Part I – Writing Your Memoir

Posted in Memoir Writing at 09:06 am by admin


Five years ago, I had no idea what writing my memoir, Divine Betrayal, would mean to me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t set out to write a book at first.  My daughters had asked me to write down some of the stories I told them, such as the death of my little lamb Becky and the beheading at the marketplace.  I thought I would jot down a few of these stories and have about ten pages. But once I started, I couldn’t stop and 100 pages later my stories still came, flowing like an uncontrollable rushing river.


Unfortunately for my sleep schedule, most of this happened in the middle of the night, when everything was quiet and my mind could focus. I had no problem getting to sleep, but it seemed that about 1:00 or 2:00 A.M. I would wake up, and become extremely alert.  My thoughts would invariably go to what I was writing about that day.  I kept a writing pad and pen next to my bed, and often started writing things down in order not to forget what came up during the night. 

One vivid example of this was when my ghost writer asked me who was Vadica, and she wanted to know more about her.  I told Jeannine that I couldn’t remember much about Vadica and in all of mother’s letters her name was never mentioned.  During the night it came to me why mother never wrote about Vadica.  We were poor missionaries, supported by the friends and family in America and it might have been difficult for them to accept the fact that mother had a “maid.”  Yet Vadica was a very important part of our life in the first six years in Brazil.  As I started to think of Vadica, I could not stop.  I remembered what she looked like, how hard she worked, her bubbly personality, her great stories, and how much I loved her.  I had no idea that Vadica played such an important role in our lives.  We never talked about her when we were in America.

So whenever I needed to actively find a memory I thought was lost, it would appear when I was rested, and in the middle of the night.  The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to come up from somewhere deep inside.  Sometimes I felt sad with some memories, and in the quiet of the night it seemed easier to get in touch with my feeling, and tears flowed for seemingly no reason.  But writing a memoir was very cathartic and healing for me.  I found that the more I delved into deep memories, the more emotional healing took place, so the physical and emotional demands on me were ultimately worthwhile.

There were spiritual challenges and rewards, too. Writing down the memories of my teenage years was especially difficult for me. During those years, I was questioning the beliefs of my parents and the church. How would it affect others if I told the truth? I knew that if I shared my true feelings, the present day church members (including my relatives) might criticize and reject my story, or even deny the facts.  In a fundamentalist organization there is no room for doubt, or questioning of any doctrine or strict rules I had to live by in the Brazilian church. 

It was time to make a choice. I decided that, no matter what happened, it was important for me to be grounded in my own faith, and really believe that I had made the right choice. I decided to be my own person, seek my loving God, understand my personal relationship with Jesus, and tell my story. Many times during the process, I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling deep sorrow, knowing that my book might bring criticism and doubt from other believers. But after much praying and crying, I felt joy in realizing how happy my life is, and what a wonderful loving God I worship. It was time to tell the truth.

4 Responses to “Part I – Writing Your Memoir”

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