(1065 words – 5 min read)
I started working on my memoir around Thanksgiving of 2015. Work had not been busy for the past few months, frustrating me with feelings of uselessness. I was used to always being very busy at work. When work slowed down for the first time in my life, I did not know what to do with myself. The slow pace gave me time to think about a lot of things I had never thought of before, and the frustration gave the thoughts a negative tone. My negative thoughts were telling me the reason I was slow at work and not adding any value was because I was not good enough. Pretty quickly, these thoughts turned in a crisis. I was distracted by obsessive thoughts and consumed by anxiety.
For a long time I was not able to pinpoint the cause for my concerns. I was confused with all the mixed feelings and thoughts. I frantically googled every possible related subject and read many articles trying to figure out what was going on in my head and my heart. All I knew was I had lost the inner peace I had worked so hard to build. What was wrong?
After a while I realized I was terrified of aging. My research led me to understand this can be part of a mid-life crisis. I started reading more about mid-life crises to learn how to deal with it. Over the course of 3 months, I learned a mid-life crisis is a phase that can lead down two different paths – destructive or constructive. In one case, I could continue to give destructive power to the spiraling negative thoughts, leading to depression. However, if I could look at aging constructively, I felt I could work to build a legacy. I had long conversations with my husband Mike and my close friends about how I felt. My choice was simple.
The thought of writing had been in my mind for a long time, and after an event a few years earlier a dear friend asked me to write the story of my life. I started to write my memoir shortly after, but could not devote any time to it. However, I knew I liked writing. I felt I needed it, but my busy life never allowed me to pursue writing until this time that work was slow. In a coffee-break conversation with my friend Holly, she encouraged me to try writing again, to work on a legacy.
Since I was very demotivated, it took another few weeks before I started looking at my earlier writings. I started reading them and felt impressed by how much my English skills had improved in just a short time. I started writing again. That is what was missing in my life. It was possible to create value regardless of my job satisfaction!
I felt better when I wrote, so I wrote more and more and felt even better…. I found myself feeling anxious and looking forward to get back to my writing time almost every day. I got excited. I ordered books to read about how to write a memoir. I started researching about memoirs and how they differ from biographies. I began looking at other books and reading other’s memoirs, all the while writing and writing. I got to a point where I was thinking about it almost all day. The next steps seemed to come to my mind naturally. The process of figuring out what to do was so natural that I fell in love with writing. I would start writing and the words would appear on my computer screen, surprising me with thoughts I didn’t know I had. I found writing empowering and writing my memoir healing!
By the New Year I felt a lot better. The obsessive thoughts subsided. The anxiety was under control and I was truly enjoying my writing time.
I started creating an outline for the story. I don’t write chronologically, but work on sections of the story as they present themselves in my mind. As I write, I also update the outline of the story. I write very often, not every day but a few times per week.
Now that my work-load is back to normal again, when I don’t have time to read and write often, I feel frustrated.
My goal is to finish the first draft by the end of 2016. I have written 60,000 words so far. In 2017, I will be adding more details and emotional explanations to the first draft. I will also be editing as I add more details. I will re-arrange it to give it a cause and effect style by flash-backs. By 2018 I will be working on the final editing and asking for feedback and hopefully beginning the publishing process.
I have joined a few writing workshops. I have created a long list of books I’d like to read in “Goodreads”. I am taking on-line courses mostly on “Coursera” about writing, happiness, social psychology, and related subjects. I read other blogs about memoir writing. I read a lot of psychology articles related to the process of self-awareness, to learn how my life story fits in this process and how this process fits in my life story. I talk to close friends (including my husband and my daughter) about my thoughts. This is a cleansing effort which creates a very special bond between me and the beautiful souls around me. It feels wonderful!
The process has ups and downs of course! Thinking about some sad or stressful events in past makes me feel down or sad sometimes. In order to write it realistically, I try to lift up my soul to put things in perspective and learn from the damage. That helps me heal the damage little by little and deepen my self-awareness. It is beautiful how it works. It makes me particularly happy when I see how good can come out of bad and sad. Duality of life!
I have shared books I am reading on my blog via “Goodreads” and linked blogs I am following. I will share other blogs that I find useful and organizations that are helpful. Most of all I will share my weekly progress in learning how to be a writer and in writing my memoir.
See you next time as I share my weekly progress.
Editing Credit: M. Curtis & P.E
June 12, 2016 at 1:32 pm
Great job Shabnam! I’m looking forward to reading more.