Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What is Memoir?--Linda Thomas

Always remember, and never forget, what you’ve seen God do,and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren!
~Deuteronomy 4:3a, 9, paraphrased

I suspect God smiles at the word memoir and at those who write memoirs—at least our kind of memoirs. In fact, I believe He originated the concept (based on verses above and many more!) So…we’re about to embark upon a holy endeavor.

What is memoir?

Memoir is not autobiography, but the two can overlap. Autobiography starts with your birth and covers your whole life, but memoir focuses on a segment of your life—a specific aspect, theme, or time period—which you explore in depth. Our theme is Deuteronomy 4:3a, 9, paraphrased: Always remember, and never forget, what you’ve seen God do, and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren! So, what have we seen God do—for us, through us, in spite of us—that we can record for our descendents?

In answer to that, I based today's post on Matthew 6:8, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (See also Isaiah 65:24.) You, too, probably recall a time God met a need even before you had time to ask. If you keep that example in mind while reading the following, it will give you some context.

You’ll need more than historical facts to convey your stories’ most important messages. Pondering, examining, unraveling, musing, and reflecting are necessary ingredients in memoirs. In the writing process, you will examine what God was doing as you see it now, in retrospect. The stories in your memoir will include your thoughts—even your struggles—to understand what God wanted to teach you and how, over time, He made it clearer to you.
  • Looking back, what did you learn about yourself?
  • Do you see a pattern in your faith you hadn’t noticed before?
  • How did the experience change your life? What new person did you become?
  • Do you now have a better understanding of God’s purpose for your life?
  • What did you learn about God?
  • How did the experience strengthen your faith for future challenges?

In summary, your stories will capture how you remember God’s activities in your life and what you discovered about both God and yourself. A memoir can be a few pages or a whole book. I suggest you aim at writing a collection of short chapters.

In coming weeks, we’ll examine options for compiling your stories, but for now, here’s …

This week’s assignment:

  • Start small: choose two or three occasions in which God acted on behalf of you and/or your family: turning points, answered prayer, decisions, the happiest/saddest day of your life, etc. (Avoid traumatic or complicated stories; you’ll learn the craft of memoir more easily if you start with straightforward events.)

  • Write rough drafts, three to five pages for each occasion. Include pertinent Bible verses. (You’ll revise your stories each week so don’t worry about perfecting them yet!) These will be chapters in your finished memoir. You can write stand-alone pieces or a series of related stories.

  • The writing books listed in the right column are great resources.

Your stories will help shape the spiritual lives of your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and anyone else who reads them (your “spiritual children”).

Your memoir could be the finest gift you’ll ever give, so pray for God’s help!


Jamie Jo said...

Thanks so much! My Amazon wish list is growing long with writing resources. I look forward to "summer school" continuing to work on my writing assignments. I love this blog!

Linda said...

Jamie Jo, you and I must be "kindred spirits" -- we share a love of writing resources, writing projects, and WOTH blogs!

junglebaby said...

This sounds interesting and maybe even fun, Linda. I'm going to give it a try.

Linda said...

Hey there, JungleBaby! I'm so glad you're going to give this a try. Yes, it can be fun, but even more than that, it's rewarding, spiritually. I pray that each person who writes their stories will be delightfully surprised at that added bonus.

Linda said...

Hi, Linda Thomas here. Last night my daughter told me she'd read the WOTH writers' blog and the first assignments and thought to herself, "Oh, man.... I have to write 15 pages in a week?!"

Friends, you can write only one page per story! Really! Just get something down on paper and next week we can expand on what you have.

Enjoy writing!


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