the narrator. It has this layers of distance and layers of seeing and being with everything that we’ve lived through but actually I’m very content but I’m also shaking things up.
I’m writing a novel about World War Two and yesterday despite my protestations to the contrary of I don’t think I have any more memoirs in me. I began jotting down some fragments of possible news stories. Things are always tugging at me to keep learning and keep doing this stuff. Let me tell you it’s hard to write a novel. I am just very curious about things and things tap me on the shoulder won’t leave me alone so there’s that too which is absolutely a blessing.
Diane: The restlessness, it’s wonderful. Well you’ve always been a kind of historian. You’re always digging around in the past and as Faulkner said, “The past is not dead. It’s not even the past.”
Linda: I know. I love that quote. Yes, I mean the fascinating thing is that history contains the future but we don’t know it when we’re living it. To be able to go back and the novel is definitely based on memoirs. I mean stimulated and inspired by true stories of what people actually did and how they saved people. I mean there’s a whole thread there. In the history that I explored, I explored through genealogy and diaries and various things. I mean I was always looking for the, I kept looking for clues like did my mother or my grandmother what were they thinking or what were they going through earlier in their lives that led indirectly or directly to some of the decisions they made later. We don’t really necessarily get full answers but I took it as far as I could. Like they say writing is about the questions not necessarily the answers.
Diane: And the clues. I mean I love that, the breadcrumbs that you’re following back to a path. You talk in Song of the Plains that there is this connection to England. Your mother frequently traveled to England as did you.
Linda: My grandmother did.
Diane: Your grandmother with whom you lived. I skipped a generation.
Linda: That is okay.
Diane: Your mom, your mother was very definitely not present. I would say abandoning. It turns out she had that as a constant in her life as well. You learned that your grandmother was equally as abandoning. You had to fight back to claim your own life and say I’m not that person which I think the strength of these books it really, I think it must have bolstered you but this place England, you went a number of times. Now you’ve got a granddaughter yourself Zoe Joy, your name. How do you explain these affinities and did the connection with England lead you to this novel about World War Two?
Linda: Wow, what a question. Yes, that’s a leap isn’t it? Well it’s my grandmother took me in when I was six and raised me because nobody else was doing that. I was in kind of bad shape by that time. She for many, many years she was this beacon of education. She was self-taught. She herself didn’t have a lot of formal education but she saw as a poor farm child that some people had different lives than the women around her and she decided she was gonna try to find that. As a woman does in, did in those days the way for a woman to advance was to marry up. She did that twice.
The second marriage landed her in Chicago with a man who had money and it was the thirties. She, I don’t know what, I think reading about English history probably made her want to go but I don’t actually know for sure. She made her first trip to England. Now when I grew up with her she was always talking about England. She was reading English literature. She had me reading English literature. Bless her. When I was eight years old I read Treasure Island. Kind of a tough book to get through at that age but she inspired me beyond this little town. She moved to a town in Oklahoma to live near her best friend in those years in the 50s raising me. She also talked about World War Two all the time. Now when I was growing up World War Two had just recently ended. I mean it ended in 45. As wars do they end slowly kind of. People readjust gradually to regular life and it had affected everybody in America too in a different way than Europe but she talked about it.
Then there was a program on PBS, well what became PBS Channel, the educational channel on World War Two. I saw when I was I think thirteen what is now called the series World at War. My grandmother would get up there and yell at the TV and yell at Roosevelt why didn’t we help Churchill more. We let them stand alone. She would get very worked up about these things. I was very curious. She was sort of, she and her friends that would talk about World War Two with the embodiment of having lived through something that I knew nothing about that they talked about it a lot. I became curious but the thing that got me all the way into researching World War Two for the last I don’t know 50 years really was I worked in the music library at University of Illinois and a Time magazine cover came across the desk and it had a picture of Hitler on it.
I read that magazine from cover to cover because it was written in the now of 1938 without the perspective of anything else that was going to come. I just had to understand how this could happen. My grandmother’s history.
Diane: What did it say, the Time magazine? I mean what how did they purport Hitler to be at that time?
Linda: Well he was, I mean from what I remember I’ve looked it up since a little bit but he was a man with ideas. He developed Germany from the poverty and the hunger after world war one. He had done this good thing and that good thing and he was a talker. He was talked and charmed people a bit like somebody in recent memory in America and so people listened and people wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. They didn’t know they were dealing with sociopath.
