The 1647 Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man? (Not politically correct, but we get the meaning.) The answer certainly applies to our busy modern lives: the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. But what does it mean to glorify God, and what does it mean to enjoy him?
Since our Creator made us in his image, enjoying God implies finding pleasure in being alive. The question for us now becomes, do I consistently delight in my life?
Whew! That stops me short. But last week, a friend sent me a powerful Linda Yuknavitch quote:
“Sometimes telling the story is the thing that saves your life.”
Recollecting on what motivated my memoir writing, sometimes I marvel. The struggle motivated me. The writing itself involved turmoil—the genre involves going down into our experiences to garner meaning.
More than two years have passed since the final editing process with my publisher, yet I still hear comments that tell me the result was worth all the effort. Hearing someone say, “Your book is motivating me to write down some of my memories,” or “I love how you find meaning in such mundane, inconsequential things.”
Well, that’s what makes up the bulk of our lives, isn’t it? And we’re to enjoy our lives, right? When we look back and see how grace carried us through the worst of times, how friendship supported us, and how we grew in character, we’re reminded that our experience on this earth has intrinsic value.
That’s what Women’s Fiction does for us, too. Women’s stories pepper my memoir, but I didn’t realize I’d move into fiction—or I should say, that fiction characters would one day move into my head and heart. They’re kind of pushy, believe me. They whisper to me on a walk, wake me up in the night with plot twists, and interfere with my concentration on other topics. They beckon me down an imaginary pathway that seems so real, I forget to eat lunch, or a doctor’s appointment.
My two latest characters, Dottie and Addie, both lived during World War II. Oh my, what they survived! Dottie lost her son at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass in North Africa. Addie fought her own battles on the home front with a volatile husband who took out his fury at the draft board on her. These heroines drew me into their stories like our honeysuckle bush draws hummingbirds.
Their stories inspire, reassure, and challenge me and my readers. We’re not alone, and treasuring others’ experiences increases our joy. I’m continually amazed at the curves and turns and flip-flops that take place in my characters—things I’d never have imagined if I’d set out with an agenda.
Through the incredible experience of reading and writing, we enjoy God’s wonderful works. We never tire of these tales, and more keep arising, waiting to be written down. And the writing?
It’s all about attention to the details and enjoying the stories. I’d be delighted if you’d like to share one here.