There are lots of things I wish I could ask my Mom.
Things no one else on the planet knows.
Like why I got veneers on my two front teeth in childhood.
Or what changed in her heart to make her stick out a painful marriage.
She was always highly private, not even revealing her true self to her closest friends. Keeping herself secret even from her own children and husband.
In the movie Titanic, the narrator says "A woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets", which I suppose could sound mysterious and enticing, but to me it sounds like isolation and withholding. It sounds like everyone loses when our hearts remain unshared.
Two years ago, Mom passed away, leaving behind a lot of things like that I'll never know now. They are lost forever.
As a writer, a communicator, and a human, it makes me sad that we could not know each other better - that memories weren't shared.
The good thing about it is that it reminds me how powerful storytelling is, and motivates me to keep writing down stories. Recording my observations, thoughts, and even the everyday happenings and goofy stories that are part of our family (like my weird jellyfish experience) So we remember! (I'm sure half the reason I'm a writer at all is because my memory is terrible.)
All that to say two things.
First, I want to encourage you to SHARE your memories.
Record them somewhere. It doesn't have to be a book or even a cohesive story. Just write down or voice record memories as they come to you. Take notes. At least they're down then, and can be shared later if not now. At least it will be an option.
Recently I was chatting with a woman who has wanted to write her memoir. For years she's wanted to. For years, I've heard her tell interesting stories that I agree, should be recorded. And for years, she's put it off. As I explored her reasons for being stalled, I discovered several. One of them was this idea that to write a memoir required deciding to sit down and plod through almost without stopping until it was done. In her mind, it was a giant undertaking, so she put it off until 'one day' when she 'had time' for that kind of dedicated time investment.
But 'one day' is a day that never comes.
"It doesn't have to be about sitting and writing a book," I said, "You tell interesting stories to your family and friends all the time! It can be just writing down one. Just start with one. That's it. Put it in a folder, and you're done."
"Oh! I never thought about it like that," she said, seeming less burdened.
"It's not about a big project. Just getting down the pieces so the memories don't fade away or die with you."
I'm saying it to you too; if you're putting off writing your memoir or even just jotting down some of your memories, please don't. Get them down. Even just one memory stuffed in a folder is better than none.
The second thing I'd like to tell you is a secret about writing.
Whether you're documenting memories, analyzing a process, or spinning a tale, writing can feel like a big undertaking. And getting that writing into readers' hands (aka marketing), is the Goliath we all face.
It's all so DAUNTING sometimes, isn't it?
It's enough to make a writer dream of the hermit life.
Here's the secret I've discovered.
Action is the cure.
It really is. Especially when we're moving with the trust that God will open doors that need opening and close doors that need closing.
Listen, whether you believe in God or not, the truth is a static object can't be steered.
Get moving - pick a direction - and you'll start to see a path unfold.
It won't feel safe, certain, or even sane necessarily, but doors will start to open and close around you.
God said he'd part the water for Moses and the Israelites all those years ago in the desert,
but Moses had to first step into the water. He had to literally take that step of faith. This is often how God operates.
Don't know what your writing 'voice' is yet? Write anyway.
Not sure how the story you're writing will end? Keep writing.
Wondering if anyone will even read it when it's done? Keep going!
Because things will become clearer as you move forward.
Jeff Goins would call this process 'Practicing in Public'.
Jim Watkins would say 'a river cuts through rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.'
If you want to get somewhere, it requires moving.
In the meantime, what's one highlight (memory) from your summer? Consider it a writing challenge ;). Comment below! I'd love to read it.