The whole English thing so she went I knew she’d gone once. I could see how much she loved England in the way that she talked about England. Then all these years later I decided to do the research and I was so shocked on ancestry.com. I started squealing, my kitties jumped off the couch. I mean it was quite a scene around here. I found all these trips that she’d made, these other trips. I tracked her trips, the ship, how long she was there, when she went in, when she went out and she went five times to England. I’m like oh my God. No wonder. I mean it gave me this sense of her as she really wanted to have this bigger life and was fascinated. Her husband’s money could pay for the trip and so she went. Wow.
Diane: She fell into these affected British accents too at times.
Linda: And in Oklahoma.
Diane: In Oklahoma you also talk about like yes, how you and your cousins or your cousins especially. You were quite mannerly but at the table might lick their knives. I’m like yes, lick their knives but be careful doing that like there is an edge but I mean she obviously would pooh-pooh that because the British aristocracy and the obsession with the British and the monarchy that certainly exists today.
Linda: Well yes. I mean she loved, she was very mystical though like I’ll never forget this time because I was you still young. She talked about standing in front of a castle and I wish I knew which one but I don’t but a castle in the mist. She sensed she’d been born at the wrong time. Now that is not something everyone says. I mean we hear people saying this but there she was older, living in Oklahoma, raising me. All that was behind her. She read poetry. I mean she was really interested in these other layers of life even though I think eventually her illness which became clear later defeated her but manic depressive illness but she opened all these doors and windows for me. Getting me into music, having me read, reading poetry even though it was a little boring at the time and I wasn’t quite sure why she was just insisting but she knew that these other worlds were bigger than the ones we saw day to day. That’s what I’m doing now is making bigger worlds with writing and what you’re doing.
Diane: Well thank you. I mean it’s also you say imagination can take you places and it can only take you so far but I’m fascinated that there’s this duality. I mean Hitler turned out to be an absolute criminal against humanity, the most horrific person in our time or our understanding of the century. There was this duality. You saw him on the cover of Time magazine. You saw your grandmother with these perfect manners and then at home she became brutal. I mean she was corporal. She was punishing. She was critical. I mean she was abusive and there you retreated into music and sounds and took yourself away through the imagination available through music. That was quite a coping mechanism for a young person. I wondered if music became your kind of home, you’re kind of psychic home for a while?
Linda: Yes, I mean she introduced me to the piano. I mean she wanted me to do things that she’d never had the opportunity to do. I think she tried to get my mother, well my mother did learn the piano but I was her captive audience. She was determined to do these things and the whole thing about kids practicing while other kids are outside playing but yes, music grabbed me. Then I discovered she, I discovered the joys of string music through a teacher that danced his way into our fourth grade class with his violin. I fell in love with the music. I fell in love with him and he became a beautiful healing mentor to me with the cello.
We decided I would play the cello because it was less competition and a beautiful instrument. Through learning the cello and then being in the youth symphony and then later in the larger symphony in this small town. It was a university town so there’s a few things going for it there. I had friends. I found myself transported. I mean being in the cello section playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is a surround sound experience that can just take you other places. Then I was writing about this yesterday. It’s very hard to write about music and what it does to you but the way that we would all share these glances while we were playing of love. We were all swept up together. It was really, really beautiful. I could go home and face some of these other things afterwards.
Diane: Right you’d made a connection. You’d connected to others through this love, through the eye contact, through the smiles when it was going well, through something that didn’t have any ominous threat. I know I wonder about kids now like where is their sense of connection coming from. We’ve got to pause for a break right now but when we come back we are going to talk about the empty expanse of the planes, how the idea of home evolves, where it might be today and how we can find it. Don’t go away we’ll be right back with Linda Joy Myers,
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Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Linda Joy Myers who was just describing the sensation of being in the orchestra as a young person and making connections and actually tending to your own warmth and to your own inner fire. Linda Joy, it sounds to me that that tended to yourself in a way that your environment wasn’t. Talk to us a little bit about then transcribing that feeling of transcending the really harsh elements of your environment when you started writing and putting things on the page. How does that work?
