Thursday, July 31, 2014

Who are the key people in your life?

Who are you? How did you become the person you are today?

Beth Moore suggested an exercise that caught my attention in her Bible study, Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed. You know me… I’m always thinking about memoir, so immediately I thought how useful her idea would also be for writing memoirs. Here’s her idea:

She suggests listing several people God has used to make you who you are today. Beside each person’s name, briefly describe what that person has given you, done for you, and shaped you.

So here we go!

1. _______________________________________________________

2. _______________________________________________________

3. _______________________________________________________

4. _______________________________________________________

Beth continues, “Now go back and draw a ‘+’ under each line to add it to the next. Then in the space under the last line, jot down several ways you are distinct from all of them. The sum total is a tiny glimpse of who you are.” [emphasis mine]

Isn’t that a clever idea?

It’s fun—and exciting, and humbling—to look back and connect the dots: to discover the ways God was leading, one dot-person at a time, even when you might not have realized it, to make you the special person you are.

Use memories and discoveries generated by this exercise to write your stories. What would your life be like if you had not met those specific people? Thank God for bringing them into your life—and write your stories!

Write life into those people. Avoid leaving your reader with just a shadowy idea of each character.

Write so your readers feel they’re beside you and your characters, reliving your experiences with you.

You don’t need to include every detail: Leave out irrelevant stuff. Include info pertinent to your story.

If possible, include photos. They add details, create interest, and make a lot of difference to your readers.

Pray, too, for God to help you 
write a memoir that will bless those who read it. 

Related posts:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit

Here's your 15 seconds of inspiration
for this week's Tuesday Tidbit:

Writing your memoir for your kids and grandkids
and great-grandkids
might remain in "less noticeable spheres"
but know this:
Writing your memoir for them is a holy calling.
Devote your best gifts there.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Of Haida art, smoked clams, and tsunami evacuations routes

Oyster Bay
Oyster farms along Hood Canal
Hood Canal
low tide
high tide
Skookum Creek
Haida art
madrona trees
logging trucks
smoked clams
fish hatcheries
oyster farms
green: Douglas fir green, pine green, salal green, madrona green
blue: sky blue, saltwater blue, Hood Canal blue

I recently added those “crackly” words to my lexicon for a place I’ve driven through many times in my many years on earth: Hood Canal in western Washington.

At Priscilla Long’s delightful urging, I’m gathering words and phrases for stories about where my roots grow down deep.

I collected those words while driving along Hood Canal toward my destination, the north end of the Olympic Peninsula. Here are entries in that lexicon:

Discovery Bay
Lavender Festival
Dungeness Spit
Port Angeles and the Olympic Mountains from Ediz Hook
Port Angeles
salty cool air
City Pier
Hurricane Ridge
the Crab House
smoked oysters
Olympic National Park
Hama Hama Oysters
Swain's General Store
“Where the mountains greet the sea”
tsunami evacuation route signs
rugged, snow-capped, forested Olympic Mountains
World-class ships 
Gordy’s Pizza
Chestnut Cottage
border patrol agents
Scooter Chapman
Sandy Keyes
M.M. Fryer and Sons
logging trucks
waterfront trails
world-class ships
MV Coho, Coast Guard station, and Vancouver Island in the distance
Ediz Hook
U.S. Coast Guard station
U.S. Coast Guard helicopters hovering low
fog horns
Vancouver Island, B.C. in the distance across the Strait
wild blackberry vines in bloom
Frank Prince
Pete Rennie
Peninsula Daily News
Peninsula College
Canyon Edge Drive
Little League baseball
Dan Wilder’s car dealerships
The MV Coho
maritime history
dense, tangled undergrowth
Dungeness crab
farmers’ market
green: cedar green, fir green, wild blackberry green, bracken fern green, ivy green
blue: sky blue, saltwater blue, Strait-of-Juan-de-Fuca blue

If you haven’t already gathered what Priscilla Long calls“crackly” words, now is a good time to compile your own lexicon, or, more likely, several lexicons.

Do away with boring, generic, ho-hum words.

Instead, gather words and phrases from the unique eras and places and people and experiences in your memoir’s vignettes.

Doing so can be loads of fun, and using those words will add richness to your memoir and leave your readers involved and charmed within your stories.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit

Here's your 15 seconds of inspiration,
this week's Tuesday Tidbit:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

An easy way to add richness to your memoir's stories

Consider placing epigrams at the beginning of your memoir’s chapters or vignettes. (Usually an epigram is centered under the chapter title or number.)

An epigram is a concise saying that:
shines light on,
or summarizes,
adds pizzazz or sparkle,
or enriches the important story that follows it.

An epigram can be a short poem, song lyrics, a proverb, adage, or something witty.

It can be a quotation, a Bible verse, a maxim, a pithy statement, or a prayer.

If you’re like me, you’ve saved poems and quotations—in journals, in filing cabinets, in computer documents. If you’re like me, you’ve underlined book passages, highlighted Bible verses, and memorized song lyrics.

They caught your attention for some reason. They have special meaning for you. Why?

Take time to think: What happened in your past that makes that passage poignant?  What experience—what wisdom, what life-shaping event, what joy, healing, hope, what delight—does each saying point to?

If a brief quotation has a special meaning to you, you could—and probably should—write a story about it.

What about those other quotations that resonate with you? Consider writing some or all of the stories those sayings bring to mind, and place the epigram at the beginning of the story.

