Benefits of memoir-writing

July 11, 2015 • Posted in careers/jobs for people who are blind, memoir writing, Uncategorized by

Earlier this summer I spoke at a memorial service for a writer in one of the memoir writing classes I lead at Lincoln Park Village. This week a thank-you note arrived from her daughter, and along with the note she included a copy of an essay her mother had written when I assigned “I Have a Dream” as a topic in class.

The grandmother who wrote that essay in2010 started in this downtown Chicago class. Later she attended my class in Lincoln park Village.

The grandmother who wrote that essay in2010 started in this downtown Chicago class. Later she attended my class in Lincoln park Village.

The writer addressed that essay to her first grandchild, due to be born a month later. That baby’s upcoming birth was already a dream come true, and the writer used her 500 words to outline her dreams for herself as a grandmother, and her dreams for her new grandchild, too.

That grandchild is four years old now and was able to know her beautiful grandmother. What a gift that essay is for that little girl, and for me, too.

Mike read the essay out loud when it arrived in the mail, and it brought back vivid memories of that writer overflowing with joy when she first read it in class. What a joy for me to hear it again and discover just how many of her dreams had come true before she died this year.

That essay in the mail confirmed what I already know – getting our life-stories down on paper not only helps us keep our minds and memories fresh, it also enriches the lives of our families and friends who will have them to cherish long after we’re gone.

All four of the memoir-writing classes I lead in Chicago are back in session this week after a short summer siesta. Both classes I lead for Lincoln Park Village are full, as is the “Me, Myself, and I” memoir-writing class I lead at Renaissance Court in the Chicago Cultural Center.

But wait! There’s hope! You don’t need to attend a class to start writing your life stories, and you don’t even need a computer – a pen and paper will do. But if you’re someone who needs a deadline, or appreciates an assigned topic, or enjoys meeting regularly with other writers to share written stories out loud, the Thursday morning class I lead in Printer’s Row still has three two openings!

That class meets on the second floor of Grace Place (637 S. Dearborn, Chicago) on Thursday mornings at 10 a.m., and the next six-week session starts this Thursday, July 16, 2015. You don’t have to live in Printer’s Row to attend this class – our neighborhood is a cinch to get to with public transportation. You can register on line for the Printers Row class or email me at to find out how to register and pay by check.

Ben Squires On July 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Beth: Thank you for your comments about Susan and her joy in your memoir groups. Tessa Rose Doyle, that 4 yr. old granddaughter will have many memoirs to read from Susan’s some 200 such pages, as will Amy, Sarah and me, your devoted “sentry”. And special thanks for speaking at Susan’s memorial service at the DePaul Cortelou Commons Building, you provided a special note to some 200 people who were present and helped make the transition we all needed to cope with her passing. Our best wishes to you for continuing these important programs. Love, Ben Squires

bethfinke On July 12, 2015 at 12:07 am

Oh, Ben, it is so good to hear from you. I miss you as my sentry, and now, without Susan here, I need your guidance more than ever. It was an honor to have her in class and hear her stories first-hand. My love to you and your family, and especially to Tessa.


Darlene Schweitzer On July 11, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Hey Beth

The link didn’t work for the registration on your blog. Can you send me the info again?

Thanks so much! Darlene

Sent from my iPhone


bethfinke On July 12, 2015 at 12:03 am

You’re right. For some reason, if you follow this blog and got this message in your in box, the link doesn’t work. If you link to the web site for the blog post, though, it works. I don’t know why this is (computers are not my forte) but I’ll email you privately with info on how to sign up –we’d love to have you!

Darlene Schweitzer On July 11, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Hey Beth

I forgot to ask you who was it that passed away that you mentioned?

Hugs! Darlene

Sent from my iPhone


bethfinke On July 11, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Darlene, I’ll email you with information.


WandaB On July 12, 2015 at 8:44 am

I think all of your writers have gained much from your class assignments. The essays collected in book form gave a bit of family history to the younger generation and put me in touch with long lost relatives.
I have gained many friends. Knowledge of other cultures and customs has been most interesting and enlightening. Bonding with and petting your seeing eye dogs warms my heart and brings happy memories of the many, many pets we have shared our homes and office with. The compliments and interest shown my work has boosted my morale and filled my heart with joy.
Sifting through the past has given me an insight to my inner self.
To our friend Minerva Bell for introducing us.
For your energy, indomitable spirit and encouragement.
For all the hours you have helped me fill .
For the recalling of events relative to the interesting topics you assign.
After nine years I still look forward to each class session and still leave invigorated and challenged to dust the cobwebs from my mental computer.
For Being YOU and for being my Friend,
Hugs all around. Wanda B.

violynn333 On July 12, 2015 at 12:34 pm

If there’s any way you can, take this class! You will have the best teacher and you will actually write your memoir. DO IT.

Cheryl On July 12, 2015 at 6:58 pm

I hope my chair will still be available for the fall “semester”. I have enjoyed my two “semesters” at Grace Place along with some wonderful women. I look forward to sharing my 500 words and listening to theirs. The class helps me share stories with my children that I would have probably kept to myself. Thank you, Wanda, for being Flo’s friend and pen pal. She always had a glow when she said she had a card or note ftom Wanda and thank you Beth for bringing them together:)

bethfinke On July 13, 2015 at 5:19 am

It was my privilege –and pleasure — to bring those two wonderful 90+-year-olds together. And what a coincidence: it is my privilege — and pleasure — to bring your younger group of writers together now on Thursday mornings, too. Your spot is there for you this Fall, Cheryl, don’t you worry. I think the Fall classes will start up again in early October, stay tuned…


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