Writing at a Writer’s House

by Linda C. Wisniewski

Published in the March 2020 newsletter of Story Circle Network, http://www.storycircle.org

On weekday afternoons from March to November, writers converge on a 50-acre farm in rural Pennsylvania to work on their memoirs. Since 2010, I have been lucky enough to be their guide in the very spot where Pulitzer and Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck wrote most of her novels and other works after leaving her childhood home in China in 1935.

Our class meets inside her 1825 barn, now called the Cultural Center, where her family once kept Guernsey cows and hosted Boy Scout, Girl Scout, and 4-H meetings, parties for wounded soldiers during the Second World War and even a temporary kindergarten for the overcrowded local school district. In a large high-ceilinged room that was once a basketball court for her children, my students write at tables with a view of well-tended gardens. Pearl Buck’s portrait hangs larger than life above a stage at one end of the room. Continue reading “Writing at a Writer’s House”

Writers Guild, Literary Journal & Memoir Class

Calling All Writers!

Dump the winter doldrums and join our Writers Guild at Pearl S. Buck’s historic Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA, 18944 this coming Sunday, March 15th at 1pm.

We meet once a month (on the third Sunday from March through October) in the Cultural Center – Red Barn – for two hours of lively discussion as we share and critique our writing work-in-progress. Registration for The Writers Guild is available for our 2020 season now at https://pearlsbuck.org/writing-center/.

Join us and bring a sample [up to 3 pages] of your work to share. In a friendly atmosphere, we encourage, support, and challenge writers to improve whether they are experienced writers or beginners. Continue reading “Writers Guild, Literary Journal & Memoir Class”

Register Now for 2020 Writers Guild & Memoir Classes

In keeping with the literary legacy of Pearl S. Buck, the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center, organized and run by the Pearl S. Buck Volunteer Association, offers Writers Guild monthly meetings and Memoir Writing classes. Both begin in March and are available for registration for our 2020 season now at https://pearlsbuck.org/writing-center/. Here is an outline of each offering. Hope you can join us! Continue reading “Register Now for 2020 Writers Guild & Memoir Classes”

2020 Update on Guild and Writing Center Press

By Anne K. Kaler

So you thought that we were celebrating and/or napping over the holidays . . . but here is an update of our most recent accomplishments at Pearl S. Buck Writing Center.

The Writing Center Press is proud to announce the publication of two important books this November, both memoirs/autobiographies worth reading: Continue reading “2020 Update on Guild and Writing Center Press”

Summer 2019 ♦ Volume 4, Number 1

Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal

Secrets

Secrets – one of the first things we learn as children.

The concept of secrets starts with toddlers being shushed by parents for commenting on someone’s weight or color or disability. They get shushed again for repeating something Mommy or Daddy said. “Don’t tell, don’t say that to Daddy, Mommy, neighbors or doctors.”

As we get older, secrets become more complicated and seemingly more necessary in our lives. We even keep secrets from ourselves by refusing to discuss or cope or change. Yet, we hate secrets too. We struggle to decide which ones to keep and which ones to tell. We bemoan this universal human tendency while we embrace the need for it. We excuse the white lies and feel guilty about bigger ones. We all have secrets we don’t want others to know, private and hidden knowledge filled with power. The secrets might amaze or embarrass, betray, shock or harm. We simply don’t know.

So, what do we do?

Recently, our teenage grandson came into my kitchen just as I finished an edit on a poem. Impulsively, I asked if he’d like to read it. Being both polite and kind, he said he would. The poem describes an incident from my childhood which, through the alchemy of writing, was transformed into something new.

“Did this happen to you?” he asked. “Is it real?”

Then, we talked about prose and poetry being a release for emotions, a release for the demons we all carry or a release for secrets we can’t otherwise share. Those things can be put into words on a page where it may touch a chord in a reader. Through the alchemy of writing, I took an incident and made it new, gave it a different life in a poem. He connected to that and I saw the understanding as it began to show on his face.

Like any art, writing allows you to take a thought or emotion and create something new, something that may or may not have anything to do with the original inspiration. We mine our lives for those nuggets we find useful and transform them into art, music, prose, and poetry. My grandson understood that and likened it to his favorite movies and the stories they tell. Since he enjoys art and music, I suggested he try it himself and one day he may.

Often, writing exposes a deeper truth and the secrets that are kept there. In the act of writing, we may reveal something to ourselves, thoughts or feelings we didn’t know we had. From this, we can learn what themes our life follows and what problems occur the most. That is why writing journals is so useful and why bibliotherapy – the use of poetry or prose to explore feelings — works. We literally see ourselves in words.

