SPIRITUAL MEMOIR

“All the world’s a stage … .”

Deciding how to classify a book once it’s written is a difficult task for many authors. A multitude of categories exist, but which ones are best for a book? These categories usually appear on the back cover. But to complicate things … book vendors utilize different categories, i.e., Amazon v. Barnes and Noble. And many titles span several categories or genres. So this simple sounding question actually can be a puzzle.

My forthcoming book, The Silence of Morning: A Memoir of Time Undone, is clearly memoir. But, more specifically, it’s also spiritual memoir because spiritual growth is a major theme in the book. The other key theme in my book is suicide and sudden loss. The experience of grief in the moment, and over time. And since my background is in sociology, culture and society are also significant themes. Every person is greatly impacted by societal forces. Sometimes we’re too young to realize we are being “socialized,” but it’s happening all the time. Culture exists at many levels of society — family, educational, political, and so on.  For instance, in my memoir I look closely at our “addictive culture” — how it manifests in so many guises, how the root causes are constantly overlooked, obscured.

Then, of course, there is the matter of what is “literature” and what is not — a very subjective measure, by the way.

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So I’m still mulling all of this around. Trying to determine the best categories — the ones that will make the book easy to find, the ones that are the most accurate in light of the content. It seems that most books are discovered by word-of-mouth … readers sharing something about a book that they loved. But some readers run a search on a topic, hoping to discover something intriguing.

The easiest approach would be to simply categorize the book as memoir. But that isn’t very specific or illuminating, is it?

It’s sort of like saying the sky is blue.

Right, but what shade of blue?

  • “I need the shade of blue that rips your heart out. You don’t see that type of blue around here.”
    ― Cath Crowley, Graffiti Moon

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Of course more important than book category, I hope the book lives up to its promise … it may depend on what each reader brings to it … level of consciousness, lived experience, and so on. The Silence of Morning was very difficult to write, but whenever I delve into it (edits) I feel enormous gratitude for its message, its refuge from the storm. And a sense of abiding love comes into my awareness as I remember the son of 27 years who seemingly left our world with this unspoken message: I did the best I could.

In the end that’s all any of us can do, and I feel deeply honored to bring Matt’s journey (and mine) to life in ways that might help others. I need to mention, however, that the book won’t be an “easy read” … a “quick read” … and I’ve avoided a chronological approach whenever possible. Life isn’t nearly as linear as we imagine; life happens in many layers (some fuzzy, some distinct and overpowering), and we often (usually?) understand things much better as we evolve … as we integrate today into remembered history.

  • “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances.” ~ Shakespeare

 

Thank you so much for stopping by this creative sunny space for kindred spirits. SunnyRoomStudio, launched in early 2010, has also been a place of refuge, understanding, and joy (a bridge of peace, connection, and friendship); the many wonderful (inspiring and talented) friends met here are appreciated beyond measure. Please accept my heartfelt gratitude. It’s never easy to talk about the death of a loved one, but it’s even more daunting to make the experience meaningful to others. Finding my public voice on topics like grief, suicide, addiction (our addictive culture), and intense spiritual growth often felt like a momentous challenge.

  • But now, after wading into these deep waters, I trust that something inspiring and meaningful, even beautiful, has been created.

As I recently wrote in a guest blog post called “An Eternal Heartbeat” (thank you again Susan Weidener, founder of the Women’s Writing Circle and recent guest in SunnyRoomStudio),”my eight year journey has not been so much about healing” (a word greatly overworked by our goal-oriented culture), but more about finding the courage to better understand the entirety of life. An entirety that includes endings.

This, by the way, is a mission we are ALL on regardless of personal circumstances. We may not be aware of it, but each breath prepares us for inevitable endings by leading us to a deepening awareness of the realities of life completion.

  • “We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.” ― Leonora Carrington (1917-2011)

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Forthcoming: November 2015.
Will keep you advised re availability.

HOW do you find books? Key words in a search, friends, pure luck?
Any suggestions re book categories?

IF interested in learning more about memoir, here’s an interview (via NPR, Sept. 2015)
with Mary Karr re her new book: The Art of Memoir. 

  • See you again on Friday, October 30th, as I continue to focus on memoir — the genre, the path, the point of it all.
  • Always Returning: The Wisdom of Place (a second edition of my first book) is about digging into our surroundings to unearth an organic, timeless wisdom. If you’re looking for inspiration or want to lean more about a landscape, a place, that helped me unearth my spiritual roots, this may be a book for you. We are all wiser than we think; it’s just a matter of tapping into what we already know. -dh
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When we value the journey itself, new realities are revealed amidst the old.
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