Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Benefits of Writing a Memoir

Last year, I had the pleasure of working with a very gifted writer and Life Strategist and Coach, Colleen A. Miller. She wrote a touching and often hilarious book about her family called Crash Those Cymbals in Hell, Lorraine Grisky: Mining My Childhood for Truth, Freedom and Laughter. Told in the voice of herself as a child, Colleen shares what it was like to grow up in her parents’ motel in Durango, Colorado in the 1950s and ΚΌ60s. During the summers, Durango was a tourist town, but the rest of the year it resembled a typical small town, populated by the larger-than-life characters who made their living and raised their families in this western town.

Colleen shared with me that she had originally written down her family’s stories merely as a way to pass them down to her children and grandchildren. But she soon found that memoir writing was much more beneficial than she had anticipated. She writes in the Preface:

I discovered for myself what other memoirists have known: the experience of writing memoir can become a sacred and profound journey, having a powerful and inestimable impact upon one’s current life. Writing and reading my stories took me back again to the times when my family and the others who populated my childhood were still alive, long before there was even the slightest inkling that any of them would one day be gone. Traveling back into my past had the unexpected effect of enriching my present life in ways I could never have predicted. It reconnected me with my inner child’s values, dreams and their sources, and most powerfully, I reconnected with that child herself.

I was able to view my pivotal life events from two perspectives -- that of my adult self and my child self. I also began to realize that it was far more effective if I let the child part of me tell her stories in her voice, from her perspective. This allowed me to take a more accurate and complete look at the events that set the course of my life, and I was finally able to see the truth about who I had been and the reasons these events unfolded in the way they did. The clarity with which I saw my childhood and family gave me deeper compassion for the child I was and for the others who occupied those times. With forgiveness and compassion came a sense of completion and peace, never available to me before. Very simply, writing and sharing these stories was changing how I was experiencing my life, in present time, while healing my past.

You’re in for a real treat when you read Crash Those Cymbals in Hell, Lorraine Grisky. I loved reading about Colleen’s childhood and often laughed out loud at her exploits as a very precocious and headstrong little girl. Visit www.crashthosecymbals.com to learn more about this book and pick up a copy. This book will inspire you to get started in writing your own memoir!

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