Reinventing Myself:
Memoirs of a Retired Professor

Marlys Marshall Styne


Infinity Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0741432080.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 09/08/2006

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Creative Life

Marlys Styne had a problem. One that lots of us share. For most of her life, she wanted to be a writer. She loved good writing. She even taught writing for forty years at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago. She did not, however, think of herself as a writer.

"I just didn't have it in me," she tells us. But, guess what? She did, and she does. Ask Styne who she is today, and she'll quickly respond that she's a writer. After all, "a writer just writes and keeps writing." That's what this Story Circle Network member has done.

Styne explains that at seventy-three, she'd been retired for seven years and widowed for six. She had no family. She felt she didn't have much. She was depressed and didn't like it. She decided to be another person, to re-invent herself through writing. She shares this successful adventure in the pages of her book.

Lots of us who think we have stories to tell but find it hard to get started will find comfort, advice and inspiration in this book. The author had inspiration herself. At the age of eighty-six, her mother wrote an optimistic autobiography. She passed along good advice given by her father to his young daughter. She could do anything she wanted to; she must always follow her dream. A legacy she passed on to her daughter, who heeded and followed her own writing dream.

In beginning her memoir, Styne made an interesting discovery. Not only was she a writer now... She had been a writer for a long time. She gathered essays and writing from past years: a prize-winning essay on a trip to Russia (by motorcycle!) written in 1988; her 1999 farewell message to Wright College. She has combined these existing pieces with new thoughts she found while attending writing workshops. After reading a Time magazine article on creativity, she decided to move from writing to writing a book.

Here it is. She has done a fine job. I enjoyed reading it for the variety. In a slender volume, the author manages to cover a range of topics from the lighthearted—suduko and cats—to the deeply serious—the loss of a dearly loved husband, a fight against breast cancer. She has a lovely voice and a lively pace.

This book is fine to read as a glimpse into a fascinating life, but it is also an inspiration to those of us who hope to be writers. Styne will tell us that we already are.

Marlys Styne has gone on to a new adventure... She has joined the ranks of Story Circle Network bloggers! Check her out at seniorwriter.blogspot.com.

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