monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

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Writing Workshop for Neuroscientists -- and their families

And now for something completely different -- I gave a writing workshop to neuroscientists (and their families)! That's because this weekend is the Neuro retreat -- an annual event which brings together employees of the Neuro (Montreal Neurological Hospital and Institute). My partner Guy works there and because I was coming along, I offered to give a writing workshop -- and to tie it in to my new book Remember This: The Fascinating World of Memory (Orca).

Ten people -- of all ages -- attended yesterday's workshop. And I must say there was a very special atmosphere in the room. I started by sharing some writing tips, then talking briefly about the Memory book... and then we did a writing exercise based on a memory. I asked the participants to remember a moment when they learned something important -- a moment of change. And oh, they wrote such beautiful stuff!

Sabrina, the librarian at the Neuro, wrote about the moment she learned to ride a bike: "I heard the sound of my wheels on the gravel.... I felt like I was flying." One of the wonderful things about memories and stories is they lead to MORE memories and stories! Reading Sabrina's piece reminded me of my old blue bicycle -- the one I was on when I first learned to ride a bike. David, who is eight, wrote something wonderful about learning to play football: "I heard the football flying through the air." Don't you love how sensory details (the sound of the bike wheels, the sound of the football) take us into a story? Mayra, a young neuroscientist who works in Guy's lab, wrote about learning to ride a horse when she was living in Argentina -- and she was only three years old at the time! There's a book in there, Mayra. Joanne and I both wrote about learning to swim, and Stephanie wrote about the pride she felt when she first learned to make a fire. There's a book in there too, Stephanie!

I can't finish today's blog entry without mentioning Yang Zhou's memory. First I should tell you I know Yang Zhou, a star neuroscientist. Well it turns out he is also a star writer. He wrote about his memory of learning to pick green tea. I didn't take any notes -- because I was trying not to cry! Yang Zhou, WRITE THAT STORY!!

We head back to Montreal this afternoon. I've been at three other Neuro retreats -- but this was my favourite. It helped that our hotel has an awesome pool. But best of all, I feel like I was able to make my own small contribution. And I got to talk about my favourite subject -- writing -- and see writers in action. Thanks to my friends at the Neuro for making this weekend possible. And thanks to everyone who came to the workshop. I won't forget our afternoon together!

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Monday, 24 June 2024

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