Thursday, March 3, 2016

Do you know how your memoir will end? (Part one)

While you write your memoir, keep in mind where you’re heading: Build toward your ending.

But wait! Do you know how your memoir will end?

I beg of you, don’t settle for an anemic, trite “And they lived happily ever after.”

The beauty of memoir is that we write much more than just events and details. We uncover a story larger than the story on the surface.

We excavate a story deeper and higher and wider than the immediate story.

We dig it outin pieces if we must—but we dig it out.

Dig until you find your gems, the gold, the silver.
That takes time and commitment and tenacity.
Don’t give up!
(Take a minute to read Dig it out, in pieces if you must.)

You have probably already written some of your stories/vignettes—that’s the easy part!—stories like:

  • How did you rise above obstacles?
  • Who did God use to show you what grace looks like?
  • What did God do to heal emotional scars?
  • Who did He bring into your life to turn you in the right direction?
  • What unexpected opportunities did God offer you?
  • What was the saddest day of your life?
  • What was the happiest day of your life?
  • What was the scariest thing you’ve ever had to do?
  • What was the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
  • What event or person helped you take off blinders and see yourself in a new and better way?
  • Who/what opened your mind and heart to new worlds (emotional, spiritual, mental, physical)?
  • Who showed you what forgiveness looks like?
  • Who took a risk and trusted you?
  • Who did God send to demonstrate how to parent your kids?
  • Who gave you a second chance?
  • Who did God send to help you believe in Him? Trust Him? Enjoy Him?

Set aside time to ponder and examine and pray about what God wants you to discover deep down in your life’s events.  Uncover the story that’s deeper and higher and wider than the surface story. Give yourself all the time you need.

As you aim toward your memoir’s ending, ask yourself: What principles, what life lessons do your stories illustrate?

What universal truths—or themes—come to light in your stories?
  • Do your stories illustrate the importance of honesty, integrity, grace?
  • Faithfulness to God and marriage?
  • Helping the poor and sick?
  • Choosing courage over fear?
  • Resilience instead of giving up?
  • Forgiveness instead of bitterness?
  • Mercy instead of revenge?
  • ...and so on.

What attributes of God shine from your stories? For example:
  • His patience,
  • forgiveness,
  • unconditional love,
  • omnipotence,
  • wisdom,
  • gentleness,
  • faithfulness,
  • holiness,
  • and so on.

What Bible verse or phrase captures the point of your memoir? Here are a few suggestions:
  • …a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)
  • His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)  
  • Joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5)
  • When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. (Isaiah 43:2, LB)
  • The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercy never comes to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV)
  • My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart. (Psalm 73:26, NIV)

Is there a quotation that embraces your memoir’s overall message? Here are a few suggestions:
  • “Never believe that so-called random events of life are anything less than God’s appointed order. Be ready to discover His divine designs anywhere and everywhere.” C. S. Lewis
  • “It is often in our darkest hour that the light of God’s presence shines the brightest.” Stacy L. Sanchez
  • “The very circumstances which were meant to break Joseph’s faith in [God’s] promises were actually the events setting up their fulfillment.” David Ramos
  • “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis
  • “Believe me, the reward is not so great without the struggle.” Wilma Rudolph at God-sized Dreams 

 People long to discover universal truths, 
transforming truths, 
spiritual truths, 
underlying truths, 
relevant truths. 

Your readers long 
to discover them in your life’s stories 
so they can apply them to their own lives.

Once you can pinpoint them, you’ll have at least a vague idea of where you’re heading with your memoir—how you want to conclude it.

For now, get started on the above. 
Next Thursday, 
come back for 
Do you know how your memoir will end? (Part two).

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