The power of story
We are hard-wired to tell stories.
... those long dark nights when we sat around the warmth and safety of a fire and shared stories about our day: what we did, what we hunted and gathered, what we saw - and of course all of those tales would've had a good dose of imagination thrown in. That animal we speared for dinner became far larger than it actually was, the trip to gather water from a nearby stream became fraught with tension because we lost our way and couldn't get back for ages (when actually we probably just took some time out to sit by the water and dream for a bit), and then there are the stories we tell about others, embellishing our own with those day to day interactions and relationships.
What wonderful stories we had the privilege of sharing at my recent Introduction to Memoir Workshop last weekend. A gathering of women with ideas and projects to describe, eager to commit their stories to the written word.
The writing of memoir involves the telling of truth, your story or journey, what happened during a time of change or transformation in your life. It can take courage to tell those stories, and we tell them when we are ready.
That can take a while. My Mom died in 2010 and it has only been within the last two or three years that I have started the writing of my memoir about her. In contrast, my memoir about my first year after a breast cancer diagnosis was written and published within three years of that fateful day when I found out I had cancer.
Good strong stories customarily follow a narrative arc. A very simplistic description of the arc is the beginning where we meet the main characters and the scene is set (Act 1), the conflict/action/crisis follows (Act 2) and then the resolution ends the story (Act 3), where we find out what eventuated, the conclusion of our story. For example, earlier I mentioned going to the stream for water. That is Act 1 where we meet the person, the scene is set. Act 2 is all the conflict - what happens to challenge the mission of getting water? Our character falls down a hole, or is confronted by a wild animal, or indeed falls in the stream and floats away. Act 3 is how our character made it back to camp. How did they manage? What did they do? What have they learned from the experience?
Sometimes we are still living the story we want to write about. There is no resolution yet. We don't know what the end will be. Should that stop you from writing your story? No, I don't think so. You'll probably have the first two parts of your arc, and some memoirs do end with nothing being resolved.
Whatever your story and wherever you are in it, tell it.
Write it honestly and truthfully, because therein lies the power.
Don't miss the boat ...
Don't let the boat sail without you! Join me for my Introduction to Memoir Workshop on Sunday 18 April. Find out more ...
It's so easy to say, 'I won't think about that today - I'll think about that tomorrow'. That's what Scarlett O'Hara said after shooting a Union soldier dead in the foyer of Tara. She decided to sort that one out later.
We do that with our writing. We always think we have another day, another month in which to begin, or we'll plan to write our memoir next year because we'll have more to write about ... oh yes and a nice new laptop on which to write it, and maybe a flash office with a comfy chair and a beer fridge in the corner with a potted African violet on top for a bit of colour.
Before we know it, that ship has sailed and we're left on the grass, watching the opportunity vanish into the distance of life.
If you've ever wanted to start some writing, or a memoir, now is the time. Procrastination is no longer an option. We may not have that seemingly endless spool of time that will keep unravelling before us, day after day, month upon month, year after year.
Maybe you need some help to get started. Nothing wrong with that and getting going can often be the first hurdle we have to jump over. And we do throw up a lot of those. It's kind of like a self-destruct mechanism, a default position almost, thinking up barriers to stop ourselves from beginning. Common ones are: I don't have time, or I have nothing to write about because my life has been so boring (remember, there can be a lot of interest and depth in boring!), I have nowhere to write, I need new glasses etc etc.
Others may be 'I don't want to hurt someone by writing my truth about them' or 'What will people think of me when they read what really happened?' These can be emotionally difficult to get through, but there are ways through.
You just need to begin the writing.
Join me for my Introduction to Memoir workshop on Sunday 18 April and we will get you started on your story. We'll talk about those hurdles and find ways over.
We'll get you on board that boat before it sails away.