Pat McNees

Writer, editor, ghostwriter, personal historian

"You do have a story inside you; it lies articulate and waiting to be written — behind your silence and your suffering." ~Anne Rice

Quick Links

Find Authors

Events


Washington Biography Group

Meeting steadily since 1986


Our next regular meeting is Monday, January 22, 2018
7 to 8:45 pm promptly
Washington International School, Goodman Room
Topic: How does new news affect your writing, particularly when it changes the course of your narrative
What happens, for example, if your subject is accused of wrongdoing? And how do you handle it?
Even if the wrongdoing is old news, how do you handle it?


Our last regular meeting, led by Ruth Selig, was Monday, Oct. 23, 2017
7 to 8:45 pm promptly
Washington International School, Goodman Room
Topic: Balancing the author's narrative with quoted materials (from diaries, letters, published articles, radio broadcasts, etc.)

This may sound like a "technical" topic but it can also lead to a discussion of why and how quoted materials can be helpful (or not), and when if used injudiciously they can overshadow other elements of narrative. Possible sub- or side topics:

When is it best to summarize or synthesize or paraphrase all or part of long quotes?
What's the ideal length of quotations (what's too short or too long)?
How do various authors set off quotations of various length and type (and what seems most effective)? Are there "rules" about such things?
Note how some publishers put long quotes in very small type so that readers are inclined to skip over them.
Should we correct original quotations (and how) or insert [sic] when not doing so, to indicate that we know something is wrong?
When might it be best to put lengthy quotations in an appendix, etc.
When is it necessary to clear permissions?
Watch for good examples to bring to share in the discussion.

• Go here here for more about Washington Biography Group: Washington Biography Group
• Get on Pat's e-letter list to get the details. Put "WBG" in your message.
• Go here here for more about Washington Biography Group: Washington Biography Group

During the school year, the WBG meets once a month, usually on a
Monday from 7 to 8:45 pm at the
Washington International School
3100 Macomb St., NW
Washington DC 20008
Drive up the long driveway all the way to the top.
We meet in the Goodman Room (new name for the Terrace Room) in the main building.
Members often bring a snack or drink to share. I (Pat) send out e-mail notices of the meeting dates and topics, which are also posted under 'Events' on both Pat McNees's website (www.patmcnees.com) and her Writers and Editors site: www.writersandeditors.com) . (You can ask Pat to add you to the distribution list)
. Go here for fuller instructions on where the WBG meets.
Details go out in Pat McNees's e-letter to the WBG (you can ask her to add you to the distribution list, now at 300+).
To be added to the e-mail list and receive meeting notices and Pat's e-letter about memoir and biography, send a message to Pat's WBG email: (spelled out to elude spammers: washingtonbookgroup at gmail dot com
(Convert that to traditional e-mail formula,) What you get is periodic e-letters full of links related to life story writing, plus notices about our meetings (or big events in the lives of members).

Occasionally parking is a slight problem, if the school is also holding an evening event. At one meeting someone came in and said the owner of an SUV had left its lights on. Marc responded, "This is not an SUV kind of group" and sure enough, it wasn't one of us (although there are SUVs among us).


Books Alive, an annual conference about books organized by David O. Stewart and the crew of the Washington Independent Review of Books, usually has a panel or two about biography and memoir. This year's conference will be April 28-29, 201, at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Hyattsville, MD). For more info: www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/​page/​washington-writers-conference-2017

The Biographers International conference returns to Boston for its 2017 Compleat Biographer conference (May 19-21, 2017). Check out BIO's conference archives.

My Life, One Story at a Time
6 Wednesdays, Jan. 18 to Feb. 22, 2017
7:15 --9:45 pm


Pat McNees's workshop

What will be written on your headstone? What will your obituary say? How will you be remembered, and what has your life meant? The goal in this nontraditional workshop of short personal writing (a slightly modified version of James Birren's Guided Autobiography) is to capture your personal and family legacy for the next generation, the friends and family who will survive you. Knowing that you are writing not for publication but to set the record straight--in your own mind, as much as anything--may liberate you, allowing you to examine with candor your important life choices and experiences, achievements and mistakes, beliefs and convictions. You will write one piece each week, to read aloud, including one piece (500 words or less) to bring for the first night, to introduce yourself with. (Assignment 1: A turning point in your life. Ask Pat for more detail.)

