Thursday, January 29, 2015

Do you hear that?

Some sounds have died out. Have you ever thought of that?

In your memory, some sounds live on—they are a perfectly normal part of everyday life—yet they could be sounds your kids or grandkids have never heard.

I thought of that a few days ago when I read 11 Things That Your Kids Have Probably Never Heard.

Sounds like:

a rotary dial phone

a manual typewriter

a cash register

and those bells that used to ring when we pulled into a gas station.

If these memories make you smile, you’ll enjoy Kara Kovalchik’s 11 Things That Your Kids Have Probably Never Heard.

Enjoy that list, but add to it. Make a list of your own unique sounds and include them in your memoir.

Think about the sound of milking a cow—the sound of warm milk squirting into a metal bucket. I suspect most people have no idea what that sounds like.

People acquainted with only gas or electric “fireplaces” might not know about crackling and hissing sounds that real logs make in real fireplaces.

Those who grew up pre-photocopy machines will remember the sound a mimeograph machine makes.

Did you grow up listening to air raid sirens? I did. 

I’m working on a memoir about three years in a remote spot in South America. My sound lexicon contains sounds of howler monkeys, Honda 90s, bulls chomping on the hibiscus plant outside my kitchen window, mosquitoes buzzing ears at night, and many more.

Frederick Buechner writes of sounds from college days: “I hear the clatter of feet on stone steps and wooden steps, the rifle-shot slap of books dropped to the writing arms of seats in lecture halls… and [in the dorm] the playing of everybody’s phonograph at once—“Honeysuckle Rose,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” “As Time Goes By.”… (The Sacred Journey)

For your readers’ the sake, for your memoir’s sake—to help your memoir zing, to add to your readers’ enjoymentdo the work necessary to make sounds come to life.

Need help remembering? Close your eyes. It’ll probably help.

And click on this link for Amber Lea Starfire’s blog post—it’ll help you capture and pin down sounds from your past.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Tidbit: Stories that became your “blood and self and purpose”

Whose story took up residence in your soul and became your “blood and self and purpose”?

Whose words moved you and drove you, and what did you do because of those words?

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

Your words, your stories, can do this for others.
Do you believe it?

Writing your stories is more than a hobby: it is a ministry

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sneeze post

If you’re not following Spiritual Memoirs 101 on Facebook, recently you missed these and many more:

In How to Capture Your Toughest Memories, Amy Jo Burns says, “…the hardest scenes to write were also the ones that had been the hardest to live, and certainly the hardest to relive and remember. How do we begin to dissect the moments that changed the trajectories of our lives? These difficult scenes are often the most integral to our narratives, and they take time to develop and understand.…”

Do you want to remember more details to include in your memoir? Close your eyes and see what happens! Read more at Closing your eyes boosts memory recall, new study finds.

Following up on that idea, here’s a quick exercise Amber Lea Starfire developed to help memoirists remember sensory details—and yes, she is a fan of closing one’s eyes to retrieve those memories. This is a practical, helpful blog post. You’ll find the exercise at her blog post, From Memories to Memoirs, Part 3—Remembering vividly.

In Polish Your Prose, Nephele Tempest writes, “… the time will come when you need to edit.… I’m referring to that nitty gritty editorial process of looking at your work word by word, sentence by sentence, and examining the language you’ve used.” She offers storytellers and wordsmiths a cheat sheet to help with editing.

Patty Kirk offers another tool to help rework your stories: Read them aloud. “Hearing your sentences spoken lets you know whether they’re clear and natural-sounding—whether someone actually could speak them…. And it doesn’t work to read to an empty room. You need a warm body, a listener, to complete the communication.” Read more at Revising Aloud.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Tidbit: Writing and rewriting

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

I thoroughly enjoy rewriting. Do you? 
Leave a comment below.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Your Memoir: Hope for heartbreaking times

If you’ve paid attention to the news lately, many events could make us despair—atrocities in Nigeria and Paris, and in America: violence in homes and on streets.

Then, too, there are the smaller circles in which we each live. In my life, a few days ago a young friend’s husband died suddenly; another had a mastectomy and now faces chemo and an unknown future; my brother needed life-saving medical procedure; a friend is reeling from a job situation that sent him into a tailspin; another doesn’t want to live any longer.

You no doubt have your own set of heartaches, unwelcome surprises, and disappointments.

It’s easy to lose hope.

Have you ever been there? Lost all hope? Despaired? If so, someone needs to hear your storysomeone going through heart-wrenching times, someone who wants to give up. Maybe someone needs to know your story right now, or maybe in the future someone will need to read your memoir.

Tell them: When your hope was fading, instead of giving up, what kept you going? What or who gave you hope? What Bible verses encouraged you? What was God doing for you, even if you couldn’t sense it at the time?

God bless dear Mr. Rogers. Remember him? He once said,

“When I was a boy
and I would see scary things in the news,
my mother would say to me,
‘Look for the helpers.
You will always find people who are helping.’”

