Tag Archives: Writing

My Memoir Monster

If my memoir is a monster
Taking on a life of its own
Does that make me Dr. Frankenstein
Madly nurturing what I’ve grown

Or am I more like Dr. Jekyll
Consumed by my Mr. Hyde
A raging egomaniac
Fueled by wanton pride

Maybe it’s Leviathan
The great monster of the sea
Tamed at last by God alone
Just like the sin in me

I wish it were a jigsaw puzzle
Of Bigfoot or old Nessie
With pieces that fit neatly together
Instead of being so messy

In the end it’s just my story
Dying to be told
One page at a time, not in rhyme
Hopefully before I am old

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Decided to share this for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub today.

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Choices

Life is a series of choices

Some seem insignificant
but have life-changing impact

Others we agonize over
but are insignificant
in the grand scheme of things

Some choices
appear to be the only option
We can’t see the consequences to come
or alternatives before us

I’ve spent many long hours
pondering the” what ifs” of choices
that turned out bad.
If only I hadn’t…
then maybe everything would be better.

But ultimately
there is but one choice that truly matters
It is a choice we all face

Do I trust God or do I go it alone?

All is not rainbows and roses
if one chooses to trust
Hardship and regret don’t instantly
melt away

Life is still a series of choices
including the choice
to trust God with my mistakes

Including the choice
to share my story
my series of choices
with the world
in the hopes of encouraging another

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Sifting Beans

I’m sifting through dry beans
picking out rocks
tossing damaged beans
skipping the limas
keeping the good ones
planning a steaming hot
pot of bean soup with bacon
carrots, celery, and onion
a few of my favorite herbs

Or maybe I’m writing a memoir

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It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and Toni offers the word “skip” for inclusion in our 44-word poems today. I’m thinking about what to leave in and what to leave out of the memoir I’m writing.

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Birth of a Poem

How, pray tell, does a poet decide
Which words to lay side-by-side

How did Milton measure the cost
When he penned Paradise Lost

Could Dickinson take a single breath
Without thoughts of poetry on death

When describing Ben Adhem’s vision
By what motive was Hunt driven

Did Poe write poetry as a child
Or his odd thoughts drive him wild

How did the Brownings, poet pair
Pen sonnets of love with such flair

Did Frost truly encounter a road
From which his famous poetry flowed

How did Rosetti write love verse
Allowing the reader her faith to traverse

Did David find a sense of calm
With every line of every Psalm

Do other poets lie awake at night
Scribbling verse without the light

I desire sleep before break of day
But words come and won’t go away

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The first stanza of this poem was written in the dark in the notebook I keep on my nightstand. I wasn’t sure where it was going to go, but by light of day this is what I came up with. I could have added many more stanzas with references to many more poets, but decided I needed to stop somewhere. This is for day #25 of NaPoWriMo.

5/26/16: Decided to share this for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night because I am shy on time and inspiration to write something new today.

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Cry, Pray, Write

So you want to know how to write a memoir. Well here’s what I know.

Step one: Ask yourself if you’re nuts.  If yes, proceed to step two.

Step two: Attend a writing conference for inspiration.

Step three: Go home and cry because you don’t want to reveal the level of detail one conference speaker said you would have to.

Step four: Pray and ask God for direction.

Step five: Write and self-publish an autobiographical poetry book that vaguely addresses the story you want to write.

Step six: Tell yourself the poetry book is a sufficient memoir because, after all, we don’t know what Paul’s thorn was either.

Step seven: Have several people ask when you’re going to write your story.

Step eight: Write an outline of your story in your Color Notes app on your phone, then write two book proposals, one for your memoir and one for a devotional.

Step nine: Attend another writers conference and pitch your book ideas to editors and agents.

Step ten: Get sidetracked for three months working on a “marketable” idea from the agent, ignoring advice from a spiritual writing mentor.

Step eleven: Get further sidetracked writing and self-publishing a holiday poetry book.

Step twelve: Lie awake at night running scenes in your head of what you need to write, but not get up to actually write them down because you don’t want to disturb the sleeping dog.

Step thirteen: Tell your friends and family you’ve decided to write your memoir. (This step may be optional, but is helpful if you’re the kind of person who once they’ve said they are doing something has to do it.)

Step fourteen: Decide you need to learn more about the craft of memoir writing.

Step fifteen: Read memoir by spiritual mentor from writing conference.

Step sixteen: Read another memoir, and a book about how to write memoir, and another memoir, and another book about how to write memoir, then start reading a third memoir but decide it’s not believable and make a mental note not to write your memoir that way.

Step seventeen: Take advice from book on memoir writing and simply start writing one paragraph, one scene at a time.

Step eighteen: Get into text discussion with a friend who suggests yet another book on memoir writing you should read. Order said book on your Kindle, realize what you’ve ordered is actually a different book by that author, then order the paperback of the first book from Amazon.

Step nineteen: Write poems about writing memoir.

Step twenty: Stop worrying that your first draft is terrible (because as Anne Lamott says, they all are),  and resolve to write, edit, rewrite, and persevere.

