Looking for Love in Memoir

It’s February, and I have Valentine’s Day on my mind. Not the cheesy commercial consumer holiday, but the deeper celebration of Love in all its guises. 

Whenever I pass by these two trees, I always fancy that the younger beech is hugging the older pine. And the younger one has a “tree tat” in the shape of a heart….

In my February memoir workshops, I like to invite people to make a list of everything they can think of that they truly loved, starting in childhood and moving on towards the present day. This list can include people, pets and places; favorite trees, rocks and flowers; the taste of a favorite dish or the spicy scent of a certain grove of pine trees on a rainy day. The more specific your list, the better it will serve you as a jumping-off point for some writing about these special love objects.

It may seem somewhat aimless to write a bunch of scenes about who and what you have loved, but as you allow yourself to move more deeply into those memories, one will lead to another and soon you will find yourself following some passionate pathways that will lead to important stories from your life.

I always say to memoirists, if you remember it, it must be important—because think of how much of our lives we end up forgetting! The memories that stick with us live on in our minds because they have a certain emotional power. 

Sure, many of your most persistent memories will be connected with negative emotions. You could make a list of everything you hate and fear, too. 

But this month, let’s focus on love. As Rilke says, you can even look at painful events in your life history from the perspective of “turning bitterness to wine.” 

For instance, when I wrote about my separation from my husband, who had been my constant companion for 25 years (21 of them married), it was helpful to take the time to delve into my memories of our early time together, when we had been young and so passionately in love. Writing about the love we had shared somehow made the sadness and anger of our break-up more palatable, or at least bittersweet.

In my Writer’s Companion for memoirists, I offer three prompts this month that invite you to think about how love has shown up in your life in personal stories, in your passion for social causes, and in your love of place. 

I share the more fanciful of these prompts in my video greeting to you this month. Have a look and let me know what you think! 

I’m excited to be starting my first online circle for women memoirists this month, which allows me to widen the circle to include far-flung writers.

If you’re interested in any of the services I offer, from individual coaching to manuscript review and editing, to my workshops and self-paced online memoir course, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Write to me at jennifer@jenniferbrowdy.com, or shoot me a message on Facebook.

I’m always here cheering you on….