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Local parent Ingrid Ricks proves the power of narrative writing

How narrative writing helped Ricks and so many others

Ceci Atkins, Staff reporter
Originally published December 14, 2015

Narrative writing didn’t just allow Ingrid Ricks to tell her story of childhood and the abuse of power. It also helped her to overcome feelings of resentment she’d harbored since childhood. Ricks is New York Times bestselling author of the memoir “Hippie Boy” and parent to junior Sydney Janeway. In her book, “Hippie Boy,” Ricks tells her story of her childhood in which she repeatedly looks to her nomadic traveling salesman dad to save her from her overtly religious mother and authoritarian step-father. Telling her story was an important part of liberating herself from her feelings of helplessness and lack of empowerment.

Her book, after being self published, was recognized by Penguin, a popular publishing company. Penguin then published Ricks’ book, quickly leading “Hippie Boy” to its position on the New York Times bestselling list.

“Even though it’s [the book] about finding my voice and power, I didn’t really find it until I wrote that story. I was still carrying a lot of hurt from the past, but when I wrote the story I felt empowered,” Ricks said. “Instead of my step-dad holding me back all these years later, I got to overpower him by telling my story and reach my dreams. I always say your biggest revenge is success.”

Finding her voice and liberation by writing her story inspired her to help others who were in the same situation and, like Ricks, needed to tell their story.

Two months after pubhippie boy web sizelishing her book and promoting over radio shows and podcasts, Ricks was approached by a high school teacher in Edmonds who praised her book and asked for Ricks to come to her class and speak to her students. Ricks donated her books to the students and from there created a once a month narrative guide where students used “Hippie Boy” to find their voice and write their own stories.

“My mom has heard some pretty incredible stories from kids opening up to her in her workshops,” said junior Sydney Janeway. “It’s pretty cool.”

Students thrived under the guidance of Ricks’ narrative writing group so much that they developed a publishing workshop to help self publish their own books. Ricks has worked with high school students whose work went on to be nationally recognized and printed in magazines like Reader’s Digest. Her workshop, Write Outloud, has been implemented as far as schools in Utah, Highline School District and Edmonds School District.

“I’ve discovered that the issues of anxiety, and depression, or broken families, or abandonment, are things that virtually every teen is dealing with, and it’s incredible the stories that come out of it, not only the works themselves, but the empowerment that comes with it too,” Ricks said.

Four years after publishing “Hippie Boy”, Ricks is still working on her writing and has found a new focal point of her work. She is now writing a piece about personal strength and perseverance in the battle of her diminishing eyesight. Once again, she turns to narrative writing to express a journey from victim to victor.

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Local parent Ingrid Ricks proves the power of narrative writing