Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another Reason to Write

Six strangers encircled the doublewide table in the conference room. I found an empty seat and laid out my supplies. I'd brought a few handouts to pass out stuffed in my recycled real estate folder.

Memoirs.

I was going to teach retired missionaries how to write their memoirs.

How had I gotten here?

I took a deep breath. “Tell me about yourself."

One by one, they shared their facts. College, Spouses, Mission placement, and finally the date they retired to this compound in Florida.

Facts.

I’d never written a memoir—aren’t I still too young?---but I knew facts weren’t the way to go.

“How did you feel about these events? What happened to change you into who you are today?”

As a writer, I deal with emotions. I don’t want the facts, I want the feelings. I want the good stuff. And when we’re old or gone, I want my descendents to read about me and know why I made the choices I did.

As I explained my theory, something happened that hadn’t happened in a while.

First, my voice stopped shaking. But more importantly, a passion grew inside my heart again about how the writing of these stories could impact a coming generation.

And I get to be part of it.

I don’t know anything about memoirs but I do know people. And people love stories about the people they love.

But you have to write them down first. You have to feel them.

Are you doing that? Have you documented your personal stories?

44 comments:

paulgreci said...

Beautiful post, Terri!
I keep a journal off and on, mostly off these days, but this is a great reminder to dust it off.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Whoa. I love the part about feelings vs. facts. You are right--this is what sets apart a great memoir from a mediocre one.

I have journals going back twenty years or so, but haven't turned them into a book. Yet.

Excellent post, my friend!

Heather Sunseri said...

I keep a journal that documents the ups, downs and the inbetweens of my life. Sometimes life gets too busy, but I'm thankful for the stories I have managed to document.

Analisa said...

Funny how this came up today. Just yesterday my sister said to me. I hope you are writing this down. You really should think of doing a book on your experiences with God.
She has said this before. Makes me think.

Great post!

Linda said...

I'm excited for you on this new journey, Terri! As you know I am passionate about memoir writing. It is a gift we leave behind for those who will come after us.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Oh! how exciting for you, Terri -- this would be something I'd love to do, and you are so very lucky to be doing this - what a wonderful thing to be involved in!

Jan Cline said...

Oh boy. This could be big for you my dear. The minute you shared a while back that you were going to do this, I thought to myself "this is a huge thing." What a blessing you could be to so many people who want to share their lives but dont know how. Your background and own life experiences are the perfect training for this. It wouldnt take much to become an expert in this and then you have your platform. Wow.
And no, I dont have a record of my life experiences and Im going to start thanks to you.

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

I am not sure if this is a praise or a concern. I have kept a personal journal since I was a teenager. I have a large rubber maid tub full of them.

The good, the bad and the ugly. Quite possible every impactful moment of my life is written down, Lord help my children as they thumb though it when I'm gone!

I keep one of those black and white composition books at my side with my bible all the time. I usually always have it with me. I just never know when something will strike me that needs to be written down!


Blessings
R

Jill Kemerer said...

Well, I do know that my journals are NOT what I want my descendants to think I'm all about! I tend to whine and moan when journaling. This is a good question, Terri. I'm going to think about it.

Diane said...

I guess blogging for me is my personal stories. I certainly feel like the lighter side of me is out there, but not the heavier events.

Janna Qualman said...

See? We knew you'd be great! :)

I feel like my blog does just that, documents my life, because it's so much of me every post.

Carmen said...

I loved the realization in there that you get to be a part of something...working together to a final outcome. It's classic christianity!! I'm excited for you Terri!!

Journaling Woman said...

Yes, I am now writing about growing up and living in a rural area on my blog - The Ruralhood.

Karen Lange said...

What an exciting opportunity! I've often heard it said that everyone has a story...but what an impact these stories, with the God angle, will make.
Blessings,
Karen

Nancy said...

Some of my stories are in journals and many are in fictional stories. I feel that I am satisfied with how much of my life has been documented along with all of those good feelings.

Deborah said...

I love memoirs! What a blessing for you to be able to help these people write their stories.
My book is part devotional, part memoir. I hope my family appreciates having it one day....I wish I had something my parents or grandparents wrote.

AnooCre8ion said...

This is a great honor for you Terri. I am happy you get to do something like this. I have been journalling on and off throughout the years. Not much discipline there but you've encouraged me to write some more.

blessings,
vickie

Sally said...

I've kept a journal on and off for many years but the "memoirs" I enjoy going back to read are in the journal that documents things my son has said through the years that I wouldn't remember if I hadn't written them down. I call them my "Treasures of the Heart", Luke 2:51.

http://livelearnwithsally.blogspot.com/2010/04/treasures-of-heart.html

Tammy said...

I started keeping a journal ever since my mother dead 6 years ago.