I’m afraid that’s as far as I’ve gotten so you’ll have to come back next year for the remaining steps.

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The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write a “How To” poem. Since I am in the process of writing (or trying to write) my memoir, I thought I’d share a little step-by-step how-to on how to do it.

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Memories

Yesterday, Toni at Kanzen Sakura commented thanking me for writing two haibuns. I replied that I’d only written one. Apparently that’s because the second one was still in the works. So I’m posting this second haibun now for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub.

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Working on my memoir, giving in to the compulsion to communicate my story to whoever might need to read it, I decided I would have more success in actually getting the words on the page if I hand wrote. There is something about typing that makes me feel like it has to be perfect the first time, but handwriting builds in an automatic rewrite when I later type it up. So I rummage through my cloth basket of blank journals for just the right one. [This takes some time because there are probably 20 or more journals in that basket, evidence of another compulsion]. I find a 150-page spiral bound notebook with only 10 pages used up and decide that’s perfect. I peruse what’s been written and come across these words, written 18 ½ years ago:

It takes courage to write. Courage is not the same as fearlessness. Rather, courage is writing in spite of fear.

Just been reading “The Courage to Write” by Ralph Keyes. It got me thinking about writing a book about the effect being raped at the age of 14, while still a virgin, had on my life—the teen years, college, marriage, sex, life, thoughts, depression [although genetics had something to do with this as well].

I must be crazy. I can’t write such a book. Or rather I can, in that I’m sure I have enough material and could actually write it, but would I ever be willing to let anyone read it?

Crazy indeed. Yet here I am, almost two decades later, still compelled to write that book. Only now the story is complete. There is more than just the pain and suffering of trauma to tell; there is also the story of healing and redemption. Now there is courage.

Memories fester
Hidden on journal pages
Die and are reborn

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The Notebook

The small notebook languished
at the bottom of a dark drawer
its pages filled with
lists of vegetables, partial poems

Ingredients lists for salads and stews
long since cooked and eaten
but not necessarily forgotten

Poem bits inspired late at night
by verses careening through
the writer’s mind in wakefulness

Ideas for the next great
inspirational Christian bestseller
scribbled in haste at a stoplight

Prayers for loved ones
some long gone
others still in need of those
languishing prayers

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The Tuesday Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today calls for writing a poem that includes one line from the poem Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye. I was going to wait until tomorrow to write this so it could be my Lenten poem for tomorrow, but after reading Nye’s poem I couldn’t get this poem out of my head. I chose the line “lists of vegetables, partial poems.” So here it is, an extra for today.

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My Journey of Lent

The journey of Lent is personal for each Christian. In fact, some Christians aren’t even aware of what Lent is, what it means. It should be a journey of drawing closer to Christ, of understanding His sacrifice. Yet so often it becomes a journey of self-righteousness rather than self-sacrifice. We “give up” something we think is important—often things that would be considered extreme luxuries in other parts of the world—like chocolate or sweets, T.V. or Facebook. Then we tell everyone what we’re doing so they’ll see just how self-sacrificing we are.

Several years ago I decided I wasn’t going to give up things for Lent. Instead, I adopted a writing discipline. This year I decided it would be poetry—I would write a new poem every day for Lent (with Sundays off, of course, because they aren’t part of the 40 days of Lent). Now here I am telling everyone about it, and thinking that I’d forgotten how hard it is to write a new poem every day whether there is inspiration or not. Still, the writing journey does draw me closer to my Savior, requires me to think about Him when I might otherwise be distracted by chocolate or sweets, T.V. or Facebook. It’s really no sacrifice, but it is a worthwhile journey.

Desert sun blazes
Forty days, forty long days
No food, no water
It’s only the beginning
Real sacrifice is coming

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For Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub, Rajani has challenged us to write about a journey. The subject of this haibun was rambling around in my head this morning, though not in terms of a journey, but I wasn’t sure how to express it. The Haibun journey turned out to be the perfect expression. When I tried to write the haiku, however, it wanted to be a tanka.

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A New Blog Title

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you might have noticed that I recently changed the title of the blog from the merely descriptive “Linda Kruschke’s Blog” to the (hopefully) more interesting “Another Fearless Year.” The reason behind this change is that I am currently working on a book tentatively titled “Be Strong and Courageous: My Year of Living Fearlessly with God,” which I previously mentioned in this post and this post. I submitted the book proposal that I mentioned in those two posts to the editor who requested it. . . . and I got the nicest rejection letter, which I’m just tickled about. Here is what he said:

Hi Linda:

It was such a pleasure meeting with you at the Faith and Culture Writers Conference. What a wonderful experience they put together! Thanks for sending along your proposal. While I liked it a lot, others on the team felt that it wouldn’t be something we could be successful with, as we have not had great success with personal stories and memoirs, and because your platform would need to be a little bigger for us to consider the proposal. I hope you will keep writing and keep building your platform, as I think you have some real talent! Keep me in the loop.

