We often use the term “writing their memoirs” to indicate that a person is at the end of their career, but local writer Erika Lowenkopf’s current project, Missing the Boat is only the beginning of great things to come for this talented literary artist.
Lowenkopf’s memoir invites the reader into events that took place following the loss of her beloved grandmother and recovery from her own serious health issues. The story also reflects back on past issues that impacted the central plotline of her story.
“My memoir is about partially about how I was bullied throughout grade school and how that affected my home life and self-esteem into adulthood,” Lowenkopf explained. “I got my Associates’ Degree in Liberal Arts and then got accepted into college core-complete. I switched my major to Psychology because I wanted to become a counselor for children and adolescents.”
At this point, it appeared that Lowenkopf had found her path, her opportunity to transform the bullying she experienced into something that would help others. But two pieces of devastating news would send her in a completely different direction.
“I received the news that my grandmother had cancer a week before my first semester began. She passed away the following year. I plan on dedicating the memoir to her and her memory. Two years later, I received devastating news about my own health that would send me spiraling into a deep depression. My journey changed, my relationships with everyone around me changed, and it changed how I felt about myself.” she said.
During this period of turmoil in her life, Lowenkopf was presented with what she describes as an “amazing opportunity.” It was this incident that inspired the principle plot line of her memoir. And there is an actual boat.
A true artist, Lowenkopf knows not to reveal the entire piece before it is finished. Readers will have to wait for the memoir’s publication, tentatively due in the fall of 2020, to learn the details of the opportunity.
But she is willing to share her experiences as an artist with those who may be working on their own project, or hoping to start writing in the near future.
Lowenkopf stressed that successful writing does not need to follow one set pattern.
“I don’t think I have ever had a ‘typical’ writing session,” she said. “I will admit that I have sat in front of the computer and I will be distracted or unable to concentrate on writing. Then I would feel guilty about wasting valuable time. Then there have been other times that I will get an idea for something to add to the memoir at a random time and place. Once it even happened while I was grocery shopping. Then I will really look forward to my next session. So it’s pretty haphazard and unpredictable.”
While sitting down to write does not need to look the same every day, deciding what belongs in a memoir and what is not part of the story does take careful reflection and revising.
“I began writing this four years ago, so when I read what I have written when I started, I’m like, ‘Nope, this needs to be revised or deleted or moved to another chapter,’”, Lowenkopf explained.” Whenever possible, I share sections of it with others, preferably other writers, and I appreciate their feedback. I am not saying that I agree with all of it, but I have received some valid constructive criticism that has helped me grow and evolve as a writer.”
Deciding what pieces should be shared publicly prior to publication and which ones need to be worked on without the input of others is an important skill for any writer, one Lowenkopf describes as developing over time.
“It is an ever changing process,” she stated.” It could be something that I feel is necessary to the story, or it could be something I am unsure of and I would like to receive feedback on, or it could be a section that I feel passionately about. If it’s something I am If I have read a section but received criticism, I might read the revised version at a later time.”
Lowenkopf continues to work on her memoir with the goal of having this type of impact on those who hear her read from her work in progress. She works to produce a finished piece that will also impact the lives of others in a supportive, comforting, or helpful way, though Lowenkopf cannot predict the precise impact her work might have.
“There is no way of knowing for sure who will be positively affected or inspired by a memoir, or any written work for that matter,” she said. “I will say, however, that my memoir deals with grief, loss, bullying, and self-esteem issues. A good part of it is about two significant but very different losses. Most people, if they live long enough, will experience a loss that will affect them in a way that their lives will forever change. However, no two people react exactly the same and the same person can experience two losses in a short amount of time, as I did, and the grieving and healing experience is different for both.”
Whether you anticipate a memoir that brings you comfort and support while coping with one of the issues addressed in her work, further insight into the issues, or simply a well-written memoir, this book is one to watch for. Erika Lowenkopf may not have published her first memoir yet, but she is truly a gifted local artist on the rise.
Photo Credit: Erika Lowenkopf
Article property of Erika Lowenkopf. Printed with permission.