The Origin Story

Category: Blog

My mother used to tell me, “I haven’t had a happy life, but I’ve had a fascinating one.” She was a trained opera singer, who left the stage for motherhood and banishment to the suburbs to raise two daughters.  Eventually she migrated back to New York City, took courses in pre-Columbian art, and built an extensive collection of more than 100 pieces.  My mother never did anything by halves.

My mother’s life spanned the entire twentieth century.  Born in 1915 right after the start of World War I, she struggled with her desire to establish a career for herself, against the admonition of a father who said, “You’ll be taking a job away from someone who really needs it;” and a husband who thought that time away from home was time away from him.  To me my mother’s life was emblematic of the changes happening for women after World War II.  Although she was never part of the Women’s Liberation Movement (she was too old by the time young women starting burning their bras and reading Betty Friedan) she had a mind of her own.

Crafting Her Life Story

I asked her if I could interview her and write her life story.  Her initial response was, “Who in the world would be interested?” The fact that I was didn’t count for much.  But when a group of ladies visited her Manhattan apartment, and she gave a tour of her pre-Columbian art collection, someone said, “My, you’ve had an interesting life.  You really should write a book.”

And there I was – waiting in the wings.  Over a period of two years we trundled back and forth from the East Coast to the West Coast grabbing days and evenings when I would record our interview sessions.  I published her book, which was entitled “I Turned A Key and the Birds Began to Sing.”  Voila, my mother was an author.  She gave away her book to close friends, and acquaintances in the art world, and kept a copy prominently displayed on her living room coffee table.

When my mother passed away, I gave the eulogy and took words out of the pages of her memoir so that she would have a chance to “speak” one last time.  
I had a light bulb moment when I realized that other people might need a writing partner.  And so Write Wisdom was born ten years ago.  For a while I kept my day job working as a major fundraiser for the Anti-Defamation League, but once my feet were firmly underneath me, I was able to leave an organization that I had served for fifteen years, and officially open the doors to Write Wisdom and Provenance Press. What was amazing is that many of the wonderful people I met at ADL asked me to write a book for them – so I found myself with a built-in client base.

Write Wisdom is Born

Fast forward, ten years.  Write Wisdom has a team of 8 professionals who work with me.  Some of our clients find us through word of mouth; occasionally I am in the media and someone will jot down my contact info and call me the next day or the following year… when they are ready.  I never get tired of hearing people’s fascinating stories and life journeys. 

Thanks, Mom, for showing me the way to make other people’s voices sing on the page.