Gather courage and write your life story

Friday April 15, 2016 Written by Published in Virtues in Paradise

This week, I will pause for applause, because I have just completed writing my first novel, A Scent of Sage. It will be published soon on Amazon, God willing.

 

I have written five other books, all focusing on virtues, and this one is no exception. It has virtues practices woven into the plot. However, as my first attempt at fiction, it took all the courage and confidence I have to believe I could do it.

They say you should write what you know, and so the experiences of the characters in the book, from mystical to historical are all things I have either experienced or witnessed. Personally, I think we should all be writers, recording our special memories for the ones to come after us. Have you ever thought of writing your memoirs? It is now a common practice for hospice volunteers to record the stories of people in their final days as a cherished gift for the family.

Recently an island mama came to see me for advice about writing a book about her life. She feels there is enough drama to eventually merit a movie production. Who knows? She may be right. I gave her a piece I have written for the many first time writers who have come to me for advice over the years.

My own writing career didn’t begin until I was in my 40s, when I felt a book on virtues for parents was needed. Little did I know how much I would love this new creative endeavour and that I would be blessed to have two best sellers among my books. Here are some tips in case you ever find the courage and determination to write your own life:

1.    Take a Leap of Faith

It takes great courage to consider writing. Many writers experience deep vulnerability. Whatever the theme, you are giving something from your gut, heart, soul and experience. As Red Smith says, “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at the blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.” So, don’t expect the process to be easy. It may well turn you inside out before it is through with you.

2.     Gather Your Thoughts

Just start writing down your stories, ideas, and random thoughts. Just put them down any which way, in a file marked Book Notes or Wild Ideas or whatever you choose to call it. Do what engineers call a “brain dump.”  The title will emerge later. Keep a wee notebook with you so that when a thought comes you can jot it down. As I told my friend the other day, this is the “waterfall stage”. Don’t try to set its banks or build a canal to structure it. Let it flow.

3.    Find Your Place and Your Pace

Choose a spot in your home or anywhere you feel you can relax and write. By hand or computer doesn’t matter. Then create a regular time to write, even if only for a half hour a day. Little by little, your book will take shape.

I believe everyone has stories worth telling, and in these islands, traditions that deserve to be preserved. One man recently told me of the way coconuts were tied to small tots to help them learn to swim, keeping them buoyant.

Another told me all about his brave service in the New Zealand Special Forces in Vietnam and the South Pole.

One story in particular had me laughing out loud when he described how the men stood in a circle around the South Pole and left remnants of their, um,  genes behind. Now that’s an image I won’t forget anytime soon! Worthy of a memoir? I say yes.

Write your stories as a legacy for the young ones while you can. Stories are where meaning, magic and mystery live. 

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