The Art of Reflecting – Write Your Memoir & Tell Your Life Story
Reflect on your past.
It is good to think of the memoir as a strand of pearls with a string that runs through it. An autobiography is a chronological sequence from the start to the time of your death. This is often overwhelming for the reader.
In later episodes, I will describe many ways to capture a portion of your life that will teach and mentor those who read what you have written. You may choose to share enough pearls of wisdom to make a bracelet or earrings or just a single pearl that will teach those who are privileged to read it.
You may find that you will want to write your story in any or all of the following methods. Capture the feelings and emotions of a particular time or place, experience, or theme. You can always add to it next year or do a whole autobiography when you retire.
But begin today to capture the essence of who you are and the lessons you would like to teach. Creating a loving legacy of a memoir is a divine calling and not one that is shared by everyone. You have the opportunity to capture memories that only you experienced. You, alone, have the gift of moving those memories into a memoir.
Imagine the joy of a descendant reading about your struggle to make friends, or choose a career or find a spiritual home. They will be so grateful that you took the time to reflect on your life and made the choice to share with friends and family.
As the StoryTeller, We Ask You to Reflect and Recall
Recall (in your mind or in your conversations) a family story that you heard as a child. The story may be a fragment- in fact, that is how they handed most stories down. Oral historians have practiced this ancient art of teaching the coming descendants the stories of their ancestors in many traditions and nationalities
As you reflect, you may remember the setting, perhaps a family dinner, the characters present, and even the smells and sounds that are going on around you.
Now, write a list of the details you do remember. You are not writing a narrative, just making a list. Don't try to write text, just use short sentences, words, or phrases. This is not a finished product, but a process of reflecting and remembering.
Reflecting is where lists come in handy. As you reflect back on a specific instance, you will form a list that can be expanded later into a narrative or combined with another story. These lists help you to remember characteristics and details that may be useful in another story or in the overall memoir.
You may want to include:
Names, relationships to others involved in the story, the place and event, perhaps describe the house or circumstances around the place where the story took place.
Be as specific as you can with details. What were people wearing, what might have been playing on the radio, who else was present, what was going on in the outside world?
Using this list (which will help you reflect on the point you want to make with this story) Write a rough draft of a manuscript.
Keep this rough draft in a loose-leaf binder as a working copy.
This may or may not end up in your story.
Now, use this list-making method to write down some other anecdotes or stories.
You are simply making small in-roads into your memory.
Some questions to get the storyteller started
1. Tell me about the place where you born?
2. Tell me about your siblings. Where are you in the birth order of family?
3 What kind of work did your father do?
4. Do you have any special memories of your mother when you were a young child?
5. Are there any special smells or sounds that remind you of your mother?
6.. What were some of her interests, hobbies, traditions, etc?
7. Tell me about going to school? What was your favorite subject? Least favorite?
8. What were some of the chores you would do around the house?
9. What did you usually do in the summer when you were a child?
10. Do you remember going on any vacations? Were they to visit relatives or to visit new sites?