Welcome to new followers:
Laura, Vicky, Aporosa, Esther, Marg, Melissa, Rachel, Foma Hope,
Katinga, Karen, and Daneille,
Katinga, Karen, and Daneille,
and on Facebook: Jen, Rosemarie, Denny, Sue, Melissa, and Matt!
Be sure to invite your friends!
When people sign up for my memoir classes, I often hear, “A memoir class! Terrific! I love journaling!”
Yes, sometimes people confuse writing a memoir with journaling, or with writing autobiography, so let’s distinguish between them.
Your journal is private, but you write a memoir for others to read.
An autobiography documents your entire life, starting with your birth, but memoir focuses on a segment of your life—a specific theme or time period—which you explore in depth.
In other words, a person can write a memoir based on a theme: coaching high school tennis, for example, or working as a bush pilot in Alaska. My memoir, Grandma's Letters from Africa, covers a time period, my first four years in Africa.
Spiritual Memoirs 101’s theme is Deuteronomy 4:9, Always remember the things you’ve seen God do for you, and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren!
Pondering, examining, unraveling, musing, and reflecting are necessary ingredients in memoirs. In the writing process, you will examine what God was doing as you see it now, in retrospect. You’ll look for deeper lessons God had for you in the events of your life.
Looking back, what did you learn about yourself?
What patterns in your faith did you discover that you hadn’t noticed before?
What did you learn about God?
Do you now have a better understanding of God’s purpose for your life?
How did the experience change your life? What new person did you become?
How did the experience strengthen your faith for future challenges?
In summary, your stories will capture how you remember God’s activities in your life and what you discovered about both God and yourself.
A memoir can be a few pages or book-length. I suggest you start by writing a collection of vignettes or short chapters.
In coming weeks, we’ll examine memoir from a number of perspectives, but for now, here’s …
This week’s assignment:
- Start small: choose two or three occasions in which God acted on behalf of you or your family. For example, think back to turning points, answered prayer, decisions, or the happiest day of your life. For now, avoid traumatic or complicated stories; you’ll learn the craft of memoir more easily if you start with straightforward events.
- Do you need a story idea? Look through your Bible or a devotional for words you underlined and notes you jotted in the margin. Such notations can help you remember a significant situation in your life.
- While you write, ask yourself the above questions. Answers might not surface quickly but when they do, include them in your stories.
- Write rough drafts, three to five pages for each story. Include pertinent Bible verses. (You’ll revise your rough drafts a lot—everyone does—so don’t worry about perfecting them yet.) These will be chapters in your finished memoir. You can write stand-alone pieces or a series of related stories.
- Enjoy your writing!
Be sure to come back next week. I’m eager to tell you more about this grand undertaking—your memoir!
Your stories will help shape the spiritual lives of your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and anyone else who reads them (your “spiritual children”).