Linda: Well it works with many drafts but let’s get down to like moments of creation here for a minute because I think what we all start with is what happened? What happened when and kind of getting grounded in the real world aspects of what was going on. The other layer that we’re always trying to create in all writing including memoir is how do you create a feeling for someone else to grab hold of? Like in all the arts how do you create a feeling? I learned that it takes a lot of free writing and doing, I wrote my story in poetry first because I was both afraid and didn’t think I could do it in prose. I mean prose doesn’t allow for the spaces. Well current a lot of prose does but my view of it at the time was that prose is going to ask me to knit together fragmented pieces. I wasn’t ready for a while but having written poetry and creating imagery, creating sensual moments that are experiential helped me then when it came to going beyond the what happened version of both memoirs.
I mean the second one was a lot easier to write than the first one which took many, many years and lots of I just needed to do a lot of learning about prose writing
But the way that I experienced it. I was kind of doing this yesterday is I sort of lift off from that grounded place into a kind of I don’t know what you call it a I don’t even know how to describe it but almost like a soul journey into imagery and sensation, association, feeling, thinking of words that are like a bong, a sound almost in your psyche and how do we both recognize that and then try to create it.
Yesterday, I didn’t do it very well but I got a few seeds planted and part of what inspired me is I was sitting outside in the sun and the birds were singing in my tree, my beautiful tree that is just leafed out. These other birds were answering on another tree next door. It was in that space that I even thought of writing something new about my life. That was kind of interesting. It was in the moment of nature that opened a space for me.
Diane: Well you’ve given us the sensory experience of immersing into the wheat fields of the plains of your childhood. I was really mesmerized by that and felt that it connected to something others have talked about which is this kind of void that exists in us, the sense of emptiness that when we look out at a vast ocean or a plane or a desert it connects with something inside of us that we feel that we don’t always acknowledge but is the kind of vastness that we can either fill with junk or we can fill with really good tidbits of juicy stuff like nature, like the communication of birds. I’m so interested that you said it was that moment of sort of silence between the two birds talking to one another because I think that through a background like yours I wonder if you don’t have a kind of radar for reading between the lines because nobody told you anything. You didn’t know where your mother was. She’d left. You didn’t know where your father was. He’d left. You didn’t know where your grandmother had been, how to account for all of her differentness, her almost uh eccentricity. You had to read between the lines of all these polite conversations. I wonder if it gave you a kind of sixth sense or a kind of radar.
Linda: The children do that. I once wrote a poem about how I assessed my grandmother’s mood from my bedroom because I was afraid to come out of my room and see what she was like that given day because I never knew quite what I’d find. She started to change when I was about 10 or 11 so after that it was a little more fraught and so it was how hard she set her coffee cup down on the saucer in the living room. I could hear that and how hard her heels hit the floor as she went to the kitchen to get more coffee. I would assess her mood but children who grow up in trauma, children who grow up in fear, anyone, everyone, I mean we all do this. We listen for the clues for safety and for danger. We do prepare ourselves I think for whatever we can manage but I’d like to contrast that with then so the other thing that happens in Oklahoma is storms come.
We’re out in the middle of the plains. There’s nothing to stop the wind or the rain or all the stuff that comes blowing in from the Rockies. This landscape is a landscape of we can see the storm coming but we don’t know what it’ll do to us. That’s a kind of an interesting psychological state as well. I do have to say that when the winds came not the tornado. I mean we didn’t actually have an actual tornado blessedly come but the strong winds of the plains. I would feel deeply touched and moved literally, physically and reached at by forces greater than myself that I found comforting. I mean well at least it’s just the wind. It’s not somebody hitting me. It’s the wind and it’s a natural force. It brings with it different kinds of weather and I would stand in the wind and almost hear it talk to me. I suppose I had a little bit of my grandmother’s mysticism in there but really there’s one passage in Don’t Call Me Mother where I can still remember what the wind said. It told me that life would get better and it told me that there was a lot beyond what I was going through. It gave me hope. Who knows what that’s all about but it helped.
Diane: I love that it’s something bigger than you. It’s something bigger than your life and that it was reassuring that there was something out there and that would spoke to you. I think it doesn’t really matter where that comes from. I think the important thing is that it connects to your source, some source connects to your source.
