Integral Life Coaching

Writing a Scene in a Memoir and Living in Present Moment

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(793  words – less than 6 min read)

At this point of my writing process, I have my first draft which contains all my related memories to the memoir I am writing. That is now like an autobiography rather than a story. The focus of my memoir is how I faced challenges to become independent and to be able to make decision for my own life, so it only highlights memories related to that during the years I have selected to write about – 1999 to 2010 in detail and some summary of before and after.  The writing class I am taking – How to Write Your Memoir in Six Months –  has been very helpful. I now know all those memories I have written through almost 120,000 words need to be turned into a story using literary tools. One important tool is creating “Scenes” for each memory to connect with the readers deeper through their imagination.

Learning how to turn memories into a story through scenes has been a big challenge for me. As simple as it sounds, at first I was not able to understand this concept in writing. My instructor in the writing class helped me a lot by reviewing parts of the story and giving me hints where I need to add scenes. It seemed clear but my learning curve was a little longer than I expected about this one. I was scratching my head asking myself what the heck is a scene? I started searching and reading more about scenes. I found a lot of great articles about it simply by searching in Google, my best buddy! We hang out a lot. 😊. I learned the best scenes are created when my reader sees, hears, smells, touches, and even tastes the details reading an event.  Describing how something happened through the 5 senses make the best connections with the reader. Makes sense right? I still had to dig down deeper to understand it.

One other question I came up with was how accurately I could explain the scenes in the memoir since it is a true story. Then, I thought about the 5 senses and realized my feelings went beyond that. I started to list the scenes that I remembered. As I always look at everything from a psychological and human behavior standpoint (my favorite subject of all time), I found a common factor among all the scenes I remembered best. When I was more involved emotionally rather than logically, and felt the energy and dynamic of the event, my memory was consistently more vivid. I have always thought of myself as a more passionate and less logical person anyway and that is how it worked for me. I remembered occasions with high emotions most accurately, and oh there were a lot of them – almost all my life. To my surprise, remembering the detail helped me to process and accept most of the bitter memories as an event in the past and a lesson learned for now.

This reminded me of some of Eckhart Tolle’s articles about living mindfully in the present moment. What do he and other spiritual leaders really mean by this? I needed to add some spirituality (absolutely non-religious) juice to this discovery of mine. So, I went back to re-read some of Eckhart Tolle’s articles. The one I feel helped me the most was about relationships, explaining how we need to first remove the relationship we have with ourselves to remove “I” and “Myself” to be able to live in the present moment. That is when we can offer true and unconditional love in our relationship with others. Learning from the past brought me to this understanding of living in the present. Living in the present is as simple as living non-judgmentally of ourselves and others because each one of us is unique and takes a unique path in life. It doesn’t mean we must approve everyone else’s behavior but it means to accept it as is. When we accept people as is, then we can take constructive action toward their behavior rather than being destructively impulsive. For instance, it is better to accept a thief non-judgmentally and as is, trying to educate and help them change their mindset and behavior rather than punishing them with death and disturbing society more than the thief did.

My other understanding was, if I practice living in the present moment, I will be able to remember things more realistically later. I will be able to process the memories and accept them, take the lesson, and let go of the bitter ones without creating resentment.

Writing a memoir has helped me improve my self-awareness tremendously. It has connected me with the purpose of life at a deeper level. I believe, everyone should write the story of their life.

Celebrate life!


Editing Credit: M. Curtis

Picture Credit:

Author: Shabnam

Shabnam Curtis was born and raised in Tehran, experiencing the Iranian Revolution of 1979 firsthand. In 2004 she immigrated to the United States, where she now works as a passionate life coach and a writer. Shabnam is a certified Integral Coach with New Ventures West and International Coaching Federation. She offers one-on-one coaching sessions as well as workshops for groups. Since September of 2021, she also has been the life coach in residence for Dimension Science Bridges Non-profit organization.

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