Happy New Year! Most of us think of the New Year as a time of new beginnings. We have been hibernating against long cold nights, or days of wind, snow, and rain. Even in California, our winter, though mild, invites contemplation. The stark emptiness of landscapes without leaves is striking. We can learn from this paring away of excess, a revelation of the bare structure of trees and shrubs. As D. H. Lawrence expresses in the above quote, we confront our own deepest nature and questioning as we look at the naked trees. In the simplicity of a bare tree, we find assurance that even our simplest ideas will burst forth into bloom in the spring.
As writers, we find ourselves searching for a central idea, kernel of wisdom or transformation, the revelation residing at the heart of our stories. We write ourselves into the core of the story, exploring the branches of our ideas, characters, and settings. This kind of wandering and exploration is necessary as we traverse our mental landscapes. Editing is like pruning, as we take away the unnecessary ideas and words, but at the beginning of our writing, we need to have the freedom of writing everything down before we know what needs to be pruned. We need permission to wander, to muse, contemplate. I hope the darker days and long nights are a fertile time for your creativity.
This is a good time to make your Writer’s New Year’s Resolutions:
- I will be brave with my writing.
- I will write for 10 minutes a day.
- I will read good literature to stimulate my creativity.
- I will focus on the positive aspects of my writing and not listen to that pesky inner critic.
- I will join a community of writers and creative people to feed my writing soul.
Musings by Linda–The Journey of Memoir Writing
During the last year, I have marveled at how much power there is in memoir writing. In my workshops and coaching, I observe amazing and breathtaking changes, often quite surprising to the writers.
Many come to writing saying, “I’m not really a writer,” or “I don’t plan to write much, I just want to try a few things,” but find themselves drawn to giving free rein to thoughts, memories, and feelings not shared or even known before. The writing shifts into surprising discoveries, as if following a path made of silver stones to see where they lead. Sometimes the writing seems like magic, coming from nowhere, taking off in directions the writer couldn’t predict.
Many writers put pen on paper with an idea or intention only to find ourselves writing something else. Writing can seem slightly scary, like a semi-wild animal on the page, ready to rush into trouble, dark forests or dangerous caves without warning. That’s the pleasure of writing–you discover that nothing bad can really happen to you, and you begin your writing journey with a frisson of excitement.
Writing is a journey into the unknown with the only danger of pen on paper, into an unknown territory that is ourselves and our memories. We journey into the magic realms of who we are, who we have been, and where we are going. All hero or heroine journeys lead to the unknown, contain elements that are unexplainable, and require guides and companions to help find the way. Your writing group, your mentors, and fellow authors are your guides.
I hope your New Year is full of many rich and creative journeys.
Begin now with Memoir Story Openers
Write for 5-20 minutes on each idea. Save the vignettes to assemble later.
- What spiritual ritual do you have for this time of year?
- Write about January–your favorite activities now and in the past. Your feelings, memories, associations with this time of year.
- Describe the town you grew up in during winter. What did it look like, smell like, feel like? Any special events or happenings that you remember?
- Write five New Year’s goals or resolutions that will help you focus your life for the future.
- Write a story about who you were, what your favorite objects, toys, and people when you were ten years old.
- Reflect upon the political scenarios you have been witness to and how each of them changed your life.
Save these stories/vignettes safely in a file to draw upon them for your longer memoir stories collection.