A few of you are aiming for a professional, published memoir with book-signings and speaking engagements and press releases.
Others plan to make a few photocopies of your memoir for friends and family; you’re not dreaming of making it onto the New York Times Best-Seller list.
I applaud both kinds of memoirs! I’ve written both types and found equal joy and fulfillment in them.
If you’re not sure which type your finished memoir will be, let me ask:
Are you in the Tweaking is Torture camp or the Polishing is Pure Pleasure camp?
You’re in the Tweaking is Torture camp if you view grammar as an ambiguity and proofreading as punishment.
Toiling to include details* discourages you and writing leads* leaves you dismayed.
You’re in the Tweaking is Torture camp if you can't stand editing and revising your stories.
A few of you would rather have a tooth pulled without anesthesia than to fuss with a manuscript.
If you prefer writing your memoir in a less-than-rigorous manner and if royalty checks are not your goal—that’s OK! Really!
Your readers will treasure your memoir and you will have achieved your ultimate goal: Telling future generations what you’ve seen God do in and for you and your family (Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
On the other hand, if you’re in the Polishing is Pure Pleasure camp, you’re downright giddy working with words and sentence length and rhythm.
You stay up late into the night reading books and blogs about writing.
You get fired up over new writing tips and can’t wait to fine-tune your rough drafts.
You’re in the Polishing is Pure Pleasure camp if you lose track of time sitting in front of your computer screen: reworking and honing and rewriting.
You spiff up your manuscripts and welcome comments from your critique group.
Melissa Marsh’s words will resonate with you:
“When you're writing,
do you ever get that feeling of pure joy deep in your gut?
Like this is what you're supposed to be doing with your life?
Like this activity completes you?”
So, in which camp are you: Tweaking is Torture, or Polishing is Pure Pleasure?
If Tweaking is Torture describes you, and if stress and frustration bubble up when you face the craft and art of writing, I hereby give you permission to ignore my suggestions about those topics.
Instead, focus solely on getting your God-and-you stories in writing. Always remember that’s your most important goal.
In my memoir classes, I say: Placing your stories in friends’ and relatives’ hands is your most important goal even if your memoir is not a literary masterpiece.
Recently the mailman delivered Sharon Lippincott’s The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing.* She preaches the same message. Take a look:
“… Writing even a little bit, even a single letter or story, is better than writing nothing.… None of my forebears wrote lengthy stories, but however short, I treasure them, and they are better than nothing.
“Don’t worry about what to say, or whether it’s worth the effort, or whether you have time to write a document the size of a James Michener novel. Anything you write will be better than nothing!” (Sharon Lippincott, The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing*)
Whether you’re like me—I enjoy puttering around in my rough drafts and refining, adding this and deleting that—or you belong to the “Anything you write will be better than nothing” camp, sign up as a Follower of this blog (top right), or follow on e-mail (below the Followers’ photos) and I’ll dump heaps of tips and ideas on you in coming months.
“Whether or not you write well, write bravely."
Next time: More on Polishing is Pure Pleasure
In the right column, you’ll find a link to Sharon Lippincott’s blog, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing.
You can buy Sharon’s book, The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, through her blog.