Conversely, writing hides secrets in plots or images, which wait to be found by the reader.  That is why mysteries are so popular – we don’t know something, so we need clues to help us find the secret. There’s a reason Law and Order was so popular for so many years. We like knowing secrets, even those of fictional characters. It gives us satisfaction.

Biographies and memoirs reveal the secrets of someone’s life, which can be endlessly fascinating. Even self-help books reveal secrets – Learn to cook creatively! Be a better person! Learn the secret of weight loss!

We chose Secrets as a theme for this issue of the journal because there is something deeply human about them, something that brings out emotions of every sort. It is universally interesting and it inspires all kinds of writing. We have a little bit of everything in this issue, a variety well worth exploring.

So, come – visit our secrets.

Susan E. Wagner
Editor, PSB Literary Journal

(Click title to read selection.
Author’s biography at end of contribution)

Bike Ride

A Poem by Susan E. Wagner

A Sea of a Thousand Shalt Nots

A Memoir by Meredith Betz

A Moment

A Novel Excerpt by Melissa Triol

In the Time of

A Poem by Elizabeth Esris

Secrets – A Play in Four Scenes

A Play by David H. Werrett

The Secret of the Double Knot

A Poem by Anne K. Kaler, PSBVA

Whose Secret Is It?

A Memoir by Linda C. Wisniewski

Secrets Beyond the Windowsills

A Poem by John A. McCabe

Poetry in Brief

An Essay by Susan E. Wagner

In the Garden of the Lost and Found

A Short Story by Meredith Betz

Harry’s Hobby Shop

A Memoir by Fred W. Donaldson

Lost Generation

A Poem by Elizabeth Esris

Winter Roses

A Short Story by Paul Sullivan

Cereal Killers

A Mystery by Ann Nonymous

Ogallala Memories

A Short Story by Bob McCrillis

His Footsteps

A Poem by David H. Werrett

A Women’s Tale

A Short Story by Susan E. Wagner

Nevada’s Light Brigade: A Top Secret Clearance

A Novel Excerpt by John A. McCabe

Keeper of Secrets

A Short Story by Paul Teese

Secretes Continuum

A Memoir by Ronald Scott Price

Sign Up For Advanced Memoir Classes

Need help telling your own life’s story by structuring work you’ve already written, Linda Wisniewski’s Advanced class in Memoir Writing is designed to fit your needs.

Register here or on the PSBI.org website where courses can be found under the Education tab at the top of the home page. See Linda’s biography at the end of this blog with a link to her website. Continue reading “Sign Up For Advanced Memoir Classes”

Writing Center Offers Two Memoir Classes

Need help telling your own life’s story? Whether you’re just beginning the process or need help structuring work you’ve already written, Linda Wisniewski’s Beginners or Advanced classes in Memoir Writing are designed to fit your needs.

Linda’s courses in the past have built up such demand, she is offering two courses this year. Register here or on the PSBI.org website where courses can be found under the Education tab at the top of the home page. See Linda’s biography at the end of this blog with a link to her website.

Memoir Writing Class for Beginners – Six weeks
Wednesdays: April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1 and May 8 2019
1-3pm Cultural Center, 2nd Floor
$150 fee for 6 classes

Course Description:
Have you been thinking about writing your memoir but don’t know where to start?

Join us for a six-week class that will cover all the basics of modern memoir writing and answer all your questions. Learn to write about people, place, work, loss and more.

Each week’s informative lecture and writing practice with gentle, constructive feedback will give you a solid foundation to put your memories on the page for your family, for publication, or for your own good health.

Advanced Memoir Writing Class –
1st Wednesday of the month for 6 months
Wednesdays: June 5, July 3, August 7,
September 4, October 2, and November 6
1-3pm Cultural Center, 2nd floor
$150 fee for 6 classes

Course Description:
If you have some of your memoirs on paper and are ready to learn how to organize them, expand what is significant, and deepen their meaning, this is the class for you.

Within the monthly format of lecture, discussion, in-class writing and constructive feedback, we will cover theme, character arc, dialogue, and more.

Plus, you will be enrolled in our private online Google group, where you can submit your own writing, respond to your classmates’ work, and discuss class readings provided by the instructor.


Linda C. Wisniewski is a former librarian who shares an empty nest in Doylestown with her retired scientist husband. Linda teaches memoir workshops and speaks on the healing power of writing throughout the Philadelphia area. Her work focuses on memoir and personal essays and has been published in literary magazines and anthologies. Linda’s memoir, Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother and Her Polish Heritage was published by Pearlsong Press. Her unpublished novel based on the life of a 19th century ancestor was a finalist for the 2015 Eludia Award. Her website is https://lindawis.com/.