There are days when I'll curl up on the couch, and grab one of her journals...it's like she right there next to me.

patti said...

Yes, I am!!
Some are mixed in my books; some are sealed tightly between the pages of my journals! At least a dozen, on everything from fine Italian paper to old spirals.

GREAT POST!
Patti

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I journal on a daily basis. It's a mix of my devotional time, prayer, working through my thoughts on situations, and other aspects of my life.

The really tough stuff will be fictionalized through the years. Other incidents will turn into devotionals and articles. Maybe I'll even do a book.

Blessings,

Susan :)

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I don't journal as much as I should. I'd rather be writing a novel than my life story. But I know I need to do it. Especially with all that's going on in the world today. I won't always be here, and I'd like my family to know what I was thinking during these tough times. Thanks for the reminder.

Ang said...

Very nice post, Terri. I've kept a journal for many years. So far I am on about book 5 or 6. Lately I haven't written anything...just important dates to remember such as births, deaths, weddings, etc. You've inspired me!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Lovely post, Terri! I tend to journal when I travel, am really happy or really sad...

Heidi Willis said...

What a wonderful experience! For both you and them!!

Other than the blog, I haven't really written much about myself in a long time. But I suspect there is a little of my passion lurking in my characters somewhere.

Jessica Nelson said...

I have journals from middle and high school, but after I got married I noticed a disturbing trend in that I only journaled when I was ticked at my new spouse. LOL!! So I haven't written in a journal for a very long time.

I'm glad your meeting went well!

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I'm glad you're sharing your passion and knowledge with them. It's funny how sometimes we don't realize how much we can give to others until we actually start doing it. Good for you for taking the risk!

Lin Floyd said...

good job, I have a passion for helping others find their voice through writing anything bios included. I wrote my life story when I turned 60th now 10 years later I'm still doing-writing a weekly column. So fun and now writing little books for my grandkids.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Terri...though I have never kept a journal I am tempted. Maybe one fine day I will get down to it.
Thanks for visiting my blog, you mentioned that you had a problem leaving a comment,don't know why you were having a problem, must be a blogspot problem.

Gwen Stewart said...

Oh, what a beautiful thing you get to do for some beautiful people. I have not written a memoir, but I love to read them! God bless you on your endeavor.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow, that's really cool. I bet you were fantastic!
I keep a journal on my daughter. I document funny things she does or says. We've been doing it since she was born. :)

PS. You won on a book on my blog!

BeckyJoie said...

That would certainly be a big project for me. LOL. I do some of that on my blogs but really, it is a great idea. I don't do as much of that as I used to. I always enjoy reading your blog, by the way.

Rita's Random Ramblings said...

It's great to feel passionate about what we're doing...it's a good indicator we are in the right place at the right time.

Love feelings vs facts!

Hugs, Rita

Julie Musil said...

Maybe I'm a little emotional today, but this post brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad there are people out there that are willing to write down their experiences and share them with readers. And I'm glad there's someone like you, who will help show them the way.

Linda Glaz said...

I use little bits of pieces of myself and family stories in each story I write. If there's not a personal snippet, the story seems to fade.

Deb Shucka said...

Hi Terri. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I really enjoyed your story and watching your passion settle in as your were teaching these people. I write narrative nonfiction/memoir and teach the writing of it. There's not much more satisfying or revealing than the sharing of our life stories. I'll be back here for more.

sarah said...

this is so exciting...I love reading about people and how their lives played out and why. My bookshelves are filled with real stories about real people.

T. Anne said...

You're awesome! Of course you're there, you just did it! Sounds like the class went really well. COngratulations!

Natalie said...

Lovely Terri. I kept a journal for a few years, does that count? My husbands grandpa is writing his life story right now and it is fun to read even though it isn't written brilliantly or anything. I think "people love stories about the people they love" is so true.

Carla Gade said...

Hi Terri,
I love your blog header, by the way!! What a gift to share what you do know about writing and how it can minister to the writer and reader. I'm doing a workshop on journaling in the fall - I have similar feelings about it, but I got encouragement from your post! Thanks for that. :)

Just Be Real said...

Terri, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Blessings.

Diane Marie Shaw said...

Terri, this was a help to me. I am working with another woman to put down the story of man who passed away last month at 90 years of age. He spent the last 40 years as a recovered alcoholic. He was huge in AA here and helped countless people turn their lives around. His life was very messed up before someone came into his life who believed he could be a better person.
I want to be able to get the emotions down, not just the facts. Our dream for the book is that it will impact a current and coming generations. Thank you for putting so well into words what we want to accomplish.

sanjeet said...

I love the part about feelings vs. facts. You are right--this is what sets apart a great memoir from a mediocre one.
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