Writers on Writers
Janet Hulstrand recently worked and lived in Paris in her role as director of study abroad programs for Hunter and Queens College in New York-(CUNY), The City University of New York. Hulstrand, a contributor to Bonjour Paris is fluent in French and Spanish, serves as a consultant and adjunct professor at Queens and is author of the National Association of International Educators best-selling booklet” What Parents Need to Know About Education Abroad.”
She returns to France for her “Writing from the Heart” week-long retreats in Essoyes, heart of champagne country. While in Paris, she talked with Paris Writers News about teaching, coaching, and her craft.
Pamela Leavy: You advise writers to establish a twitter site. Why?
Janet Hulstrand: Twitter is one of the most powerful promotional tools I have seen and it is free, Twitter messages are like word games, limited to 140 characters that are informative and worth saying. Twitter can direct others to Facebook, your Blog, all your links. You can create your own Twitter world and make friends that way with one Twitter message or multiple Twitters a day.
PL: Tell me about “Writing from the Heart” before we talk about your recent college teaching experience in Paris.
JH: Writing from the Heart offers a journey into the heart of France and into your own heart. The next session of Writing from the Heart in Essoyes will be held October 23-29, 2012. Participants find the time, courage and inspiration to write about what’s most important to them. The group relaxes in the same beautiful setting that nourished the creative genius of Pierre Auguste and Jean Renoir, among other artists. In a charming family-run hotel with a beautiful setting and excellent cuisine, writers work on their own writing or begin to write for the first time in a non-judgmental, supportive, small-group workshop. I believe that the best writing is born of both wisdom and courage. Wisdom comes from life experience. The courage to express what we truly believe and have learned through our life experience is the source of the best writing there can be. Writing from the heart is a bold act. It is not for the faint of heart.
I would like to share this with readers because I think this quote goes to the heart of why writing from the heart is such a good and important thing. The quote is by James Baldwin, one of my favorite writers “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was the books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
JH: When you write from the heart, you fear that what you share may be scorned, mocked, or misunderstood. Or that what you have to say may be incorrect or inconsequential, that it may offend or expose you to ridicule. But what you find instead nearly always is that it connects you to humanity in a way that precious few other things do. When you write honestly from the heart, you find that your writing almost inevitably touches other people and creates a common chord of understanding. It also frees you up to experience your own life in a deeper, richer way than you were able to do before. And it can be a never-ending process of learning, growing, and discovering not only yourself but the world and the people around you.
PL:Did you teach writing to your college students this summer?
JH: In Paris my literature students were introduced to traveling and living and studying abroad, to literature classics and to Paris history, I encouraged them to sit in cafes, to carry a journal for notes and to document the photos they took (a good tip for writers too so you can go back, find, and use your photos), and to read the Paris history about street names and metro signs. I also invited James A. Emanuel, the American Poet who has lived here since 1984, l to speak to the class.
PL What are some of the books you use in Writing from the Heart sessions?
JH: I use Julia Cameron’s “The Right to Write,”described as a refreshing reminder that writing can be satisfying.I also use Brenda Ueland’s “If You Want to Write.”
Ueland published two books during her life. The first was If You Want to Write: a Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, first published in 1938. She put forth the idea that “we are all talented, original and have something important to say.”
PL: Please tell me about your Winged Words editorial service.
JH: I have worked on books by individual writers including Caroline Kennedy, such an intelligent and gracious lady, and other clients have included Artisan Publishing, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Lawrence Jordan Literary Agency among others.
PL: What personal writing work do you have in progress?
JH: Stay tuned. I am currently writing a literary memoir titled A Long Way from Iowa.
Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, and teacher based in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her essays and articles have been published in the Christian Science Monitor, International Educator, Guide to Retirement Living, Smithsonian.com,and many other publications. She studied essay writing with Anatole Broyard and literature with Philip Roth, and has taught writing and literature at Hunter and Queens Colleges of the City University of New York. Her first book, Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home, was reviewed in the national press and widely praised: she and her coauthor now blog on this topic at Downsizing the Home: Lessons Learned. She is a frequent contributor to Bonjour Paris and writes essays on travel and literature for her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road.
The next session of Writing from the Heart in Essoyes will be held October 23-29, 2012. Enrollment limited to 10. APPLICATION DEADLINE August 15, 2012. For additional information and application forms, email@example.com Cost: 1295 Euros (to be paid in equivalent dollars at the current rate of exchange) includes tuition, six nights in the hotel, breakfast and dinner.
Also: Sun 5 Aug. 19h00 DRINKING CHAMPAGNE AND THE CHAMPAGNE REGION THIS SUMMER. Writer Janet Hustrand. Patricia's Paris Expats Soirees Dinners. To reserve firstname.lastname@example.org