Let me tell you about the Life Lines
the kind of thing I do:
I run a very relaxed, comfortable writing
class. Most of the group members are seniors, although not all. Some
members are former housewives, schoolteachers, GE engineers, doctors,
widows and widowers, cancer survivors or other life-crisis survivors.
Some are computer savvy, some are not and are not even on email. Some
are a little shy. Some are ebullient. All are interesting. Some are
remarkably good writers. Some are real novices but have great stories
nonetheless. Some have absolutely no intention of publishing their memoirs,
or will self-publish on a small scale for family and friends.
I introduce a prompt with every meeting and
we free write for ten minutes on whatever comes to mind. The idea is
to pour onto the page whatever comes into your head. These can be rewritten
or discarded, but I recommend holding on to them for awhilerereading
them at a later date. Reading aloud is recommended but voluntary.
I also give homework assignments. Again, these
are voluntary. If you are currently working on something of your own,
thats okay. You can bring it to class to read aloud (or in some
cases, not very often, someone will print copies out for everyone in
the class so they can read in advance and make comments. Often this
is prohibitive in terms of timing. We just dont have a lot of
time for very long pieces (more than 5 pages).
MARY SANDERS SHARTLE is a poet, fiction,
and essay writer. Her novel about a woman living alone in the
Adirondacks: The Truth and Legend of Lily Martindale, is available from
SUNY Press in April 2014. She was awarded a 2007 individual artists
grant from the New York State Council of the Arts, a state agency, to
complete the book. In January, 2014 she was a finalist in the Tupelo
Press Open Prose competition. The story, The Spider Web
appeared in their on-line Quarterly. She is a member of The Three
Poets with colleagues Marilyn McCabe and Elaine Handley, who thrice
won the Adirondack Center for Writing Literary Award for best book of
poetry for their chapbooks Notes from the FiretowerThree Poets
on the Adirondacks (2005) and Glacial Erratica: Three Poets on the Adirondacks,
Part 2 (2006); and Winterberry, Pine: Three Poets on North Country Winter
(2010). Their full length book, Tear of the Clouds, was released by
Ra Press in 2011.
Shartle teaches numerous writing workshops for adults, children and
teens. She regularly hosts book discussion groups for Road Scholars
(Elder Hostel) at Great Camp Sagamore. She was an editorial committee
member and contributor to The Galway Story Quilt: Poems of a Place by
the People Who Live Here, published in 2007 which won the Joseph Shubert
Award for Library Excellence, New York States most prestigious
Shartle was the director of the Saratoga Poetry
Zone in Saratoga Springs, New York from 2004 until 2007, hosting poets
such as Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Dan Hoffman and Rachel Hadas. She currently
sits on the board of the Adirondack Center for Writing.
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