I gave you a long list of quotes last summer, and today I’m giving you more which might work as epigrams for your vignettes. I hope they will get your mind to humming on new story ideas:

“God gave us memories so we could have roses in winter and mothers forever.” J. M. Barrie

“In the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. That isn't easy to understand, but when we think about some of our deepest life experiences . . . great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience. ” Henri Nouwen

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” Dr. Seuss

“Don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We are not what we do. We are not what we have. We are not what others think of us.… I am the beloved child of a loving Creator. ” Henri Nouwen

“To be loved but not known is superficial. To be known and not loved is our great fear—but to be known and loved, that transforms you.” Tim Keller 

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” Harper Lee’s character Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; … who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

 “Sometimes God allows something in your life that only He can fix so that you will get to see Him fix it.” Tony Evans

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That’s the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.” George R. R. Martin

“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”  M. Scott Peck

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.” Mother Teresa

“The greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” Adam Stanley

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. ” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.” Pearl S. Buck

“I’ve learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.” Charles Spurgeon

“A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear.” Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.” Mitch Albom

“When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. ” Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing the monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” C.S. Lewis

“ … At moments of even the most humdrum of our days, God speaks.… He speaks not just through the sounds we hear, of course, but through events in all their complexity and variety, through the harmonies and disharmonies and counterpoint of all that happens.” Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey

“Sometimes life takes us places we never expected to go.  And in those places God writes a story we never thought would be ours.” Renee Swope

“In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost.” Dante

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Proverbs 31:8

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit

Here's your 15 seconds of
inspiration and blessing
for this Tuesday!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Do you know what a book dedication is—and is not?

Do you know what a book dedication is—and is not?

Have you written your memoir’s dedication—or at least a rough draft? Doing so can help you write the rest of your book. (See below.)

If you haven’t penned even a rough draft of your memoir’s dedication, this blog post is for you.

The dedication often begins with “For” or “I dedicate this book to” followed by names of people for whom you have written the book. But it doesn’t have to be spare and dull: There’s room for creativity and innovation.

Lucille Zimmerman over at Wordserve Water Cooler is fascinated with book dedications. She says the book dedication is not “the acknowledgments page where you thank everyone who ever helped you” but rather it's “that mostly blank page tucked in the beginning of a book, after the title page and publishing credits.” Her blog post includes seven charming book dedications.

A book dedication should be personal. Joseph Kunz emphasizes the emotional connection a book dedication can create, and offers a dozen examples in his blog post.

Stories to Tell workshops include an exercise called “Dedication Page” in which participants answer two questions:  “Who is your book for? Why are they special to you?”

Biff Barnes explains why it’s important to answer those questions even in the process of writing your memoir:

Knowing your audience
will help you pin down your voice,
your tone, your vocabulary,
what stories to include,
and how to shape your book.

If you haven’t thought about your memoir’s dedication page, the time has come! Creating it can be a lot of fun, and even a rough draft will benefit you during your writing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit

Here's your 15 seconds of
inspiration and blessing
for this Tuesday:

Anchor your stories within the sweep of history.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

4 writing opportunities for you

Whether you’re an unpublished writer or a well-established one, here are four writing opportunities for you. Don’t miss the last one!

Narrative Writing Magazine’s writing contest is open to memoir and all forms of literary nonfiction. The submission deadline is July 31, 2014. The first-place prize is $2500, second place $1000. There is a $22 entry fee. Check submission guidelines at this link.

Stoneboat Literary Journal is also accepting submissions (memoir and nonfiction, up to 5,000 words) until August 1, 2014, from both emerging and established writers. Stoneboat is an independent journal dedicated to publishing quality literature.

Anchor and Plume welcomes submissions of creative nonfiction (which includes memoir) and “seeks work that is a celebration of language and place.… We want to explore your landscapes, your universal yet distinct themes and characters in work that brings something of that place and what it means to be human to the surface.… We accept work from unpublished voices and from those who already have an established voice and publication history.”

From their website: “Anchor and Plume publishes Kindred a lit magazine that celebrates the power of story to bring people together. Kindred embraces the idea of home, we celebrate the messy, the meaningful, the people, and places we hold near and dear to our hearts.” (I just ordered the current issue of Kindred. It promises to be a delightful read.)

At this link, scroll down to “Anchor and Plume’s next open reading period will run August 1 – September 30.”  Also be sure to read submission guidelines.

Click on these links for earlier SM 101 blog posts about the importance and power of place:
The power of your place
Hiraeth: You’ve probably experienced it
That place: Why does it still call to you?
Where are you from?

Look over your rough drafts, 
polish and perfect one of them, 
check submission guidelines carefully
and submit your manuscript to one of these publications.

And here's your fourth opportunity:

Application for the 2015 residency season is now open for the Hedgebrook retreat for women writers. Hedgebrook is on Whidbey Island, about thirty-five miles northwest of Seattle, on 48 forested acres facing Puget Sound and Mount Rainier. That's my home territory and, believe me, it's gorgeous. The retreat hosts women writers from all over the world for two to six weeks, at no cost to the writer. Application for the 2015 residency season closes September 3, 2014.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit

Here's your 15 seconds of inspiration for this Tuesday!

Your memoir can be those “words of the wise” that others need.

Your memoir can be that “word spoken at the right moment.”

Don’t keep your stories to yourself!

Pray for God’s help, and then …