Through a series of exercises designed to open a rich vein of personal material, you will begin the exploration and storytelling that may help you tell you personal or family history. No whining, no boasting, no name dropping, and no critiquing: Just an honest examination of what went on in your life or your family, with an emphasis on telling the stories and fleshing out the characters you find there. This course, which grew out of the warm-up exercises for Pat's workshop on ethical wills, will encourage you to reminisce deeply: to mine your life (and family) experiences for personal stories, myths, themes, and values.

My Life, One Story at a Time
6 Wednesdays, Jan. 18 to Feb. 22, 2017
7:15--9:45 pm
Instructor Pat McNees
The Writer's Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815
Phone: 301 654-8664
Writer's Center workshops (search for McNees or title of course)
http:/​/​www.writer.org
postmaster@​writer.org
$270 (less for members; most of fee goes to support the Writer's Center)

You can e-mail postmaster@​writer.org and ask to be notified when workshops go on-line for registration. Include your mailing address and ask for a hard copy of their brochure of workshops.

Check out Pat's article on The Beneficial Effects of Life Story and Legacy Activities (first published in Geriatric Care Management Journal, Spring 2009). But hey -- young people benefit, too!

Guided Autobiography


Pat McNees's workshop
Six Wednesday evening sessions

led by Pat McNees
7:15 P.M.-9:45 P.M.
The Writer's Center, 4508 Walsh Street,
Bethesda, MD 20815 (301) 654-8664
Writer's Center online
http:/​/​www.writer.org
postmaster@​writer.org


James Birren developed the simple but effective process of Guided Autobiography (for which Pat was trained) Each week, including the first week, participants will write and read aloud a two-page story from their life based on a theme (for example, Money -- or Love). The idea: to help you (and your survivors) see the patterns in your life. First week's assignment (participants will receive a handout from the instructor prior to the start date): the Major Branching Points of Your Life.
How will you be remembered, and what has your life meant? The goal in this nontraditional workshop of short personal writing is to capture your personal and family legacy for the next generation, the friends and family who will survive you. Knowing that you are writing not for publication but to set the record straight--in your own mind, as much as anything--may liberate you, allowing you to examine with candor your important life choices and experiences, achievements and mistakes, beliefs and convictions. Formerly Life stories and legacy writing.

Through a series of exercises designed to open a rich vein of personal material, you will begin the exploration and storytelling that may help you tell you personal or family history. No whining, no boasting, no name dropping: Just an honest examination of what went on in your life or your family, with an emphasis on telling the stories and fleshing out the characters you find there. This course, which grew out of the warm-up exercises for Pat's workshop on ethical wills, will encourage you to reminisce deeply: to mine your life (and family) experiences for personal stories, myths, themes, and values.

Instructor Pat McNees
The Writer's Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815
$270

You can e-mail postmaster@​writer.org and ask to be notified when workshops go on-line for registration. Include your mailing address and ask for a hard copy of their brochure of workshops.

Check out Pat's article on The Beneficial Effects of Life Story and Legacy Activities (first published in Geriatric Care Management Journal, Spring 2009). But hey -- young people benefit, too!


The Moth: Storytellers Finding Success on Stages Large and Small: Going Solo Gets Crowded by Alex Williams, NYTimes 8-14-09; Songs of Themselves (Jim O'Grady, NYTimes, 11-14-08); and The Moth, a nonprofit group that runs storytelling events in New York and Los Angeles.


Dancing in DC


Here's the dance calendar for Glen Echo Park, where most ballroom dancing goes on in the beautiful Spanish Ballroom, though some dances are held in the fresh-air-conditioned Bumper Car Pavilion (repurposed for dancing during the ballroom's renovation) or in the small but nice "Back Room" (behind the Spanish Ballroom), where Blues Dancing is now taught. Click here for info on social dance classes (and a look at the beautiful ballroom).

