Pam’s special gift is listening for the authentic voice of a writer to emerge. Her groups are designed to welcome and nourish this voice. When I began to write from my life, she heard me before I did.
Katherine Clarke, Professor Emeritus, Antioch University New England
Pam Bernard revived the dormant writer in me. Shortly after I retired from a decades-long career at The Toadstool Bookshop, I felt the urge to record and reflect upon some of the more significant events in my life, on the good and the bad and, even, the ugly. I had done a lot of writing earlier in my life, but had let it go for years. I wasn't sure I could still craft a compelling sentence. Turns out I can. That's thanks to Pam. She is a gifted teacher, always supportive and encouraging, and has a deep understanding of the craft of memoir. Joining her workshop is one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Jeff Smull, Alstead, NH, retired general manager of Toadstool Bookstore
Studying the craft of memoir writing with Pam for the last year has opened up the world for me. There is so much to value: the craft lessons, the free writes, fellow writers and their works and the feedback from them and Pam. More than anything, this process has led me to find the forgiveness that has eluded me, despite my deep desire for it and years of therapy. Exploring my life deeply with others allows me to see my past in a different and softer light. This workshop is my saving grace in the time of covid-19.
Maureen Daylor, Brattleboro, VT, retired special educator
These workshops have not only improved my writing, but Pam has gently led me on a journey of discovering my own story. I've surprised myself many times! The workshop is one of the highlights of my week.
Mona Anderson, Alstead, NH, retired therapist
The experience of discovering my story and then connecting it with my current life has been richly rewarding. I could not have done this without the guidance and support that Pam has provided. At times, I have found myself on treacherous ground as I have navigated the emotions and revelations of both the past and present. Pam has educated me about the craft of writing and has consistently had my back during the many challenges of the process.
Roger Weinreich, Gilsum, NH, musician, artist, former firefighter
Pam’s workshop is the highlight of my week. Pam leads each session with skill and warmth, bringing the process of memoir writing alive with support and creativity. As I began to write and to identify the deeper themes, I realized I had a way to shape them into a story others could share. I could only have done this within the supportive and generous community of writers Pam has created.
Patti Whalen, Westminster, VT, retired judge
I feel incredibly grateful to be part of Pam’s memoir group. The experience has nurtured my spirit, my sense of possibilities, and writing skills. Pam has provided a most precious meeting ground with cherished companions on the journey. Her special qualities as a kind and dedicated mentor fosters a climate of trust, humor, warmth, and curiosity. She meets each us where we are and guides us tirelessly. Pam helps us bring skill to intuition, and that makes us better writers.
I feel cherished, encouraged to risk, and inspired to bring my very best. Her lessons always provide me with a keen appreciation for the craft of writing. Who knew there would be so many exciting ways to dive into the craft that also opens my heart, shares my truth, surprises me, and nudges me to rethink old stories? Excerpts from published memoirists spark questions and open doors. As well, each participant's feedback has helped me “hear” my story with fresh ears.
All of these elements that provide structure to the workshop have encouraged me to share my story with more skill. I am inspired to review my life with interest and compassion. In doing so, I soothe and comfort that very young part of me who did not feel heard. What could be more restorative than revisiting key times in our lives with the desire to develop fresh insight, compassion and courage to speak?
Alison Scott, Peterborough, NH, graphic artist, photographer
Pam Bernard's memoir class is a safe, nurturing place to share writing that ventures in to those sometimes uncomfortable spaces that live within our memory and ourselves. Her ability to praise and critique, allows the student to go deeper into their ability to express themselves and to find meaning in their lives. Being part of the class has been a privilege. Not only doing the work myself but listening to other's sharing of themselves has opened my mind and greatly enriched my life.
Sarah Franklin, Keene, NH, dancer, teacher
My family has an interest in my writing memoir and to this end, my husband gave me the gift of Pam's memoir workshop. I found a warm welcome and the wonderful support of other adults who bring a variety of life experiences to their writing. It was definitely positive.
Michelle Hansen, retired physician
Pam Bernard's memoir class changed my life! I thought that I had something to say but I didn't know how to say it.
Frankie Brackley Toleman, botanist, artist, teacher
I learned to love the challenge of writing with all my senses, of finding the right words to tell my story. It is what I take away from this class, what I could only learn by being challenged to do my best writing each and every week.
Nancy Wilson, historian
Pam provides a safe and supportive atmosphere that empowers class members to write and rewrite, sometimes about painful personal memories, until they have produced fine work.
Ginny Harvey Dawson, author of Counseling and School Psychology
When I sit down at my laptop to work on my memoir, it is possible
only because of the writing I was encouraged to do in Pam Bernard's memoir class.
David Robins, retired UU minister, author of The Shotgun
I've participated in several of Pam's workshops over the past two years and each time have come away with some new gems. First, let me say that Pam is a very bright, knowledgeable, creative and generous teacher. She knows her craft, brings to class excellent examples of other's writings to demonstrate a specific point, and invites lively discussion from group participants. I appreciate her wonderful listening skills and her capacity to offer both verbal and written feedback in a very honest, direct, specific and kind way.
Pam has a lovely way of helping participants tease out and uncover emotional truths in the telling of our stories. Her passion is contagious. I also love the format of her three-hour workshops: teaching a specific aspect of the craft of writing memoir; an opportunity for a 'free write'; inviting participants to bring in longer pieces for critique from Pam as well as the group.
Personally, I have learned a great deal from her and continue to do so. When writing memoir, I've developed a genuine appreciation that in order for it to be juicy, I need to write both from the voice of the young child (adolescent, young adult) and for the adult who is reflecting back. Without that authentic child's voice, coupled with the insight that the act of writing often miraculously produces, one is merely sharing what happened. Dry reading, as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps Pam's approach appeals to the therapist in me who is always seeking, through questions, the meaning a particular event has had in one's life, one's development.
Pam's workshops have helped me appreciate the value in slowing down, rather than trying to tell 'the whole story.' With difficulty, I'm learning to unpack an event, elaborate more and, as Pam would say, "bring the reader to scene." In closing, I have tremendous admiration and respect for who Pam is and all that she has to offer. She's a gift to this area and a warm, funny, lovely human being to boot!
Yvette Yeager, Keene, NH, retired therapist