Linda: I was really blessed to have those moments. I had a lot of them and the reason I, well I put the plains in both books because it’s part of me. There’s a way that, even now, even if I just look at a picture of the great plains with that huge sky and the particularly the gold and wheat spread out for miles on every side something happens inside. There’s this it is a home. I mean it is a grand home of place. I know that for many people, people write about the beach. People write about the mountains. People write about places in the world and those places are implanted in the psyche and in the soul of us as humans. They invite us to come back and visit them and both metaphorically now maybe but then in real life too.
Diane: Well you had receptivity also to the landscape to its messages. I think that that was an extra sensitivity that you experienced. You’ve gone on to actually describe home as something that also becomes cellular that it’s in our DNA because the dust is sweeping into your breath. The breath is going into your body. Talk about some of that, how that conflates and becomes part of your actual self?
Linda: Well, it’s kind of interesting when I was young I knew a lot about the history of Oklahoma. Oklahoma history is really quite interesting. I could one time I remember I could almost see the horses and the native people riding by in the wind of my imagination but I mean the great plains I grew up learning this and then I did a lot of research about the different Mesozoic and different eras but the great plains where we live was an inland sea. Literally there are fossils everywhere. The dust and the dirt and everything are some of it. I mean some of it are bits of bone. As I revise Don’t Call Me Mother and as I went on into Song of the Plains, well we’re back to history again.
I mused about how it was that really we are incorporated into the landscape that we’re experiencing. This is how I saw it years later. You feel that ocean of, you see the wheat blowing. That’s one way to look at that ocean but it is huge. I mean you’ve heard all these people talk about how they had no idea how big America was till they drove across the Great Plains for days. There’s almost nothing. People tell me that they didn’t even realize Oklahoma was a real place until they read my book as most people fly over. I mean I’m generalizing hugely. I mean I know people who live there. We all know people who live in the Great Plains maybe but I think a writing is an opportunity to share a view of a place that other people don’t have, wouldn’t know about. I mean I know I get that about the beach when I read about people who live in the east coast. They go climbing through the rock or they do something at the beach that I’m like what are they doing. I don’t really know but they’re taking me on a journey into this world with them and showing it to me.
Diane: I thought the other interesting part you bore witness to the plains to Oklahoma, a place that you say a lot of people don’t really acknowledge exists. I know what you’re saying about that. People fly from the east coast to the west coast. They think of it as a void. We don’t look into voids. That’s scary plus there might not be anything there. You don’t know what you’re looking for. It might be very microscopic. As you say it might be fossils but I thought it was very interesting that you bore witness to this idea that there are certain places where we connect very deeply with ourselves inexplicably. I can certainly see the eyes of people that I’ve talked to where I’ve been trying to describe my connection to a certain place.
They’re glazing over and I thought to myself here is this book. In this book you understand how we resonate with certain places. Some of them we don’t have any explanation for because we’ve never been there before. We just get to that jagged coast of Ireland and look out and say oh my god. I feel everything. I feel ancestors, the future, the past, everything. Certain landscapes are very evocative and I just think the fact that you declared it and said this is valid. I actually kind of have proof at a cellular level because we’re all looking for proof it is really a contribution this concept of home that you found and also you mentioned that the native, the indigenous tribes who were there never felt that they owned the land. That was a white man’s concept.
Linda: Thank you for bringing that up. Well yes I mean I’ve done a lot of reading of native books, native writers through the years. I really wanted to put it in there about this whole concept of owning the land and that they did not see that way. My extended family lived in Iowa where my grandmother’s mother was Blanche, my great-grandmother, is an important part of my early story because she knew the history of all these people. I started interviewing her when I was eight years old like will you tell me what was going on around here. The family lived on the banks of the, basically on the banks of the Mississippi River. Well here’s some history. Here’s some history of land and water. I did the research about the land in Iowa that the family had. I’d seen an original old house that there on that land when I was very young. I did all this research and basically the native peoples had just been chased away to open those lands for the white people which included my family.
I just it was kind of heartbreaking. Then there were stories from older people that I read in various memoirs and diaries from Iowa area. I did a lot of research about that area as well. The older people would say well they used to come, the Indians to the back door and ask for food. I mean these stories were still verbal stories passed down when I was a child. I was like wow. I mean speaking of history I mean it’s everywhere. I believe I mean this will sound kind of mystical too I suppose. I write and you’re acknowledging this that the land remembers. The land has its own memory, its own kind of imprint of history on it. To me that’s kind of fascinating. I’m not the first person that said that but to me I could really see that and feel that there and in England and in France where I’ve done research. I mean if we just think about it we can go to that arena.
