Thursday, June 23, 2011

Memoir Mysteries

On Tuesday mornings all through last year, women met in the living room of my yellow house on Pink Tractor Farm and investigated the mystery of their own real-life stories.

Together we assembled the tools of excavation. We created a safe place among all of us for telling stories that touched deep places inside each one of us. We brought our whole, full hearts to the enterprise. We mustered our willingness to be open whatever risk that might involve.

Most of all we assembled our eagerness to answer the question that lies at the heart of every well crafted and well told mystery story. What is the truth here?

In our case, we weren’t looking for universal truth or even a truth that the other real-life characters in our real-life stories might agree with. We were looking for our own truth, the truth at the center of our hearts, our emotional truth.

We went about this exercise of archeology into the depths of our own mysterious histories by gathering the evidence. We gathered that evidence in the form of stories by collecting the episodes of our own experiences.

We focused on our best episodes in storytelling terms, those stories from our mysterious histories that are most dramatic, most powerful, most intense and sometimes those episodes that are most funny.

The investigation, the search, the dig down deep into the archeological site of each of us was only the beginning. After that, the crafting happened.

Stories have the power to make sense of our lives. That sense evolves naturally out of shaping each experience, each episode, each moment into a gem of a scene with a beginning, a middle and an end, then polishing it to a luster that shines true for each of us.

Suddenly, the fog surrounding the mystery of ourselves and our often confused and stumbling passage through the decades of our existence begins to clear, at least for the patch of time and heart that is occupied by each individual story. Suddenly, we see light and feel it also where there may have been questions or, more potently, silence and secrets.

Then we speak. We cast aside silence and secrets and share our stories with pride and trembling in this safe place we have created where the brave act of speaking is shared and applauded.

That is what happened in my living room. Women who had not considered themselves writers found the words that said almost truly what they wanted to say. They honed those words and in the process became writers of themselves.

It was a glorious time, those two hours each week, so much so that I intend to spread the experience from my long-time living room in the Pacific Northwest to my new living room in New York City, perhaps as soon as later this year.
I will invite other women to join me for the discovery of their gems of personal emotional truth. I will guide them toward telling those stories in all their dramatic wonder with skill and beauty. The mysteries will unfold and unwind and untwist from the center of the heart. It will again be glorious.

I can hardly wait.

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