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Every Woman Has a Story to Tell: Memoir Writing Ink’s Mission to Celebrate Unheard Voices

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Many people used to believe that the only stories that mattered were those of the powerful and the famous, those who ruled, dominated, or commanded the most attention. While that belief has shifted in recent years, it’s evident that history has most often been written about men, by men, for men. Responding to the global absence of women’s stories, the term herstory was first vocalized during the second feminist wave in the US, addressing the deeply-rooted oppression that impacted women’s lives across the board, from fundamental human rights and voting privileges to their presence and endurance in history.

Many years and battles later, most places worldwide granted women rights to vote, divorce, and work. However, the results of centuries-long patriarchal systems are still blatantly tangible, especially when considering women’s place in governments and leadership positions. It can be argued that such discrepancy stems from the hushed voices of women, wives, mothers, or daughters throughout history, diminishing the value of women’s perspectives, stories, and triumphs.

For Alison Wearing, an award-winning writer and performer, penning our stories is the first step to honoring our lives and voices. Passionate about teaching people the tools they need to craft their life stories into art, Alison created Memoir Writing Ink, an online course curated to revitalize memories, shape a compelling narrative, crystallize voice, overcome the challenges of writing about ourselves and our families, and navigate the complex journey of writing personal stories that readers will appreciate and cherish.

Although Memoir Writing Ink is inclusive for both men and women, in celebration of Women’s Month, Alison encourages women especially to take part. “I love making space for women whose voices have been quiet and giving them volume, support, and enthusiasm, honoring the lives they have led. Most of the women in my audience are people in the sterling years of their lives, and many have devoted a good deal of time tending to other people’s lives and stories. They’ve often supported husbands, children, and communities, and they’re now at a point where they want to pay tribute to their own lives,” expresses Alison. “It’s their time.”

While some people may be able to chart the narrative arc of their stories on their own, writing a memoir can often be overwhelming and many people need the guidance and support of professional wordsmiths. Memoir Writing Ink, a 12-week online course designed and facilitated by Alison, offers step-by-step guidance, ensuring that even beginners can learn to express their stories in engaging ways.

During the course, Alison releases new chapters weekly and hosts one live event monthly. Events offer writers-to-be a chance to ask questions, meet other participants, find creative partners, form writing groups, learn to sculpt their stories successfully, and even publish them. While the spaces are limited, the course registration is open all year round, allowing people to sign up when the inspiration strikes.

Having traveled throughout Europe, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, the Amazonian regions of Ecuador and Peru, and across Siberia, Mongolia, and China, Alison found her artistic calling through travel memoirs. A writer of 35 years, Alison has received multiple awards for her books, short stories, and essays, including the Canadian National Magazine Award Gold Medal.

Memoir Writing Ink, a fusion of Alison’s decades of experience as a memoir writing coach and her passion for helping quiet voices sing, was founded in 2020, elevating the writer’s reach and impact. The many lessons of the course include, but aren’t limited to; addressing critical concepts of truth and memory, voice and permission; creating a ‘container’ for your story to give it shape and clarity; finding the ‘sky writing’ or universal resonance; writing about family or difficult people; and transforming the obstacles that arise during the process into creative challenges.

Some people are looking to publish their writing, but many are not. In either case, writing a memoir produces a tangible, physical memento that can be passed down through generations. The process can also generate an internal shift in the way we perceive the life events we are writing about. For Alison, crafting personal stories can be a gateway to empowering people, especially women.

“I believe that empowerment comes in stages. One of them is settling into the voice of the narrator. To resonate with readers, a memoir needs authenticity and that requires the writer to step into her truest voice, one that isn’t trying to impress, be perfect, or sound like anyone else. Rather this is a voice that is beautifully imperfect, painfully honest, and utterly unique. Not only is that voice enough, it’s the only one qualified to tell her story. This realization alone can be tremendously affirming,” shares Alison.

“Another part of the empowerment involves separating from the story. When we start looking at our stories as a piece of writing – no longer my story, but a story – we begin to see the people in those stories, including ourselves, as characters. We look at the child or young woman we once were from a distance, and we gain a perspective and understanding of the full complexity of the situation that we didn’t have at the time. These sorts of shifts in perception can prompt huge insights. We cannot change what happened to us, but we can change the meaning we make of it and, therefore, the power it has over us.”

Guidance and mentorship are a vital part of the process, but the first crucial step is overcoming the limiting belief that ordinary stories don’t matter. For Alison, every story has a sacred intrinsic value. Together, our stories connect us as human beings, they weave us into communities and cultures. Memoir Writing Ink is the writer’s way of honoring people’s desire to add their voices to the collective human choir. As noticed by Alison, participants often don’t know why they signed up, and she encourages them not to focus on the reasons. “The fact that they had this urge means there’s something in them that longs to be born, and I love honoring that impulse,” adds Alison.

With March being the month of celebrating women, Alison Wearing extends an invitation to women worldwide, offering them a chance to commemorate their stories and engrave their names in global herstory.

“I love giving a platform to those whose voices have yet to be heard. It’s extraordinarily gratifying to watch women honor their own story and experience the inspiring transformation that comes from the simple act of writing,” states Alison. “Writing our stories transforms the way we see ourselves in the world. You won’t enter this process and walk away the same. And I will never grow tired of watching women rediscover their power and freedom; it’s just a beautiful thing to witness.”

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