Recently, another writer asked, “Are you working on your memoir? It seems you’ve lived an interesting life.”
In fact, I have been writing my memoir for several years. Only one piece remains, but I have to wait for life to hand me the answer for the final chapter.
It’s common for people in my demographic, especially writers, to look back and review our lives. But a good memoir is more than just an autobiography or a review of life’s circumstances.
The most effective memoir carries an ongoing theme which cements the pieces of life together. My cement becomes apparent with each telling of the facts.
Dad and I worked together as a ministry team for much of my childhood. Whether it was a downtown mission for homeless men or Sunday afternoon at the nursing home, we served together. Dad played his guitar and led the singing of hymns while I played piano and occasionally sang a solo.
Then I came home, opened my diary and wrote about the day. My Red Chief tablet became the medium for stories which I sent to Reader’s Digest. I tore up the rejections when they landed in the farm mailbox, but even that scathing critique could not stop the flow of my words.
After college, I traveled to Honduras where I taught at a school for missionary kids. I kept a journal during that time and later wrote The Plain Path, my first book. It is now out of print, but I gave it to several youth groups who were prepping for mission work.
Ministry continued as I served in my church with music and childhood education. Then followed several years in nonprofits such as a parolee recidivism program and a pregnancy crisis center with an adoption service. I worked as a communications director, a biblical counselor and an administrative assistant. During the evenings, I wrote articles and fillers, stories and books — still unpublished.
A group of supporters sent me to my first writers conference where I learned the basics of what editors want. By that time, I was a wife and mother, still serving in nonprofits and the church — writing more words while my son slept.
It was an article about miscarriage that catapulted me into the publishing world and became the impetus for more spin-offs. Then stories for children where I found ready markets about parenting and marriage. I still attempted books but couldn’t find an agent who wanted my work.
Then followed several years as an international minister at the University of Kansas. I loved meeting people from all over the world and helping them adjust to the US. During those years, I wrote curriculum for teaching English, devotions to send via email around the world and articles about cultural differences.
The hard years began with divorce, job loss, financial struggles and the responsibility of raising my son while working several jobs. But I continued helping a nonprofit that served uninsured people, then moved to a new position as administrative assistant for chaplains.
By this time, my articles sold regularly which padded the income and kept us fed. An accidental meeting with an acquisitions editor morphed into a contract for my first novel, then the rest of the trilogy. Finally, I saw my books on library shelves.
At another ministry assignment, I was offered the opportunity to become a certified life coach. That decision merged into multiple articles, but also the joy of helping women find their direction in life, especially when starting over single.
Coaching writers became a natural progression from life coaching, and my books started multiplying. I added editing as another stream of income and studied the pros and cons of Indie Publishing.
Through the years, I often envied people who worked in one job for 30+ years and retired with a substantial pension. But that was not the way my life worked out. I have filled numerous journals and to date completed 14 books. And I have met fascinating people who all have their own stories.
But always, my goal has been to help others with their journeys and move them toward some semblance of hope. When I look back, my memoir cement includes various ministries while always surrounded by some sort of writing.
At the heart of my life is the power of communication, especially with the written word. Writing has always been a dream, but essentially — my destiny. Through coaching writers, editing and continuing to write my own projects, the dream has become my vocation and now — my final act.
The memoir is not complete, but I will finish it. When it is ready to be published, hopefully it will bring my readers closer to another step of hope. Then I will know for certain — my life had meaning.
©2020 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
If you’d like to check out my words, have a look-see at my Amazon Author Page.
You are an amazing person and I look forward to that piece coming into place so I can read your memoir.
Thanks, Amy. I appreciate the comment.
Great post. Great writing. Succinct, and enjoyable read. (Being succinct when encapsulating your lifetime is a commendable act! I may have to take that challenge and see if I can encapsulate my lifetime as well – wowsers!) Well done! Loved it. Love you. Keep on encouraging and writing and blessing those around you. I’m blessed to know you.
Elaine Elaine McAllister
Author of *Celebrate Grandparenting: 101 Ideas to Intentionally Connect with your Grands, * *Harvest of Joy and The Road to Explode (to be released January 2020)*
Facebook:@Elaine “York” McAllister or @ElaineMcAllisterWordCrafter
Linked in: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ElaineMcAllister
Thanks, Elaine. I’m glad your book(s) are doing so well !
I’m crying reading this because it resonates so personally with my spirit, a trauma survivor dedicated to helping other abuse victims find Christ for inner healing. I started college as a journalism major but was told that my dyslexia made me a horrible writer, so I switched to psychology and dance to pursue dance therapy and forge a new healing modality. Then life took detours with the waves of turbulent times and now 20 years later I am single, starting over and getting back to my first love. Please pray for me as I have just enrolled in graduate school for Trauma Therapy yet still have three books of promise from The Lord awaiting to be published. I write to heal and often share deep depictions of times when I made wrong decisions. I don’t want to lose time for writing by embarking on a journey that will require devotion.Yet, I have a small nudging within that tells me it will all be used to God’s Glory. Thank you for your story.
What a wonderful writer you are – and doing such important work ! May God be present every day as you learn more about trauma therapy and see those books published. I believe in you!
Thank you from a full heart!!!!!