Diane: We can. We can sense it. We can sense the imprint. We must pause for a break again but I do want to come back to this idea that you find this to be embedded in you and also that it created in you I think probably some sympathies to the outliers, to the Indians, to the native tribes, to people who were displaced so that the land also creates a kind of an identity. When we come back we’re going to talk to really the person, the bomb of memoir is Linda Joy Myers who we’re with right now. We’ll talk about memoir. We’ll talk about what we would write if we were not afraid. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back on Dropping In.
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Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Linda Joy Myers who is a person who has evolved as a writer, as a memoirist and now to be a novelist. Linda Joy, I somehow picture you, you talk a lot about being wispy, feeling wispy as a young girl. No wonder you couldn’t quite root yourself. You were rooted in this landscape but the immediate environment was hostile. Your home life was hostile. You then learned about yourself through memoir. Let’s go through that arc so that we can come out to where you are with the novel that you’re writing. How does memoir, okay you are also how does it work? How does it transport us? How does it make us learn about ourselves or allow us to learn about ourselves?
Linda: How does memoir do that? Oh yes well, I mean the thing of it is and anyone who’s written or created anything knows this is that we come to a creative work whether it’s a painting, a dance or writing but we’ll talk about writing. We come with an idea. We come with thoughts and intentionality and we begin to work with what we have. Then oddly and interestingly something else happens in the middle of that creative process if we’re lucky. I mean if the something else doesn’t happen we’re not quite tapped in to the stream of possibilities and literal creativity, creating something out of nothing that can happen. We need to start with what we have and make an outline and do our grounded work while staying open to the things that might come through us that are a surprise.
When I started writing I thought all I was doing was writing down what happened. This was like 25 to 30 years ago but writing down what happened and that was what I was doing. Little did I know that it would lead me to explore myself and my history but I didn’t know about what happened there and I didn’t know about this and I have to imagine that. I have to mostly figure out the meaning and what is my message not just to a reader because I wrote most of Don’t Call Me Mother just out of desperation not I didn’t even think about publishing. I couldn’t bear to think about anyone reading it either. I wrote it because it had to be written and then gradually shaped it.
The encounter with creativity then was the same feeling I had when I played music. When I was in the wheat field and so I began to connect the dots between this feeling of creating with this other layer of being whatever that is within us. Therein is their reward beyond anything is that we’re doing that dance with creativity itself.
Diane: I love that it’s an encounter. That just sounds, I think that sounds so invitational. Invitational to come to a place where we’re actually forgetting about ourselves and maybe the idea you call yourself a late bloomer. It’s interesting that you’re going to be coming to your first novel at this point. If I could just reveal in the reading of Song of the Plains. You go through quite a bit of education. You go through a couple practice marriages. Let’s not like there’s a few and these lovely children that are born but I wondered if you just felt that you needed to have lots of preparation before you could speak but then you found out wow, you could have this encounter and you had everything you needed to go forward. What was that arc like?
Linda: Well I have to say that that part of how I can have that is through the person who became my therapist and mentor and spiritual guide really through the years whom I still speak with. He showed me and told me even starting in the 70s when I was really broken, just broken. He brought that forward. He reminded me of things that I had forgotten about myself. Some of the things I’m talking to you about today. In the brokenness we don’t see the light. We just see the darkness. He always encouraged me to follow the spark of creativity within me because he could see it even when I couldn’t. Thanks to him. Then he knew my whole story and has all the stories through the years. When I would forget he would just bring me back and say hey, don’t forget. You have this thing that is calling to you. Go and listen to it and work with it so I have.
I’m very blessed. I don’t know what my life would have been like without that guidance. I was very lost for many years. That’s the late blooming business because really it took a long time to find it but the blessing about memoir and as I teach people memoir too. The blessing of memoir is that we go to the darkness, some, I mean not all memoirs are dark but there’s some kind of challenge in every story. In every memoir something we’re working with and out of that and through that we find new paths and we find or can search for the light. I help people do that. I mean there are many people who come to me for coaching and it’s all pain. I hold that with them but I say you need to look for where the light was because here you are, 85 years old and you survived all this. How did you do that? What else was happening to you? I’m passing on what my mentor taught to me which is there’s always more there.
