Guest Post: Mine to Tell

By Ashley Mae Hoiland and Kathy West

Writing for me has always been a quiet meadow built of both my own words and thoughts and ideas I did not know rested within me.  I have learned confidence, the beauty of navigating tension, respite from confusing or sad storms and so much joy and fulfillment inside that meadow. Writing has given me a voice when I felt I did not have a platform to speak, it has given me a way to talk with and think about my ancestors, it has given significance to my own insignificant story.  In fact, the Exponent II journal has been instrumental in creating a space for me to share some of both my written and visual arts pieces over the past decade.

I realized that while I loved writing on my own, I almost equally loved teaching and guiding people through their own writing journey. I had been thinking about, writing and working on a curriculum for about six months, but had abandoned courage to actually follow through with it when my dear friend and former Exponent permablogger, Kathy, who I know from our MFA program, called out of the blue and asked what I thought about teaching some writing classes together.  In a couple of short months and after a lot of enthusiastic phone call meetings, we had some classes put together.

The first session of Mine To Tell ran through the fall and the work we all did together felt transformative to me. On the last day of class many of us cried both our of celebration of what we’d done, and out of sadness to have to leave the sacred space we’d created in working individually with our stories and words.  

Kathy and I are both honored and excited to begin this next session of the 13-week course. We both have true testimonies of the power of writing for ourselves, particularly in times when the unexpected confronts you. This course is much more than a set of lessons, rules or guidelines, we hope it will be a transformative experience across your life experience and that you can implement for years to come. I do believe in the act of writing. I believe in woman telling their stories, both for themselves and for others through writing. I believe it is how change comes about, I believe it is part of our standing up and taking our place.

Find more about the class at

Ashmae Hoiland wrote the first book by a woman at the Maxwell Institute, 100 Birds Taught Me To Fly. She has been a keynote speaker at half a dozen conferences, taught writing in University and other settings, and writes and illustrates children’s book. She created the We Brave Women project, a set of 60 cards featuring portraits and stories of brave women from around the world. She lives in Santa Cruz with her geologist husband and three small children.

Kathy West is a writer who loves to see a creative impulse put to use. She received her MFA in fiction and a handful of her short stories have been published in Apalachee Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. As an introvert who likes talking into microphones, she has read her creative non-fiction on stage for Lit Lounge at SMoCA in Scottsdale AZ, Chow Bella and Bar Flies in Phoenix AZ, and Dirty Laundry Lit in Los Angeles.

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3 Responses

  1. Nicole Taylor says:

    I took their class last session and it was amazing and theraputic for me. Not to mention they both were beautifully!

  2. EmilyCC says:

    Honestly, I can’t think of a kinder and more experienced editor than Kathy. And, knowing what I do about Ashley Mae, I can imagine what a beautiful experience it would be. So I hope they do it again (hint, hint 😉 )

  3. I am intrigued by this. I have created a one woman play called Not So Supernova with cultural Mormon things. I think it would complement these writing courses. If you have any interest in collaborating I’d love for you to reach out. Perhaps a retreat?

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