Saturday, November 12, 2011

Send me your Christmas vignettes

Have you written a story about Christmas for your memoir? 

If so, Gentle Readers, send me your Christmas vignettes between now and December 10 and I’ll select one to publish here the week before Christmas.

Spiff up your rough draft (or start writing it), keeping in mind the definition of memoir from earlier posts here.*

In Spiritual Memoirs 101, we go beyond digging up memories. Within our memories, we search for greater treasures: what God was doing in and for and through us at the time.

“Rather than simply telling a story from her life,
the memoirist both tells the story
and muses upon it,
trying to unravel what it means
in the light of her current knowledge.…
The contemporary memoir includes retrospection
as an essential part of the story.
Your reader [is] interested in how you now,
looking back on it,
understand it.
(Judith Barrington, Writing the Memoir)

“As memoir writers
we are trying to find a perspective,
even forgiveness and compassion,
for ourselves and others as we write our stories.”
(Linda Joy Myers*)

“… The author must impose a coherence
on events he chooses to include
that may not have been present as he lived them.…
It’s that selectivity that transforms a memoir
from a report to a reflection
which gives meaning to the events
which might not have been evident to the author
as she lived them.”
(The Author’s Dual Role in a Memoir, by Biff Barnes*)

Include emotions and sensory details. You’ll find tips from Method Writing* and from Kathleen Pooler’s recent blog post, Evoking Emotions: The power of Sensory Detail in Storytelling.*

Let your readers inside your heart and mind.

Include your thoughts—even your struggles—to understand what was going on. Write out your delights as well as your doubts. Ask questions even if you have no answers.

Mull over, sift through, analyze, explore, untangle, sort out.

Above all, examine what God was doing as you see it now, in retrospect.

What did you learn about God and about yourself?

What deeper lessons did He have for you in the events?

How did you change as a result?

Dig deep. Tunnel down below the surface. Maybe coincidences and chance encounters were much more—they were God in action: orchestrating, arranging, and shaping your life’s direction.

When you’ve polished up your Christmas story, submit it for consideration. I'll be happy to edit it if you wish.

Your vignette should be 700 words or less in a Word document, sent as an attachment to grandmaletters [at] aol [dot] com (replace [at] with @ and replace [dot] with a period, scrunch it all together, and that should reach me). Please writeChristmas Vignette for SM 101” in the subject line so I’ll know it’s not spam. Thanks.

I’ll choose one story to publish here the week before Christmas. Happy writing!

*Links and resources:

What is a memoir

The Author’s Dual Role in a Memoir, by Biff Barnes in About Memoirs and Personal History Books, The Author’s Craft,

Kathleen Pooler’s Evoking Emotions: The power of Sensory Detail in Storytelling,

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