For those who miss the old LaSalle Orchestra, there's good news: The once-a-month Sunday afternoon tea dance now features the Hot Society Orchestra, which plays music from the '20s, '30s, and '40s: foxtrot, waltz, two-step, cha cha, swing, rumba, etc. This group is brand new to Glen Echo and plays very danceable music!

For more dancing in the capital area, check out the information and schedules at
Dancing: A Guide to the Capital Area
DC DanceNet
Dave Moldover's excellent site (especially for country, hustle, hand dancing, & West Coast swing)
Capital Tangueros
Fools Night Out (Scott Mitchell's site, good for Cajun/​​Zydeco, Latin, Swing, and other dancing, plus venues for blues, swing, rockabilly, zydeco, and occasionally Latin, Ska, and Cajun music)
Contra Dancing
Irish céilís and set dances
Folk dancing





Writing a Legacy Letter

If you had only one hour to live and the only way to communicate with survivors was to leave them a letter, what would you write -- and to whom would you write it?

Events like Hurricane Katrina and the shocking mass murder at Virginia Tech remind us of the fragility of life. This workshop will help you figure out what personal messages,
stories, or life lessons you want to leave for those who survive you. Often written in the form of a loving letter, the legacy letter (a version of what some call an ethical will) is a way to explore and articulate who you are, what you have learned in life, what
you value, and what you wish for the family members who survive you.

Your last will and testament conveys what you want your loved ones to have -- and is legally binding. The legacy letter is an informal message that conveys what you want your survivors to know--which may include how you want to be remembered, what you cherish and regret, what you forgive and apologize for, what you loved (maybe even chuckled about) about your loved ones, and other important things you would not want left unsaid should you die unexpectedly.

Nothing scheduled yet
The Writer's Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815
Phone: 301 654-8664, Fax: 301 654-8667
http:/​/​www.writer.org
email: postmaster@​writer.org
http:/​/​www.writer.org/​index.asp (online info and registry)
Writing a Legacy Letter
Code for registering: SU07NON51B
Members $50; nonmembers $65

Books, articles, and more

Writing or telling life stories
Everyone has a story to tell. What's keeping you from telling yours? Become a storykeeper or personal historian or find one.
A loving testament, or legacy letter, sharing your life experiences and lessons with the next generation
Learn to write articles, reports, ethical wills, or life stories (memoirs and beyond).
Mom — hardworking, sassy, and full of surprises
Mutual support and discussion
Social history through the life of an ordinary Midwestern businessman.
Dancing, food, good books, and other diversions
Favorites of several book groups
What is the single lunch-bag item most hated by all children?
What heightens the caviar experience is the price of those little gray or black sturgeon eggs.
Links to dancing venues and calendars for the Washington, D.C. area.
Midlife "first dates"
Did she fall in love with the man or the waltz?
Also related: jive, hustle, hand-dancing.
All the dancing your feet can take
Choosing a school of dance
Contra, English country, international, Irish, Israeli, Scandinavian, Scottish
The big ones, with dirty stems
"A rich, varied, and highly rewarding collection," says Joyce Carol Oates
Ceilis (Irish dancing)
Medical mysteries, patient stories, and practical links
John Travolta played the boy in the movie. The real story ended far differently.
Thin little Marian had a cholesterol problem most people have never heard of.
You've probably never heard of this national research hospital and clinic. But someone you know may be able to benefit from it directly and all of us do, indirectly.
Understanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the debate on health care reform. Avoiding medical errors
Dying, mourning, and other inevitable events
"This remarkable collection, coming from personal experience and wide reading, will help many find the potential of growth through loss." --Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement
For those dying, for caregivers, and for the bereaved
Listen to samples of popular songs and music
Girls and science
Cool science sites
Best practices for teaching science--to strengthen the science workforce.
Some links and a selection
Practical matters
Identify children's learning styles and improve their ability to learn.
Six weeks to hassle-free homework.
Why parents should be concerned.
Public speaking is a craft, not an art. It can be learned.
Can you wash it if it says "dry clean"?
Fact vs. fantasy
One woman's story.
Don't focus on the fabric.
Organizational histories
A frank history of the Young Presidents' Organization.
The little lift truck that could — a story of brilliant marketing in America's heartland.
Online Shopping
Best places to shop online