The start of the Fall 2012 Writing Your Life Class looked and felt like the first day back to school as returning members greeted each other with hugs and smiles and swapped stories about what they did over the summer. They welcomed those new to the group, and finally, we settled in to kick-off the new class session. 

(Left to right) Seated: Judy Otto, Kathy Cowden, Patricia Zarek, Jane Peterson, Norma Beasley and Loyd Gilley. Second row: Lois Strickland, Anne Teipel, B. Carter Gilmartin, G Zarek, Penney Fox, Barbara Rawls and Robin Ogilvie. Back row: Mike Teipel, Pat Guttery, Becky McGregor, Leo Hidalgo and M.J. Lucas. Missing from photo: Judi Graham and Molly-Rose Miller.

As a way to introduce ourselves, we pulled inspiration from a memoir by Paul Auster titled Winter Journal, and each person wrote about what his/her dominant hand helped him/her do in his/her lifetime. We heard about challenges faced by the one leftie in class, hands betrayed by arthritis, and the ones that changed diapers, picked cotton, wiped away tears, learned to write the alphabet with thick pencils on scratchy paper, and accomplished many other funny, touching and memorable tasks.

This year, we’re reading the memoir Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan. The author tells the story of being an attorney on Capitol Hill who returns to her East Tennessee home to help in her country-doctor father’s medical office after her mother, who is the receptionist, has a heart attack. A great deal of discussion centered on why a goat is featured so prominently on the front cover of Jourdan’s book. I’m sure we’ll find the answer to that question as we read the book. 

For the next seven weeks, class members will learn how to capture and tell the stories of their lives in interesting ways by studying the writing of Carolyn Jourdan and receive feedback on their work from fellow class members.  

On Thursday, November 8th at 5:30 p.m., each class member will share a story written this session in a reading open to family, friends and the general public. Please set aside this date as we celebrate the lives and writing of the Fall 2012 Writing Your Life Class.

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