The Testament of a Life Well Lived
This story, from my previous blog, Your Publishing Pros, tells the story of a woman who was asking for advice on a book she wanted to write, but couldn't seem to move forward on. It was a book about her life. Not a memoir so much as a testament.
She's endured more and survived more than most of the rest of us. Unless you watch Dr. Phil. Her life is a life of tattered dreams and darkness. It's a story of trials and tribulations. It's a story of rejuvenation and the joy of life - if you can only find that joy and hold onto it.
She told me, over coffee, that she wanted the book to be a testament to the power of a person’s inner spirit. A dark story that comes to the light and demonstrates how the human condition allows us to overcome and defeat anything – anything at all.
Sense of Self and Determination
As we talked, I found myself lost in the story she was telling. I lost all sense of place and time. The diner we were in slipped away; the chatter all around us was silent; time itself stopped as moments ticked on into infinity. I lost myself in her world. As she spoke, weaving her tale, be I could see the book forming. I could see the cover, with her picture on it. I could imagine the preface written by someone important, the introduction outlining her strong sense of self and her determination. I had no doubt she could and should write the book.
The book became real to me, in those moments. I believed she could achieve whatever goals she wished to achieve. But, even as I listened and became an extra in the movie of her life, I knew she needed to do more. I told her to dig deep and find her unique focus. The world is overflowing with stories of abuse. We have thousands of voices telling us we can overcome any tragedy life throws at us.
"You need to tell YOUR story," I said. "The of the woman you are now. Of your successes. Of your achievements. Of your determination - from girlhood to womanhood, and what that means - far beyond the scenes of terror and fear you endured."
I knew her book needed to be a full narrative of how she did not let a life of darkness define her. "But," I cautioned her, "there needs to be something new and fresh and unique and only you know what that is."
Define and Discover
Could I help her define it? Yes.
Could I help her discover it? Yes.
Could I help her open the door in her soul that yet remained closed, to allow her truth out - beyond the reporting of her experiences, all the way to showing the world how to defeat the shadows that threaten to swallow some of us whole? Yes.
Listening to her that day, dispelling my disbelief, I began to think she needed to write the book, to save her own life.
Are there times you will write to save your life? Will you compose blog posts to vent and ramble and vomit the words onto the keyboard, as your fingers grab each word, each phrase, each paragraph, and throw them on the blog, just to get them out?
Blog as Journal
I encourage my writers to do just that, on their blog. Perhaps not for public consumption, but as a way to journal their story and watch their book take form.
When you write to save your life, the flow of the story may seem sequential, because you’re composing it from day one of memory, to present time, but when you edit, you will uncover memories that conflict with what is on paper; memories that go deeper, so much so, you wonder if you can share them in this book you are creating. Memories you have hidden, even from yourself.
That story, so full of dark memories, with no light or solution on the horizon, is a story for your eyes only.
A story full of memory, sung much like Betty Buckley from Cats, is a story to be shared. The new dawn that is dawning no longer belongs only to you - it's a shared story meant to inspire readers to leave the darkness behind them and face each day with joy - just as you have done.
If the book you’re writing is meant to save your life, make it powerful. Make it useful. Make it compelling. Don’t tell the story – make the reader feel it! Don’t share yesterday by reporting what happened - learn to bring each moment alive, learn the elements of show, don't tell! Learn how poetry can make the story so much more meaningful!
You do this, you share the story, make each reader feel the story, to save your life. And you end up saving so many others' lives!
Trial and Tribulations
Your book needs to be more than a list of trials and tribulations, or how you overcame a fear of spiders. It’s in the story of what happened after, the story of the ‘now’ you, that brings your audience into your narrative. Experiences that beat you down or left you bloody are important, as we are still talking about saving your life, but gory and grim to an extreme is overrated. Leave that to Edgar Allan Poe.
Business professionals and entrepreneurs are hungry for books that will save their lives. They aren’t going to write the book – too many of them are both afraid of the story they might tell, and wary of how to put it on paper.
In the writing, in the sharing, in the speaking it out loud, you can and will save many other lives.
Write as if each word could be the turning point in the success of your business.
My life is writing. My life is full of silence, straining to see, to hear, to tell the stories that float above the surface of every conversation, begging for attention.
My life is full of desire to write those stories – with you. yvonne (at) yvonnedivita (dot) com.
p.s. I did a fair amount of editing here. I also did a fair amount of rewriting. That's the beauty of telling a story on paper. It's spongy. Even when life is not.