My Open Salon compadre Ingrid Ricks has turned the hardscrabble narrative of her childhood — poverty; an abusive Mormon stepfather; a catch-as-catch-can relationship with her salesman dad — into the fiercely inspiring memoir, Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story. She has since teamed with an English teacher at Scriber Lake High School, an alternative high school in Seattle, to teach at-risk teens how to turn their own painful memories into empowering narratives. Check out her Blogger Space below.
I’m not the most prolific blogger.
But when I post, it’s always about one of three things: Embracing life and those in it, overcoming adversity, and going after dreams.
Ok…and it’s also about my evolving journey with Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story, my recently published memoir, and the amazing doors that are opening up along the way.
After a year of being with an agent and navigating the traditional publishing world, I’m so thrilled to have chosen the self-publishing route. The control it allows is amazing. I set the price and change it as I see fit for occasional promotions or experimentation. I’ve been able to quickly make minor edits as typos have been caught, and have even been able to add epilogue info to address readers’ questions about what everyone is doing now. And it’s given me the freedom to go after opportunities I would otherwise be restricted from doing.
By far the most rewarding experience to date has been my recent author partnership with Scriber Lake High School, an alternative high school located in a suburb outside of Seattle.
When English teacher Marjie Bowker first contacted me in early December, neither of us understood what an author partnership even meant. But we both knew we wanted to figure it out. So on a whim, we started brainstorming and Marjie was soon crafting a curriculum that focuses on Hippie Boy as a guide to help her students claim their power by sharing their own stories in a narrative format.
Our month-long curriculum kicked off January 4th. And magic has been happening ever since. These juniors and seniors, more than forty in all, have endured the kind of heartache and tragedy that most of us can’t even fathom. They’ve experienced gang life and drug overdoses, and have lost loved ones to prison, murder and suicide. Some have been shuffled from house to house without ever having a safe place to call home. Some have been battered and abused and neglected. A few have resorted to stealing food because they didn’t have enough to eat.
These students have every right to be angry and hardened. Instead, they are some of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. And they are STRONG. I felt a connection with them the first day I met them. They are me when I was their age and thanks to the power of the story, we share a common understanding. Using Hippie Boy and the writing exercises Marjie crafted for them as their guide, they spent the month working to bring their own stories to life and, in the process, they have found their voice and are taking back their power. On February 1st, we hosted a celebration and all-day reading so the students could share their life scenes. Their stories were mind-blowing. And they were so charged up by the power they had found within themselves that nine of them stayed after school for nearly three hours to share their stories with a producer from our local public radio station.
We’ve hit on something powerful and have made such a connection that I’m working with these students later this spring — when we plan to publish their life stories in an eBook that will carry their powerful words out into the universe.
I’m not sure where this journey will lead. But I know that I want to keep working with at-risk teens — helping them to claim their power by finding their voice and sharing their stories. If you want to learn more about the Scriber writing program or the fundraiser now underway, click on this story by The Weekly Herald.
As for where I write, I’ve got plenty of choices. If it’s early morning, you’ll find me in my home office, scrambling to get in a few words before it’s time to get my daughters up and off to school. Later morning writing is usually done from my reserved corner spot in my husband’s two-room law office.
And weekend mornings, like now, I write at an ice rink where my daughter plays hockey.
But my favorite place to write is at Aster Coffee Lounge.
I order my double shot soy mocha, settle into my favorite bench table, open my laptop, and lose myself in words. I’m there so often the staff jokes that they ought to have a table reserved for me like Hemingway once did at his favorite spot. There’s even a house copy of Hippie Boy at Aster.
Though I’ve gotten away from it for awhile, I love spotlighting people who have turned their dreams into reality. So if you’ve been on a dream journey and want to share it, please stop by my blog: www.ingridricks.com/blog and drop me a note. I hope to hear from you.
Blogger Space is a series devoted to showcasing the places bloggers choose to write. Wanna show off your digs? Send a photo of your space, a blurb about why you write where you do, and a link to your blog to firstname.lastname@example.org.