 Blessings,

So, back to my purpose for changing the blog title, I thought that a title that described not what my blog was but rather what it was about would help me “build my platform.” My goal moving forward with this blog is to be truly fearless, to write what’s important to me even if it’s a little scary. Although 2014 is what I called “my year of living fearlessly,” I don’t want that year to be the beginning and the end of fearlessness. This year is going to be another fearless year, and so is next year, and the year after that . . . well, you get the idea. I refuse to go back to being afraid and acting on that fear.

So for starters, I’m not letting this editor’s rejection of my proposal stop me from believing it’s a project worth pursuing. In fact, I’ve already turned it into a mini-proposal and submitted it to 3 agents who will be at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference next week.

And then I’m going to keep writing—whether it’s poetry or prose, the memoir book or just some essays—some will be good and some won’t, but it will be words on a page (or screen) that will hopefully encourage others to be fearless with God.

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The Blessings of Obedience at F&C Writers Conference

It’s been three weeks since I went to the Faith & Culture Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been meaning to write this post ever since, but with the NaPoWriMo challenge and other responsibilities I just didn’t have time.

But I’m glad I waited, because if I’d written this post two weeks ago I probably would have simply listed bullet points of what some of the speakers said. While that may be useful and interesting, because they said a lot of profound stuff, it wouldn’t get to the heart of what I learned. In the past few days, I’ve been pondering what I truly learned from my conference experience and that’s what I want to share today.

First, I learned to listen to God’s nudges to do something even if it makes no sense. He has a plan and blessings will ensue if I am obedient.

The first day of the conference I wasn’t sure which breakout session to attend during the first set of breakouts. I had tentatively decided ahead of time to attend one that I thought I should go to and that looked interesting. But that morning I felt a strong nudge to attend a session titled Christ-Centered Editing led by Leanne Sype. It seemed ridiculous to me because I know about editing. At work, I live and breathe editing, am familiar with style guides and grammar resources, and know the importance of having someone else edit your writing. But the nudge was strong so I went with it.

It didn’t take me long into the session to realize I was in the right place. Leanne was a wonderful presenter who talked not about the mechanics of editing, but rather about a number of books she had the privilege to edit. The titles of those books spoke to me. Her focus on Christ-centered big-picture editing of those books was spot on.

Leanne talked about not writing or editing to sound like someone else who is a great writer, but rather to find my own God-given voice. It requires surrender to Christ when I write, staying tuned to Christ so my nature voice will emerge in my writing. In my notes I wrote, “Organized, linear, logical is my voice.” Turns out this is what I needed to hear.

The real blessings from my obedience to that nudge came later. Blessing one was when, in a session by Bob Welch the next day, Leanne sat next to me and we had a wonderful conversation. I found out she was a delightful person with fears and insecurities, just like me.

Then, the following week when I received my score sheets for the essay contest, I discovered that she was one of my judges. She gave me awesome, encouraging feedback and a good score. She affirmed that my organized, linear, and logical way of writing resonated with someone and was an encouragement to trust God. Her feedback, coupled with the less-than-positive scores and feedback of the other two judges, reminded me that my writing, my voice, will not resonate with everyone. But God will take my writing where it will be an encouragement and those who flat-out don’t connect with my writing shouldn’t discourage me from writing what God wants me to say.

Second, I learned to listen to God’s nudges to do something even if I really don’t want to do it. When I registered for the conference, I signed up to meet with an editor from a mid-sized publishing house. I had a plan to pitch to him a daily devotional on being fearless. I began working on the book proposal, but I struggled with writer’s block.

God began nudging me to pitch a different book—my memoir. I did not want to write my memoir, at least not yet, and I told God so. The nudges continued and my conversation with God about the subject ended with “Fine, I’ll write a book proposal!” I sat down at my computer to work on that book proposal and the words fairly flew onto the page.

I was still conflicted because the publishing house I had the editor-appointment with doesn’t publish memoirs; they do a lot of devotionals and other types of books, but not memoirs. I decided I would just talk to the editor about the two projects and get his feedback, without expecting him to have any interest in either book. But as I prayed for direction, I felt uneasy about this plan. I knew the editor was at the conference with the hope of finding a new book idea that he could get behind, and I would be wasting his time just seeking advice.

The Tuesday before the conference, as I prayed, I felt a new nudge. “You could sign up for a second appointment with another editor or agent,” the Lord said. So that’s what I did. I signed up to meet with an agent, who I later learned specialized in memoirs.

The blessing came when the editor and the agent independently suggested that I combine the two proposals. The editor told me that daily devotionals are not selling that great these days, perhaps because there are so many on the market. However, a book about overcoming fear written in a memoir style would fit into a popular trend. Then he told me to email him a revised book proposal for a book along those lines. (There was more to his suggestion, but I don’t want to reveal too much about my current book idea just yet.)

If I had walked into the appointment with the agent with only the devotional proposal, I don’t think the current book idea or the editor’s offer to consider my book proposal would have happened. Because I was obedient to God’s nudge to write a proposal for my memoir even though I didn’t want to, I was blessed by this new direction and opportunity.

There is more that I learned at the conference, but this blog post is already long enough. Perhaps I’ll share more another day.

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