I had the great fortune of sitting in a class on writing memoir at the Festival of Faith and Writing. The session was headed by Jeanne Murray Walker (who also led a great session on writing metaphor) and Luci Shaw (who became my new favorite poet). The third chair was filled by Leslie Leyland Fields, and today’s post is mostly about her.
My first impression was, “what a bold young woman.” She was dressed in red and black, accented with bold jewellery, and the biggest smile. At one point in the session, a young woman rose to ask about her own memoir, detailing her experiences as a woman in Iran, and how that culture was difficult for her. She asked if she should write her memoir, even if she didn’t have the solution to the problem.
Oh how Leslie wanted to answer that question! I smiled at her passion. Yes, she was nodding emphatically, Yes, Yes, Yes! Write what is on your heart, write to raise awareness, write to let people know what you know. Write so others realize there is a problem for which a solution must be found. She didn’t get a chance to say that for a few minutes, as the other two ladies answered first.
That evening after the conference wrapped, my colleague and I went to a Turkish restaurant and who should walk in but two of the speakers, Luci and Leslie. I don’t normally interrupt ‘celebrities’ but seeing they’d not yet ordered, I located a wee bit of bold in my introverted self and took thirty seconds to thank them both. So gracious, these women. Their eyes sparkle and gleam with joy and, perhaps, a bit of mischief. We spoke for only a moment, and in that time, I knew I would be searching for them online.
Since coming home, I’ve started to follow Leslie Leyland Fields’ blog posts. The fire she showed that day is also evident in her writing. Here is a snippet from a recent post.
In these times, you cannot work. Or think. Or write. And it’s okay, because now your work is different. Now your work is to rest. To stop performing, to collapse upon your bed, to cry however long and often you need, to look out the window at the ocean and the clouds, to call a friend, to sleep, to ask for prayer. And to be sad.
The rest of the post can be found here. Look at the top of her webpage and take a peek at her biography too. My first impressions hardly begin to capture her essence.