Joanne Fedler's Courses

The writer's journey

Why would anyone care about your story?

You may think you’ve done done nothing special. That you’re no-one important.

But what constitutes a ‘nothing special,’ ‘unimportant life’?

I healed from a chronic illness. I left an abusive marriage. I stayed after the affair. I left my homeland. I left my religion. I lost a child. I nursed my dying mother. I was sexually abused. My child was sexually abused. I was abandoned. I’m living with breast cancer. My family rejected me. I had post-natal depression. I’m living with depression. I adopted an abandoned child. I was widowed young. I was raped. My daughter was raped. I raised four children alone. I decided to keep the baby. I was a prostitute. I am a prostitute. My child is a drug addict. I’m raising a disabled child. I am disabled. I couldn’t have children. I tried to commit suicide. My child committed suicide.

Each one of these stories is a narrative of survival, a testament to the strength of the human spirit. They show us what it takes to leave an abusive marriage, what it asks of the human spirit to forgive a rapist and what work is needed to heal an illness. They speak of growth, resilience and transformation – and this is the medicine the world needs now.

Whenever we stitch ourselves back into the fabric of life with words, we create a groove for someone else in which to rest her own tremulousness. One person’s courage breaks ground for others. Our personal voices speak into the universal voice.

In troubled times, our responsibility as writers is to use our words to inspire, nourish and grow the spirit – our own, each other’s, the planet and the Great Spirit that runs through all things.

Your life is not insignificant. Your life is not small. Your life touches my life. We are all connected.

What if you trusted that your story could change someone’s life?

How would you share that gift with others?

What makes me different from other writing mentors

  • I’ve written and published ten books in five different genres (literary fiction, commercial fiction, memoir, narrative non-fiction and self-help);
  • my books have sold over 650 000 copies worldwide;
  • I’ve been teaching, writing and mentoring writers for ten years;
  • most writing mentors focus on craft. I focus on consciousness – who you are as a writer and what message you have to share. I know that consciousness fuels craft  – only when we know why we want to write and what we want to write, do we need to learn how to do it perfectly for our genre and market;
  • I help writers connect with the soul of their book- we find the heartbeat together;
  • my years as a counsellor for abused women equipped me to listen deeply to what people say and to feel for the story hiding in their words;
  • my legal training gave me solid training in logic and structure (essential in writing);
  • as a women’s rights advocate and CEO of a not-for-profit legal advocacy centre, I learned to be a practical strategist: how do we get our message into the market and call people to action (i.e buy books)?;
  • In 2014 I did a year long business programme for entrepreneurs to master the fundamentals of branding, marketing, pitching, profile and platform (which are essential for commercial success);
  • In 1994 Hustler magazine made me Asshole of the Month because of my advocacy work against violent pornography – I’m tough and robust and I’ll teach you to be resilient (you need it if you want to be an author).

Who Are You to Write? (On Stroke Correction and Conviction)

These are excerpts from my diary in 2001, four years before my first novel The Dreamcloth was published. Some years ago, I decided it was time to learn how to swim properly. I mean, I'd had swimming lessons as a kid, but stopped as soon as there was no danger I'd...

Unrequited Love

The first time my heart was broken, my mother, who’d never read a single self-help book in her life, passed me a tissue, and informed me that no man in the universe was worth one of my tears. I was going to wallow, write tormented poetry and spend six months in my...

Why Writing about Your Experience Is Not Narcissistic

As writers, we sometimes shirk away from writing about our own particularities because we don't want to be ‘narcissistic,’ or ‘self-involved.’ It's a good point. Our internal musings about our childhood, illness, divorce or particular form of heartache may bore and...

Girlfriends

Men are good for a great number of jobs, I’m thinking specifically of killing spiders and changing tyres, but they are useless when it comes to a second opinion when shopping for a new outfit and repeating the conversation they just had on the phone which you know...

Meeting Dylan

To begin at the beginning. No – let’s go back, back to before then. It is an apricot day in the big whirly world, spring-sprung and parchment-pink. Dylan fills the doorway of his china-tiny writing room, buffalo-tired, refusing to budge to the write or the left,...

The Stories Our Wardrobes Tell

‘Can I wear this?’ my teenage daughter asked, holding up a black silk shirt from my wardrobe. ‘I need a black top for drama and I don’t have one.’ ‘Ummmm….’ I paused, remembering that the last time I wore that shirt, it was ripped off me in a moment of passion by a...

What Makes It Worth It

‘Is it worth it?’ ‘Tell me I can.’ ‘Not sure why I’m doing this.’ ‘There are so many books out there, why will mine matter?’ As a writing mentor, I field these apprehensions from writers every day. I wish I had a magic pass I could dispense to dissolve these angsts...

Dueling with a Four-Year-Old

There is a world, a ‘place of tomorrow,’ Kahlil Gibran writes, in which our children’s souls dwell, which ‘we cannot visit, not even in our dreams.’ That world of fairies and elves my daughter inhabits is a familiar, beckoning place. I delight in her lilting musings...

The Biggest Birthday Yet

Good lord, it is two days to my 50th birthday. I am not ready to own such a majestic number, never mind have to blow out that many birthday candles. Also, it means I have to stop ‘turning’ 50 and just be 50. I have literally devoted my entire 49th year to getting to...

6 Mistakes Authors Make When They Start Writing

How to Avoid These Mistakes When You Start Writing I consider the longing to write a noble calling to the voice hidden inside us. Helping others get their stories out is part of what gets me out of bed each day. I know our stories can change the lives of others, which...

Books That Made a Difference in My Life

When I was in my early teens, my father introduced me to Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, a play for voices. I became enchanted with language.

What Is My ‘Voice’ and How Do I Find It?

When we start writing, we’re told we have to find our ‘voice.’ Naturally, we begin looking for it.
It’s not under the pile of unopened mail.

The Turning: Reflections on Reaching 50

I am taking the business of turning 50 terribly seriously. I am dedicating the twelve months since my 49th birthday to this incongruous milestone, given that the actual age of my physical body – half a freaking century – and how I feel inside couldn’t be further apart...

Bedrock

Virginia can’t say if she is claustrophobic herself. She’s never been this far inside a cave before. The little spelunking she did as a child along the coast of the Western Cape was hide-and-seek with bare-footed cousins, in sea-carved rocky alcoves.

Ageing Songlines

I find myself wondering more and more about her warning. Is it really obscene to grow old? I mean, what are a couple of white hairs, a bit of sagging skin, leathery arms and the odd stray facial hair? Really.

Don’t Tell Me the Moon is Shining: A Golden Rule of Writing for Aspiring Authors

One of the trickier ‘golden rules of great writing’ that can be difficult to understand and execute is the ‘show don’t tell’ rule.

A Man’s Job

There is, however, a fine line between an acceptance of these jobs as ‘natural’ and the slippery slope into boorish gender stereotypes in which I am invariably left unshod with a frilly apron at the kitchen sink. Whilst I can do anything if I wish to, I do believe there are certain tasks I, as a woman, am simply and without further explanation excused from. I don’t want to get into a conversation about it and I don’t want to fight about it.

A Harvest of Hindsight: My top 10 insights about publishing for aspiring authors

My being here is actually not about me. It’s about you. My new book is about you – and your story. So I thought what would be the most helpful input I could give you, as an unpublished author at this point in your writing journey. Here are my top 10 insights or lessons that I’ve learned over the past 12 years as a published author. Things I wish I’d known. A harvest of hindsight in the hope that it will help you to get more quickly where you want to go.

Ready to write Your Story?

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