Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Assembling Your Memoir--Linda Thomas

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor.…
You are the ruler of all things. In Your hands are strength and power.…
Now, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name.
I Chronicles 29:11-13

Now that you’ve written three or more chapters (stories), and you’ve started a running list of additional stories you’ll write in the future (you will, won’t you?!), let’s consider assembling them into a finished memoir.

The beginning and the ending of your collection of stories:

Place the following at the beginning of your collection of stories:
  • Title: for the front cover and inside on your title page. Example: “The Mountain’s Top,” by Jane Doe.
  • Dedication: (to whom you are writing these stories).
  • Table of Contents (optional): chapter titles with page numbers.
  • Introduction: state why you’ve written these stories. Let your personality shine. Include what you hope readers will take away from your stories. Sign your name, date, place, and perhaps a photo of yourself.

At the end of your collection of stories, write an epilogue, and make it a grand finale—a celebration of God. Make it personal. Leave your descendants inspiration, direction, purpose, wisdom, and courage in making life’s hard decisions.

Suggestions for your epilogue:

  • What do you envision Heaven will be like? (You might be there when some descendants read your memoir.)
  • Hymns:
    1. All the way my Savior led me

    2. God Be With You Till We Meet Again
  • Bible verses and benedictions:
    1. Numbers 6:24-25- The Lord Bless you and keep you….

    2. I Kings 2:1-3 - When the time drew near for David to die he gave a charge to Solomon his son. “…So be strong….” (See also IChronicles 28:9 and 29:19.)

    3. Ephesians 3:14-19 - … I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through the Spirit….

    4. Philippians 1:9-11 - And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more … so that you may be able to discern what is best….

Since your grand finale can be emotionally draining for both you and your readers, consider ending with a little humor. I tacked this at the end of one of my memoirs; it’s a family joke that will make my kids smile:

Matt and Karen: If I die before your dad does,
remind him to lock all the doors before he goes to bed at night.

Possible formats for your finished memoir:

  • booklet
  • published book
  • scrapbook or three-ring binder
  • a spiral notebook, empty book, or journal (in your own handwriting)

Be sure to include photos and mementos!

Dear friends, thank you for sharing the past five weeks with me. I encourage you to continue learning the craft of memoir (this was merely an overview), keep writing, have fun, and give your stories to your kids and grandkids, because “…an unfinished manuscript cannot change lives. Even a finished one cannot minister in a drawer or filing cabinet. One in published form can … go where you and I will never go, to people we [might] never meet…” (Lee Roddy, writer, speaker, writing teacher).

Your memoir can shape your descendants’ values, choices, culture, and faith, and help them find their place in your family and God’s. Celebrate God and connect His stories with those of your family.

~ Linda

[Editor's note: You must enter the Linda Thomas-inspired "Write a Memoir" Contest! See sidebar for details. Thanks, Linda, for your expertise and heart!]

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