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My Latest Book - A Memoir
by Wendy Priesnitz

It Hasn't Shut Me Up - A MemoirMy book of memoirs entitled It Hasn't Shut Me Up has been published. The title is based on the fact that my mother and maternal grandmother were forever shushing me when I was a child, adhering to the notion that children should be seen and not heard. (You might say they achieved the opposite result.)

It is about being my mother's daughter, and how that has influenced me as a woman and a mother. It's presented as a tapestry woven with prose, poetry, and family photographs. Unlike most of my other work, it is a personal piece of writing about overcoming our own oppressive and silencing parenting in order to offer our children a relationship that respects, honors, and trusts them to grow and develop with dignity.

For many of us, one of the journeys of our lives is to find peace with the way we were parented. Women, especially, seem to need to understand themselves in the context of their mothers (if only not to become them!). After my mother died a few years ago, I began to sort through the truths and mythologies of fifty-eight years of life with her. And I realized that many of the lessons we teach our children are not the ones we intended them to learn. For instance, my mother bequeathed to me her stubbornness and strength, which I have used to challenge authority and power – quite the opposite from the way she used those traits. Also by reverse example, she taught me about the need to respect and trust children. Similarly, her silence about so many things taught me about the importance of speaking out about that and many other things.

Memoir is a difficult writing form, especially when some of the people involved are still alive, as are my two daughters and my husband of forty-three years, Rolf. As I wrote, it seemed that my normal style of writing plainly and with honesty wasn't enough. I was acutely conscious of not putting words into my mother’s and my daughters’ mouths. I knew that I was filtering their lives through my own perspective and wanted that to be fair and accurate, to treat them with respect while telling what is, after all, my own story.

 Many times, the risk that I had wanted to take in writing about myself sat staring at me like the lens of the webcam perched atop my monitor. I also found that there were limits – perhaps finite ones – to using my experience as a daughter to understand and benefit my role as a mother. And as I began to weave together the two stories of my relationships with my mother and my daughters, I realized that there are some things that I might never understand, some insights I might not have or be able to pass along. I was also aware that I didn’t want to dehumanize my mother as I railed against her treatment of me. So while I didn’t exactly have writer’s block, the book languished for a while.

Eventually, I found my voice – or the book's voice, perhaps more accurately – and it became hard to stop tweaking and fine-tuning, adding and subtracting. Ultimately, I am pleased that nothing has shut me up and that I can share in this little e-book whatever wisdom I have gained from being a daughter and a mother.

I do not anticipate this book being published in print format. Over the past couple of years, my company Life Media has followed our customers and industry trends into digital format. For better or for worse for those (like me) who love print publications, the popularity of the digital format (and the massive changes in the book publishing  and retailing industries) now makes it uneconomical for us to publish in print. It Hasn't Shut Me Up is available here, if you're interested. I am immensely honored by everyone who has already purchased it.

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Natural Life Books specializes in adult non-fiction about ways that families and individuals can live and learn on Planet Earth in a healthy, socially responsible, environmentally sound, self-reliant manner. We are the retail division of The Alternate Press, an imprint of Life Media, an independent, family-owned book and magazine publishing house established in 1976. We are proud to publish books and other information products about homeschooling and life learning (also known as unschooling).

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