Life Gets in the Way of Writing Memoir

writng memoir/rocheller/flickr/I haven’t written anything about my memoir writing for a long time. Part of that is because I’ve only written on it sporadically. With my illustrator and publisher concerns with “Annie’s Special Day” and publishing posts for my blog, I have not been too serious about it. Also my grandson visited for a week twice in short succession. I’ll share photos of that when I learn how. I have submitted an article on personal essay in July and have been working on another children’s book. Like the title suggests, I’ve been too busy to write my memoir.

However, in a rare moment of leisure time the other day, I was browsing the net and came across Kathy Pooler’s blog, “WriteOn” (http://www.Krpooler.com/  ), about her writing a memoir which inspired me to write about my memoir. And it revived an interest in writing it. I thought I’d make time.

Recently I read Rikscott’s blog, “UphillWriting”, http://uphillwriting.org/2011/08/02/campnanowrimo.org/ and http://campnanowrimo.org/  and about national writing novel month or, NaNoWriMo; (http://nanowrimo.org/), which also encouraged me to write in my memoir as a test for the camp. I thought I’d see how long it would take to write the obligatory number of words for a day. I wrote three essays for a total of 1616 words and couldn’t find if that was near the daily standard or not. I also spell and grammar checked them with Word. Even though that wasn’t a requirement for the camp I didn’t want to put it in a folder with errors in it. That amount of words took pretty much a full day. It was harder than I thought.

The next day we had a family reunion a two-hour drive away in the Shenandoah Valley which took all day. When I came home in the evening, I only had time to look at email. No writing got done. I decided I’d wait for November to join Nanowrimo, the elected month for it, when I had more planning done and I can join in advance, not three days into it.

I’ve also been having spiritual issues with my memoir. These issues have kept me from my writing it.  I believe the past (as well as the present) is an illusion designed by our egos to keep us believing that we are separated from God. If I constantly feed my ego by dipping into the past I feel I won’t grow closer to God but further away, unless I link forgiveness and love to my past. And that would be my theme, my purpose in writing it. That’s where the real work would begin. And so in the writing, as usual, about my memoir, I came to a conclusion and had an insight. Without forgiveness and love, my memoir would be just another rant, just another tough life story. So in order to write my story, I need to grow spiritually and I don’t know how to rush that while I’m having so much fun living.

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” Cyril Connolly

How about you? Do you have a project that’s been sitting on the back burner, or one that you work on sporadically?Have you ever had spiritual issues holding you back from writing something?

Related posts http://Clarbojahn.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/how-to-clear-up-our-soul/

https://clarbojahn.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/3-memoirs-that-should-not-have-been-written-and -1-that-was-ok/

Advertisements

About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
This entry was posted in Faith Journey, memoir, personal growth, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Life Gets in the Way of Writing Memoir

  1. Most of us don’t have time to pen down our memoirs. We procrastinate it in hope of doing it later. In the end, the ‘later’ never comes. If we could educate the public on the therapeutic nature of memoirs, I guess the number may rise up. We, at My Life Chronicles, try to educate the mass and help people preserve memories.

    Like

    • clarbojahn says:

      Welcome to my blog. I have quickly gone to your site and browsed some. I think you do a good service chronicling histories for people. Memories of one’s life can be valuable for the following generations. My immigration story is one I would like to share with my grand children. And all those life lessons that took so long to learn the hard way are some of the reasons I ‘d like to write my memoir. But unless it’s shown to have survived with forgiveness and love it would just be a hard life story.

      Like

  2. suzicate says:

    You’re correct about purpose. Writing is cathartic…but you don’t want to publish a rant. I’m sure your memoir is filled with valuable life lessons. I wrote throughout a depression period…big time rants, in fact I just shredded those boxes of papers I’d held onto for years, such a release. I’ve healed. Now, I feel some of my writing may have value for others. Nothing I wrote at that time was any good for anyone except allowing me to get it out of my system. I firmly believe that writing and publishing are two very different purposes and we need not confuse them. Currently, I’ve been working more on writing for me…maybe publishing more will be in my future. I’ll have to see where life takes me. Let your life take you where you need to go, and you’ll get there in God’s timing.

    Like

    • clarbojahn says:

      What a beautiful comment, Suzicate, thank you. Yes, I also have journals full of rants from when I wrote during a depressive period as you describe it. I haven’t shredded it but will. I haven’t looked at it since and maybe once I do will feel the need to throw it out. Writing heals my soul also. And is full of realizations that without writing I would not get to. I have to write to think. Thank you for saying it’s in God’s timing that my life will unfold. I do feel compelled to make public some of my private journals. I think others will benefit from reading it. It just takes some courage to put it forth.

      You’re writing is so marvelous that we are all enriched by it and I love being subscribed to both your blogs. If that’s writing for you…I just have to say, you bless all those that read.

      Like

  3. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    I began writing a memoir in 2008 about my late husband. With a too weak platform and a depressing economy, I received several rejections for my book proposal in 2009. I remarried in 2008 and took a break from the manuscript while pregnant in 2009-2010. Then, a move to another state and all that chaos kept me hopping until this year. So, I decided to regroup. I’ve written several personal essays and have been trying to find a home for them. I also took time out for a picture book writing retreat (something I wanted to do before the crisis 10 years ago that began the whole story that is covered in the memoir). My plan is to finish the memoir manuscript in 2012. Good luck to you. I know life can change our writing plans.

