Saluting the glories of memoir writing
Sigmund Brouwer and Cindy Morgan regale Penholdians on the genre's lasting power
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 06:00 am
Authors Sigmund Brouwer and Cindy Morgan left more than 40 Penhold and area citizens wanting more when the memoir writing session finished.
“I want to leave you with the discovery that you can write one memoir chapter,” said Brouwer to the crowd of enthusiastic adults in the lounge section of the Penhold Library. “If you can write one chapter, you can write another, and another.”
Best-selling Canadian author, Brouwer, and his wife Morgan, a 2014 Grammy nominated Nashville singer-song writer, spoke on memoir writing on July 21 from a unique perspective.
Brouwer, an author of adult and children’s fiction with more than four million book sales to date, spoke on his love of story and connecting people through emotion, while Morgan presented a different approach to writing.
“I write from emotion, and aim for the emotion of my readers and listeners (to my music),” said Morgan before being edged on by her husband to demonstrate. “My family was hillbillies, from Kentucky and they were coal miners. Brothers, uncles, father, friends all worked in the mine. To help capture my family history, I wanted to write about coal mines, and the constant struggle they represent for the families.”
Morgan performed an emotional, personal song, Mother Lode, which kept the library silent and captured the emotions of the listeners.
Brouwer revealed part of his writing journey and made observations on his own life, differentiating story from writing.
“Firstly, writing is separate from storytelling. Secondly, writing is just a delivery system; you don’t have to ‘write’ your story down. There are other ways to preserve your story,” said Brouwer. “Thirdly, I realized later in my career that for the first 23 years there was no personal connection in my work until my daughter was born, and I interjected daddy-daughter relationships.
“Later I wrote Thief of Glory, a semi-fiction book about my father and his life and wrote a thoroughly personal book,” he added.
Brouwer and Morgan broke the group into two sections, which both received two 40-minute sessions of memoir writing advice and coaching.
Penhold citizen Pam Veitch was impressed with the presentation.
“I came here to learn about writing, but now I realize that I want to tell the story of my life, and my family’s life,” said Veitch. “This will help me.”
Morgan and Brouwer made it a point to have fun with the crowd, engaging the audience in a game of “guess the artist, song, or TV show”, while playing theme songs from The Beverly Hillbillies, Saturday Night Fever, and Puff the Magic Dragon.
“I want to empower people to connect with their creativity,” said Morgan of their presentations. “It is important to remember your history. If you don’t preserve it somehow, no one else will.”
Most importantly, Morgan added, it is a way of giving back.
“I have had many, many successful years of a songwriting career, and my husband has had a long, successful career as well,” she said. “This is one way of doing that.”