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Shaping your memoir: The mythic journey of your life

You have undertaken to write the mythic journey of your life.

We read memoirs for many reasons. These reasons can perhaps be summarized into two: we want to be entertained and we need to be informed.

In this post on the mythic journey of your life, I want to write about the second of those reasons:our need to be informed.

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Whether they articulate it or not, many people read memoirs because they want to understand something about the lived experience of life. Life is not easy. It is full of challenges, defeats and conundrums.

“What to do?”

A well-written memoir can help readers to answer the fundamental questions they poses to themselves. But to write a text that satisfies this dimension, the writer must be conscious of the mythic dimension of his/her life.

David vs. Goliath

In some very real way, we are all Davids trying to overcome the Goliaths that life sends our way. We have so little at our disposal to undertake and hopefully win many of these struggles against Goliath forces. We take the slingshots of our talents and skills and ambition and apply our flimsy weapon to slaying Goliath.

You read memoirs to deal with the feeling of being a David in relationship to life. You wonder how you can overcome your difficulties, let’s say poverty, lack of education, responsibility, or whatever assails you are at the moment. You look at what is available to you—the slingshot of opportunity and perhaps you feel defeated before you even begin.

What you need is the encouragement of another’s life journey. You need an insightful memoir. Others have taken up their slingshots and have gone out in defiance of their Goliaths with the will to stop the giant. Their memoir is an account of that hero’s journey.

Before you write just the actions of your memoir, stop a moment to articulate what the hero’s-journey response you undertook was.

Action Step:

In the writing of your memoir [or parts of it], identify the mythic journey.

  1. What was the Goliath of your story? What was that huge challenge you had to undertake?
  1. What did you use for your “slingshot.” What “weapons” did you have available to overcome your difficulty?
  1. How did you use your slingshot? There is the action of your memoir which you are now ready to write.

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