God sends helpers. Who did God send to walk alongside you during your difficult time? What, specifically, did he or she do for you?

Just after Jerusalem’s destruction when—humanly speaking—Jeremiah had no reason to hope for anything good, our Old Testament friend wrote of God:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! 
His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
(Lamentations 3:22,23 NLT)

Wow! How could he say that? –an eyewitness to destruction and slaughter, a man standing in the midst of ruins, no doubt stunned with all the losses. How could he not give in to hopelessness?

Jeremiah goes on to say, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25).

Jeremiah was confident that God was faithful and merciful, and that’s why he could hope despite widespread tragedies.

Have you had a similar experience? Looking back on your hope-defying time, does your heart sing, “Yessss!” when you read those words?

Write your story about remaining hopeful in heartbreaking times.

But be careful: Don’t get preachy. Resist a holier-than-thou attitude.

Avoid Christianese—jargon that might be distasteful to readers, or lingo that might hinder clarity. For example, resist using phrases like “I’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb.” Instead, use everyday language to tell your story.

Someone needs to know your story
a person dealing with heartache,
fighting to keep despair from taking over.
Someone perplexed about God and His ways.
Someone facing a scary, unknown future.
Someone feeling lost. Someone needing courage.
Someone needing a reason to keep living.

When we write our memoirs,
Henri Nouwen

 Someone needs to hear from you
about God’s great faithfulness.
Someone needs to know that morning by morning
He showered new mercies upon you
and He wants to do the same for him or her.

Write your story!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday Tidbit: Memoirists “make our lives into lives for others”

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

"When we say,
'Let me tell you what we saw.
Come and listen to what we did.
Sit down and let me tell you what happened to us.
Wait until you hear whom we met,'
we call people together
and make our lives into lives for others.
The word brings us together 
and calls us into community."

from Henri Nouwen's Bread for the Journey, June 25 selection

Let's be intentional about writing our memoirs: Let's "call people together and make our lives into lives for others," not because we are so special, but because God is!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Whether twenty years old or seventy, God has helped us every step of the way

Your job and mine, as memoirists, is to serve as “a hand pointing in the direction of the past.”

But here at SM 101, we do more than that. We do more than tell stories from the past.

Here we dig deep within those stories to discover what God has done for us—stories about His constant companionship each day, each year.

The beauty of memoir is looking back, examining, and discovering significance we might have missed at the time.

So now, at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, it’s good for us to reflect on the past twelve months because too often we don’t take time to recognize that, in the words of dear old Samuel, “The Lord has helped us every step of the way” (1 Samuel 7:12, NIRV).

Back in the 1800s, C. H. Spurgeon pondered that same verse in The King James Version: “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

He wrote:

“The word ‘hitherto’ seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet ‘hitherto hath the Lord helped us!’”

Or, in today’s language, “Whether twenty years old or seventy, ‘the Lord has helped us every step of the way.’

Spurgeon continues,

“Through poverty,
through wealth,
through sickness,
through health;
at home,
on the land,
on the sea;
in honor,
in dishonor,
in perplexity,
in joy,
in trial,
in triumph,
in prayer,
in temptation,
—‘hitherto hath the Lord helped!’”

If we invest time in looking over Spurgeon’s list in light of our own past, we’ll see that every day, in each event, even in the worst of times, God has always hovered in our midst, working out His best plans.

For now, jot down a list, make a few notes, and promise yourself—and your family, and God—you’ll write those stories in 2015!

Each story is worthy of being told.

Each child and grandchild—niece, nephew, and “spiritual child”—needs to know your stories. 

Always remember, and never forget,
what you’ve seen God do for you,
and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren!
(Deuteronomy 4:9)

reposted from December 31, 2011

Related posts:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tuesday Tidbit - Are you following SM 101 on Facebook?

If you’re not following SM 101 on Facebook, you’re missing a lot! I post links to all kinds of inspiration for you memoirists.

For example, if you’re not with us on Facebook, you missed the announcement that West Coast Christian Writers (WCCW) is offering two scholarships for tuition for the 2016 WCCW Conference ($149 value), a one-year membership to Inspire Christian Writers ($50), and tuition to the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference ($800). Application deadline: January 15, 2015. Click here to read more.

Sharon Lippincott, at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, shares her
2015 Writing Resolutions. They are sure to inspire you to keep working on your memoir.

Writers Write’s blog post has excellent and practical advice for memoirists in The Five Top Tips for Turning Memories into a Book.

And if you’re not following SM 101 on Facebook, you missed this Ernest Hemingway quote: 

"There is no rule on how to write.
Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly;
sometimes it's like drilling rock
and then blasting it out with charges."

I add stuff to Facebook several times a day so be sure to click on over to Spiritual Memoirs 101 on Facebook and hit the “Like” button. Under the “Like” button, BE SURE TO CLICK ON ‘GET NOTIFICATIONS’ so it will show in your newsfeed.

And feel free to leave comments. We all enjoy encouragement from time to time.

Happy New Year!
Happy memoiring!