    Like

    • clarbojahn says:

      Welcome to my blog, Stacy. I’d be interested in reading your book. I too am remarried after a death of my late husband. But was much older. I had a ten and fourteen year old at the time. You must have been quite young. A story of grief and loss is hard to write without sounding too depressing. And it takes courage. My hat goes off to you to have completed the manuscript. Thank you for visiting and stopping to comment.

      Like

  4. nrhatch says:

    I would not spend time writing about the past unless it improved my life today. The past has as its purpose bringing us to THIS door. Once we arrive HERE, we can spend time looking over our shoulders at where we’ve been or we can keep moving forward to embrace the present.

    Many memoirs are far from therapeutic ~ instead, people are just picking the scabs off of old wounds to share their pain and grief with others. That is definitely not how I want to spend my limited time on the planet.

    Sounds like you’ve got the proper balance in place. 😀

    Like

    • Clar says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Yes, the past brought me here. I love that. I could take scabs off or forgive old grievances. I choose to forgive. If I’m going to be sharing pain I hope to bring insight, strength and courage to the present in the form of forgiveness. Not the band aid variety but the Course in Miracles kind where one extends love and compassion.

      I hope it’s true that I have the proper balance in place. 🙂

      Like

  5. Clar,
    You’ve touched upon so many universal issues for anyone writing memoir. Whenever we dig deeper, we can unearth lots of unexpected feelings. It truly is a journey. I’m with Suzycate- just keep writing to get it out and eventually it may take on its own form. I am finding if I keep writing ,the story leads the way. Scenes and people I wasn’t even thinking about just pop in.I think self-forgiveness is so important in freeing you up to get your story out. I went through this very struggle a few months ago and blogged about it here in June:http://krpooler.com/?p=1265
    Thank you so much for the mention and the link,too. It is so nice to have company on this daunting,exhilerating journey! I look forward ot hearing your updates and Yes, life makes it challenging to write but I guess if we don’t live it, we wouldn’t have anything to write about! 🙂

    Like

    • Clar says:

      Welcome to my blog. It’s an honor to see you here.Thank you for your link, but you have misunderstood my term of forgiveness. I don’t want to forgive myself but my unloving parents. I was not exactly abused but had parents who didn’t know how to show love or were torn too thin by too many children too close together. And at the death of my late husband my mother mistreated me terribly and prolonged my grieve causing it to become dysfunctional.

      I”m at the place with that in what Nancy describes pulling off the scabs of old wounds or allowing my writing to be therapeutic. I have already visited this in my journals and it was a good thing I didn’t re-read them while they were still alive because I wouldn’t have been able to help them in their old age as much as I did. I had forgiven them but if I write the memoir of loss and grief that pain will be revisited on many people. Is that a good or bad thing? Should I let old horses die? I have to plan my structure of my memoir and how much of it to share.

      Like

  6. I find these comments from fellow memoir writiers encouraging. It’s a nice reminder of similiar challenges as we share the cross hairs of our writing lives. I’ve been working on my memoir almost nonstop for eight years. Okay, so I’m not a particuarly fast writer, but I’m passionate enough and stubborn enough to keep at it. I’m finally far enough along to contact agents. Thanks for checking out my blog, Clarbojahn. It’s an honor.

    Like

  7. Dear Clar,
    Write for yourself,first and foremost- for your own healing of memories. No one else that would be involved needs to even know you are writing at this point. This is your story and only you can write it. Deal with others later if and when you decide to publish it. I hope you do join NAMW I think you’ll find a lot of support and so many common concerns about facing the “raw stuff”. There is no right or wrong. Only you can decide what you are willing to share. I have found that writing is a healing pathway that evolves over time as I keep writing. I could feel your pain as you described your circumstance. I wish you peace and healing whatever you decide to do.
    Blessings, Kathy

    Like

    • clarbojahn says:

      Thank you, Kathy for coming back to address what I had written. It means a lot to me. I wonder if we can email? I would love a closer connection to you and ask other questions about a spiritual nature. I will join NAMW. do you have a link? Or should I just google it? Again thank you for your support. 🙂

      Like

  8. Dear Clar,
    I agree with Kathleen. I think the forgiveness and love will come as you write, the writing itself is very much a healing process. Don’t hold anything back and you can go back and decide what to cut and share or if you want to publish for the public once it’s written. Get it all down and all out.
    I’ve found the memoir extremely difficult, there was so much that I was in denial about, even today. (To my surprise.) But I met weekly with a my friend Michelle (which we document in our blog) who is working on her own memoir to edit 2 chapters a week. Talking things out with her as I wrote helped me realize things I would have never figured out on my own. Our friendship and the entire process has been a real blessing. It might help to include other people or the NAMW group.
    But the forgiveness and love will come if you write– and if you let it. Be patient and kind with yourself. I wish you the best in all your writing! 🙂

    Like

    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, writing has always been healing for me and often I have to write in order to know what I think.
      I will look your blog up later when I have more time. Thank you for visiting and leaving such a heartfelt comment. I agree that a friend would greatly benefit me in my writing. Just posting this blog has brought forth many new thoughts about it through the comments. They are most valuable. And I will join NAMW.

      Thank you for saying to be gentle and patient with myself. My inner judge has been at work this morning. 🙂

      Like

  9. My inner judge, I have one of those too. She loves to work overtime. 🙂

    Like

Comments are closed.