Just what did I really want? This is the sort of question guaranteed to drive a memoirist to distraction, but until you can answer it, you’re unlikely to have a compelling story. For weeks I’ve been picking at the lock guarding the answer to this question. I’ve filled countless journal pages and thought about it incessantly. I tried free writing. I tried everything besides sitting quietly and waiting for an answer.

Tonight I finally resorted to that last step. I sat back in my recliner in a dark room, turned off the sound of my thoughts, and focused in on metaphorical images of a couple of memories. I used a sort of split screen, comparing possibilities, and changed conditions in the active screen, comparing to the base image. Finally a scene clicked. I knew I’d finally hit the paydirt of fundamental Truth.

This Truth is not something I’ll disclose directly, because I was not aware of this truth as anything but the vaguest dissatisfaction back then. but it will provide form and shape for lots of scenes. It will serve as a sort of hidden skeleton. It will be a major source of tension in the story, helping to move it forward.

My discovery came with a huge bonus. Now that my desire is clear, now that I see that image, I can clearly see how it has manifested in my life. I can watch the dream unfold, beginning a little over thirty years ago, gradually unfurling. That’s the magic of memoir —it can solve some of the basic mysteries of life, our own and perhaps others too. Not only can it heal broken hearts, enable  forgiveness, and bestow inner peace, but it can disclose unexpected joys and blessings, and few things are as satisfying.

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