It was standing room only at Edmonds’ Cafe Louvre coffee shop on Tuesday evening for a very special book signing and reading that left many reaching for their handkerchiefs.
“Behind Closed Doors: Stories From the Inside Out,” a collection of deeply personal narratives, is the result of months of work by a group of Scriber Lake students under the direction of English teacher Marjie Bowker, an 18-year veteran of the Edmonds School District.
The book’s forward sums it up: “We have come together as writers — some facing our lives for the first time on paper — to open the doors of our souls. We have traveled back into the darkness through hospital doors, closet doors and prison doors, through doors of the heart and the mind, to remember the details of the people and events that have changed us.”
“This is definitely not your typical creative writing class,” says Bowker. “These are deeply personal stories where the authors explore the people, places and things, that have shaped their lives.”
Bowker has been spearheading this innovative program at Scriber Lake since 2011. The current work joins “We Are Absolutely Not Okay,” and “You’ve Got It All Wrong,” products of the two previous Scriber writing groups.
“Key to the success of this program is the invaluable help and inspiration we receive from Ingrid Ricks,” says Bowker. Ricks, author the New York Times Best Seller coming-of-age memoir “Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story,” has collaborated with Bowker from the beginning, and takes an active role in the class.
“I always knew what happened, but I didn’t find the power behind the story until I actually wrote it down,” says Ricks of the memoir of her rough teenage years. “I feel incredibly privileged to be working with these amazing young people to help them find the power of their stories.”
The young authors have clearly been transformed. After reading excerpts from their stories, they shared some of their experiences as they wrote, re-wrote, and edited their works until they were ready for publication.
Here are some of their comments:
“The writing process is a way to get everything out.” — Destanee Stock
“To get it all down, we had to re-live the past. It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done.” — Maize Phillips
“This program has lifted so much off my shoulders.” — Robert Jeffreys
“If you have something to say, you need to say it. Keeping it inside only hurts worse.” Jaycee Schrenk
“Behind Closed Doors: Stories From The Inside Out” is available at the Edmonds Bookshop, 111 Main Street.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel