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.
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.
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?