Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dig it out, in pieces if you must

When you write a memoir, you record more than the details of what happened.

You peel off layers,
dig deep,
You mine gems buried in layers.
You hunt down the inner, more significant story.

When you write a memoir, after you’ve mined those hidden gems and you’re holding them in your hands, get out a magnifying glass:
piece together,

As a memoirist, search for ways your experience changed you and made you who you are today.

You might find answers to questions that eluded you in the past—or maybe you’ll make peace with questions that still have no answers.

Search for lessons you learned, for patterns (positive or negative) you recognize now, looking back.

What did you need to learn the hard way?
What do you know now that you didn’t then?
How was God involved?
What wisdom did you gain from the experience?
How did the experience make you a better person?

Unraveling can be difficult. I’m writing my second memoir and recognize anew how mysterious the process can be and that this memoir stuff can be painful. We unearth things about ourselves we hadn’t realized before, and the discoveries can mature us and strengthen our faith for all that comes our way in the future.

I appreciate a quote in Kathy Pooler’s recent blog post:

“As a writer,
I dig to get to the meat of the troubling,
sensitive issues.
I often find it’s a tough nut to crack,
so I take out my nut cracking tools.
I apply pressure
and squeeze to pop open the topic.
I probe to separate kernels of truth
from their protective shells.
Sometimes I lift the fruit whole
and intact from its hiding place,
but more often I dig it out in pieces.”

What are your nut-cracking tools?

What pressure can you apply to extract those kernels of truth?

What will you do to pop open your story?

Squeeze, probe, and dig it out,
in pieces if you must,
but dig it out!

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