Diane: You were able to create new pathways. I mean we look at ourselves and realize that things are echoing from the past. We attract the same kind of person. We put the same kind of challenges in front of ourselves. I think the one role that I think that is such a redeeming role is that you became empathic. You became sympathetic to the outlier, to the person who’s helping saving others. I wonder if you just touch on and you became that yourself. I wonder if you would touch on your topic for your new novel so that listeners can get a flavor for that.
Linda: Well thank you so much. I discovered a story a few years ago about a man named Varian Fry who at the age of 32 went to France just a month after the fall of France with $3000 taped to his leg to save artists and intellectuals that were on Hitler’s kill list. Hitler was getting rid of anyone who would counter him all over Europe or wherever he could find them. He ended up in Marseille and ended up for a year and a half working legally and a lot of illegally to save people by forging documents, passports, finding passages out of France into some safety including taking people over the Pyrenees into Spain where they could then get to Lisbon and a ship out to America.
He ended up saving Chagall and Hannah Arendt and Max Ernst and Andre Masson and a lot of people that otherwise would have been killed. The artist Lipschitz I think, Modigliani’s brother. There’s many people that he saved beyond these famous people. That story I mean I still read his memoir. I read the introduction to his memoir which was written before the war was over. I always cry. This man really took risks against all odds and I suppose in a way. I mean he was an outlier for sure he was lucky not to have been taken to a camp himself. Being American helped him but so I’ve got suck. I said no to this story for five years. Finally when I went to France a couple years ago I got tapped on the shoulder by a character that appeared on the top of the Pyrenees who whispered to me that I really needed to write this story. I’m still talking to the landscape.
This character he said yep and he told me his name. My main character is a woman artist who ends up leaving Berlin as a Jew with her mentor who is based on my violin teacher that I just told you about earlier. This character is based on him and I’m just trying to make stuff up. I’m so used to what’s the real story. I’m doing both. I’ve got a foot in both camps in history and in creating something out of almost nothing.
Diane: Out of thin air but your imagination, you’re having the encounter. I think that people are going to want to know where to find you. It’s LindaJoyMyersAuthor.com is her website. Your Facebook is Linda Joy Myers Author. You are available for coaching and are accessible. I think that you’ve looked at a lot of imprisoning influences and liberating influences in your life. Believe it or not we have just a couple of minutes left but when you talk about this story and the fire in your belly that you have being drawn to it I also see you Linda Joy as fighting a courageous fight. Woot-woot because Linda Joy on your mother’s gravestone wrote mother of Linda Joy for a woman who continuously throughout her life disavowed you, wouldn’t introduce you to people as her daughter or her grandchildren, your children.
Linda: I had the last word.
Diane: You had the last word in that. I think you put energy towards these fights. They gain momentum. Do you feel that this is your legacy? We have just a couple minutes left. Is that part of it?
Linda: Well the legacy is really to give people permission and encouragement that I was blessed to get from my mentors, my writing teachers, my therapist and so on is honor yourself and honor your story, honor your voice. Don’t be swept aside. Fight back against those who will silence you. I have a whole program on breaking silence. It’s touched on in some of my books. I’m much older now but I have more of a voice now than I’ve ever had in my life but it was slow going for a time. The way to get that voice is sentence by sentence, word by word just keep doing it and get support and get help. Share your vision so others can lift you up while you develop it. Then share it with the larger world which helps all of us. I mean we’re all made better by all the art that gets created.
Diane: Truly and the voice it does get built block by block, word by word even if it’s verbal or written. Thank you very much Linda Joy Myers for sharing your words, your thoughts, your heart with us today. The thanks also go to our engineers Matt Weidner and Aaron Keller, to our executive producer Robert Giolino. Most of all to you our listeners remember to stay safe, get outdoors, find your voice. Here at Voice America we do believe in that. We feel that we’ve got a great co-conspirator in Linda Joy Myers in that. It’s a new day so till next week. Thank you so much for dropping in.
Thank you so much for dropping in. Please join Diane Dewey again next Friday at 8 AM Pacific Time and 11 AM Eastern Time on the Voice America Variety Channel. We’ll see you then.