Photos from Scenes in A Long Way from Paris

Camille

Water “tank” used before the water froze

The “Source”

To get water, we pulled a stick from this rock on the hillside 1/2 mile from home

Our House

Our house. Note the overhang with corrugated metal: the toilet (1/2 wine barrel covered with two planks)

Herd

Ay_liz_a_bet_a with Baby, her favorite goat

Cleaning the mess in front of the house

Ricky and Jacques

Beauty

The hanging sausages: “like bells”

My herd

Illusive and others with Mon Rosa in the background

Ay-liz-a-bet-a

With sheep as well as goats and cow. Eating at the barn means a day humans are celebrating  at the house.

Twenty years later (2000)

Twenty years later (2000): The land and beautiful Camargue horse look the same. My daughter in foreground.

Twenty years later (2000)

Twenty years later (2000): No goats, but land is still beautiful. My niece, daughter, me, and Jacques.

 

Teacher, Speaker

E.C. Murray teaches Creative Writing at both Seattle Central College and Tacoma Community College. Her writing format focuses on three central areas from which all writing flows: character, plot and prose. Additionally, she speaks at writing workshops and forums from libraries to colleges as well as service clubs and community functions.  To book an event, contact her publicist C.R. Wissmann at crwissmann@gmail.com.

Teaching 2 2017

Students and audiences say:

I loved your teaching style and was amazed at how much information was imparted in a fun, lively and open environment. DG

Thank you so much Elizabeth.  I greatly appreciate the instruction you gave us and the encouragement you gave me.

I’m energized to continue. JD

I really enjoyed your class. Although I have no plans to pursue writing as a career I did get a lot of pointers that will improve my essays. Thank you for your encouraging words regarding my work. CB

I … think you are such a great instructor who really shows your passion for what you do.  I was inspired when I took your first class and this class was such an excellent way to learn this wonderful craft of writing.  I now feel like I am on my way to writing my first book or memoir and I look forward to reading your next book! CJ

Gig Harbor Library 1

Up Coming Signings and Presentations

ECM_w_goats photo

2018

February 24, 2018 Liberty Bay Books, 409 Pacific Ave., Bremerton, Wa. 2:00-3:00 P.M.

March 22, 2018 Third Place Books Seward Park, 5041 Wilson Ave. S, Seattle, Wa. 98118

2016

May 24, 2016 Gig Harbor Library, Gig Harbor, WA. 6:30 – 8:00 P.M.

May 28, 2016, Bellevue Barnes and Noble, Crossroads, Bellevue, WA. 1:00 – 3:00 P.M.

June 7, 2016, Holyoke Public Library, Holyoke, MA., 1:30 – 2:30 P.M.

June 21, 2016, 6:30 P.M. Kiwanas, 7445 S. Homer St., Tacoma, WA.

June 28, 2016, 1:00 P.M., Bonney Lake Library, Bonney Lake, WA.

 

 

Event Calendar April-June 2016

April 9, Sat. 9:00 AM Book Signing; Barnes and Noble; Alderwood Mall

April 14, Thurs., 7:00 P.M. Morso’s –with other writers, Gig  Harbor

April 21, Tuesday, 6:30 PM Island Books, Mercer Island “April in Paris” event with other authors

April 29, Friday, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM, KSER radio, 90.7 Everett, Snohomish

May 7, Saturday, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Barnes and Noble, Bellevue

May 24, Tuesday, 6:30 – 8:00 PM, Gig Harbor Library, Gig Harbor, Wa.

June 7, Tuesday, 1:30 – 2:30, Holyoke Public Library, Holyoke, Ma.

The Intimacy of Memoirs…and Beyond

Thanks to you who’ve written thoughtful notes about A Long Way from Paris. I’ve loved the goat photos,  the stories of travels in France, some stretching back to World War II, and the honesty of those  who relate to feeling “less than,” not up to par, not good enough. That’s what memoirs are about: resonating with others’ hearts and souls, revealing the parts of ourselves we often prefer to stay buried.

A student of mine recently committed suicide. She didn’t know many others in our small class, but writing memoir is an intimate process in which strangers feel strangely connected. A knot grew in my stomach, puffed like yeasty bread, and I realized I’d denied dealing with her death—truly wrestled with and accepted it—until I had to face my other students. That’s what memoir is about. Saying aloud that which we’d rather hide away; confronting our emotions that aren’t actually demons, but difficult, often painful tugs on our heart that we’d prefer not see the light of day. And yet, by speaking out loud–and here’s where the cliché comes in –by speaking our truths—we become deeper, clearer, more empathetic beings and so, too, our stories. We become models for the people we touch.

Cape Cod Pochet boardwalkMy next book is actually not a memoir. It is a mystery; a fairly light one indeed. Do you remember hearing about when Dylan was booed off the stage in Newport for switching from folk music to electric? Well, grandiose as it may sound, I feel a bit of kinship. Memoir is excruciatingly difficult to write. Next, I wanted something lighter. After all, Harriet the Spy was my favorite book growing up, I read every Nancy Drew book in fourth grade, and in college, if I felt depressed, I turned to Rex Stout. So forgive me as I switch to lighter fare. Soon you will meet Lori Orondo who’s at her wits end with her wayward son, Austin, and Amanda Perkins, a former rival from college, and Nicole Whryrll, the volatile friend and neighbor, all of whom are wrapped in the shooting of Scott, the charming pharmacy tech with a questionable past.

We all need relief now and then. You never know from whom you’ll find wisdom, but Mel Gibson (I know. Really??) said, movies should 1.) Entertain 2.) Educate 3.) Elevate. I hope the same for my books. And yes, they can even be a little fun.

Much gratitude to all. EC Murray

Why would anyone write a memoir?

photo (1)

I sometimes wonder why on earth I wanted to write a memoir. Why would anyone want to delve into personal tragedies, pain, struggles. Or, be honest. Be vulnerable. Who wants that?

When I first pitched my story about living off the grid in the mountains of southern France, an agent said, “Oh no. It must be more – how you grew; what you learned from your experience; what it meant to you. So I dug and I dug and today, six years later I am so sick of this f***memoir.

So, again, why write a memoir? Purging is no reason. Information dump is not a memoir. At the very least, hopefully, one can grow from another’s experiences, learn from other’s mistakes, and feel a sense of empathy from another’s words. And aren’t we all figuring out that empathizing, the “walking a mile in another’s shoes,” is about as important as anything we can do?

“Was it worth it?” my friend Pam asked. “Reading one hundred memoirs in one big surge?”

Absolutely. Mostly, because the project led me to stories I’d never have read otherwise. Take, Tobias Wolff’s Pharoahs of the Army, a collection about war. But, actually, it’s not about war; it’s about people. People who react humanely in an otherwise inhumane setting. It’s about people with war all around them.

Like every school child who grew up during Vietnam, I watched the nightly television news and saw gruesome images of severed arms, bloodied legs, napalmed children. I did not wish to read about war. Any yet, I can’t recommend Pharoahs more strongly.

  1. The Voices in My Head by Emma Forest
  2. The House of Sky by Ivan Doig
  3. My Life with My Brother by Nicholas Sparks
  4. Finding Grace by Donna Van Liere666
  5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson
  6. The Road to Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam
  7. Boys in My Youth by JoAnn Beard
  8. I’m All Over That by Shirley McClaine
  9. Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See by Mike May
  10. The Sparkled Eye Boy by Amy Benson
  11. My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
  12. A House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  13. Drinking by Caroline Knapp